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Article: Introducing… The Pockets Collection, 2024

Introducing… The Pockets Collection, 2024

The Pockets Collection is a series of eight small assemblage artworks featuring beautifully curated collections of items inspired by those you might find in certain people’s pockets. From a Lady Detective searching for clues on a tricky case, to a Horologist with a pocketful of intricate dials and cogs, each of these items tells a story and reveals an insight into each individual life.



The history of pockets is very rich and interesting, particularly in women’s fashion. From the early 1500s men’s clothing had numerous pockets sewn into them but for women, we only start seeing them being introduced in the early 1600s. Initially women’s pockets weren’t sewn into garments as we know today but were pear-shaped bags which were tied on around the waist and accessible through openings in the petticoats and dresses covering them. In many cases these concealed pockets were as long as 40cm and 30cm wide and could hold many of the items deemed important for a lady to carry with her.

It is also expedient to carry about you a purse, a thimble, a pincushion, a pencil, a knife and a pair of scissors, which will not only be an inexpressible source of comfort and independence, by removing the necessity of borrowing, but will secure the privilege of not lending these indispensable articles.

Eighteen Maxims of Neatness and Order, Theresa Tidy, 1819

The V&A's article on Women's tie-on pockets concludes that it’s difficult to find out what women would have carried with them as it just wasn’t a subject people made accounts of, but I like to imagine all the items they might have carried with them and this is the essence of my new Pockets Collection.


n this series of eight mini artworks we are transported into the lives of eight different people through the items they carry in their pockets, from a mischievous school boy, through a Victorian lady detective to a DIY enthusiast, there will be an arrangement to capture everyone’s imagination.

No. 1 Cook’s Apron
From crimping to piping it’s a busy day in the kitchen. The family expects a hearty dinner, plus there’s all the preparation for tomorrow’s garden party, so the cook’s apron is full of all the kitchen accessories one might need: measuring, salt and coffee spoons, a pastry crimper and various icing nozzles, plus a helpful ‘list taker’ to remind her what she still needs to get from the shop in the morning.

No. 2 School Boy
This school boy’s pocket is one of fun and adventure, containing mementoes of his travels that day, cycling to the bus stop and catching the bus into town to spend his well-earned pounds. He’s off to the toy shop to explore the latest games and magic tricks to play with his school friends.

No. 3 Horologist’s Bench
There’s a backlog in the horologist’s workshop. He’s got so many watches and repair jobs to get finished and his pocket of sweepings and items not-to-be-lost is getting rather full. From watch faces and hands to springs and tiny cogs, there’s all sorts to be found in the depths of this pocket.

No. 4 DIY Enthusiast
There’s no job too big for this DIY enthusiast and with a work jacket pocket full of bits and bobs, there is no stopping him. With hinges to oil and valves and bulbs to replace, plus glue and string for those trickier jobs, there’s a full afternoon’s work ahead of him.

No. 5 Seamstress
This seamstress has a full afternoon’s sewing and mending ahead of her, from darning some stockings, to taking up her favourite skirt and adding a brighter buckle to her well-worn belt. There is a busy afternoon ahead of her but, with the wireless on, a fresh cup of tea and pockets full of all the bits she needs, she’s rather looking forward to it.

No. 6 Man About Town
This gentleman has got quite a day planned; with his bow tie on and his pipe to hand, he’s decided to take his new sporty motor out to the races for a flutter. Wish him luck!

No. 7 Ladies’ Night at the Opera
It’s the social occasion of the season for this forward-thinking lady. She’s on the bus to the Royal Opera House, opera glasses safely stowed, and afterwards, who knows where the evening will take her?

No. 8 Lady Detective
This pocket includes all the essentials a lady would need to run her own detective agency: locks and hair pins for picking them, a magnifying glass and coins to pay off informants. Clues she’s keeping include, a green glass ‘not to be taken’ bottle, a safe key and a mother-of-pearl shirt button. Now, solve the crime!

Each collection is professionally framed in an FSC certified oak frame with hand wrapped fabric sides and glazed in ART GLASS AR 70 by Simon at Bushwood Framed, Leytonstone.

Each piece has been a joy to dream up, collect and construct. I hope you enjoy seeing them as much a I have making them. The whole collection can be seen here.



If you are interested in finding out more about the history of pockets and their use in fashion, I can recommend the following articles and publications:

A short article from the V&A as part of their recent Bags: Inside Out exhibition.
Read the article here.

And for a bit of extra fun, why not try making your own tie-on pockets!
Article and instructions here.

The Pocket: A Hidden History of Women's Lives, 1660-1900 by Barbara Burman
See this on the Waterstones website here.

Pockets: A Intimate History of How We Keep Things Close by Hannah Carlson
See this on the Waterstones website here.


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