Joanne Hynes : what we carry with us

20 July - 5 August 2023

What do we leave behind, take forward, carry with us?


Through a selection of clothing, objects and text, Joanne Hynes explores fictional, autobiographical and creative meaning in gesture, process, and materiality. This first solo exhibition is formed around extracts from Hynes’s fictional essays, prose, poetry and short stories. Hynes carries ideas of loss and belonging into material questioning through collecting, making and writing, investigating the notion of staying present with discomfort through process. In so doing, Hynes reflects on design thinking from 25 years in fashion, marking a point of reconciliation in her creative practice.


In revisiting her archive of garments and found objects, Hynes examines and extracts in order to create sculptural vignettes, locating memories and narratives that are both suggested by the items and brought to them by her associative connections. New pieces are made as replicas of the archive, using sheer light fabric which combines new material and remnants from existing garments. Text and jewelled embellishments are layered onto the clothing, often forming Hynes’s words. Each garment has a body or part of body that is either underwear or sheer elongated arms and legs. Sections interface and are cut through. The weight of a perfume bottle held in the cup of a bra, crystal glimpsed through a pocket or rest-ing in a hem, found objects pulling on sleeves and legs.


Through the interaction of both found and created objects and garments, Hynes reimagines narratives around lives lived, as triggers and containers of haptic experience that connect us to the world. If the ‘things’ that surround us embody and hold personal meaning, how do they communicate and witness our shifting identities and interactions with transient environments?


Hynes’s writing holds a fundamental line through the exhibition and her practice as a whole. The varied form and rhythm of language, the ways in which syntax and structure are unformed and reformed, can be viewed as analogous to the process of fashion design, and to the passage of making. For Hynes, these are intersecting practices. In writing from the body, from memory and the sensory, she seeks to write from the lack of something, from a wildness, from a barely formed language, which is also materialised through the garments and objects in the exhibition. The tension between the written word and the materiality of clothing is central to this process, and as such both are juxtaposed and physically combined in fragments and assemblages, provoking associative meaning. These are pieces of the self.


Text by Dr Rebecca Bell.