Iron on the Dress is a contribution by Mandy Lane as part of Wales Arts Review’s new series, Artists in Residence. Throughout 2017 artists, including Mandy Lane will take a leading creative role in what Wales Arts Review publishes, centring their skills on a challenging project over the course of a month. We were inundated with applications, receiving hundreds of emails about the positions, and it was no easy task whittling down all that talent to this final eleven. Our team of six editors debated long into the night, and in the end, we decided on a collection of people who we most want to work with, and whose work excites us. We think you will be excited by them too.
Mandy Lane graduated from Carmarthen School of Art with a 2-1 BA Hons in Fine Art Sculpture and has completed her MA Contemporary Dialogues in Swansea College of Art with distinction. She is a sculpture lecturer at Carmarthen School of Art, a member of Sculpture Cymru, a fellow in 56 Group and most recently forms part of the all-woman group Iron Maidens made in Wales.
On 23rd March 2017 in Carmarthen School of Art, Black Bee pour team poured molten iron over a 90-year-old wedding dress. The wedding dress had been passed down to me. During my creative journey responding to the life of Amy Dillwyn, the dress had become a symbolic part of the story. The pivotal point of Amy’s young life hung on the death of Llewellyn, her fiancé.
It raises the questions, if he had survived smallpox:
would Amy have ever referred to Olive as her wife?
would she have single-handedly saved her father’s industrial business from ruin?
would she be the author of such inspiring books with a strong central female heroine’s? would she have found such strength in her own unique self?
would she have openly smoked the cigar? Worn such man-ish clothes and fought for women’s rights?
Her contemplation at the potential loss of her identity and name was evident in an entry of her diary, ‘oh my darling old room where I sit now. I wonder if I shall ever again write my diary in you? Oh my home, my home, I never thought I loved you so well as now that I am leaving you perhaps never to return as Amy Dillwyn’ (Painting, D (1987) Amy Dilwyn. P24)
For a more in-depth perspective on this particular topic, take a look at Mandy Lane’s video via YouTube.