November 17, 2020

How Much Can We Ever Really Know About Women In History?

Lara Bauchop

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Costume Design Illustration (collage), Textile Sample for Costume (Cyanotype Technique on Viscose Satin), Half Scale Bodice (Viscose Satin Cyanotype Print, Blue Satin, Plastic Pearls, Calico and Boning)Costume Design for Catherine of Aragon, 2020

I created this Installation after watching numerous depictions of Catherine of Aragon as ‘boring’ and ‘dowdy’. It seemed female historical figures were perpetually cast in roles that lacked investigation and nuance. My concept was to design a costume that communicated Catherine’s personality and achievements, the good and the bad. I undertook research into her personality, family and life, which informed my final creative output (e.g. the textile print sample was made using flowers from Flodden Battlefield, where Catherine made an impassioned speech, which inspired her troops to victory). When designing, I realised authenticity was impossible because I relied on records from 500 years ago, which were written from a narrow and male-centric perspective. Through investigating Catherine’s life, I could learn a lot about her and make informed decisions, but these would remain speculative. This project has made me more questioning and challenging of depictions of historical figures, but also aware of how little we really know about women in history. In Scotland we place a lot of emphasis on our heritage and what we can learn from it, but we should remain critical of our sources and aware that this is only one perspective on a person or event.