The Pleat, The Fold and The Slit: A Creative Response to the Jack the Ripper Narrative

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


Touch is central to sensual and emotional exploration, knowledge, and understanding. Images across the spectrum of visual culture (including film, TV, photography, advertising, fine art and performance) provoke intensely visceral and cerebral responses. Spectacular images have the capacity to move us and stimulate our senses. Through the processes of haptic visuality, a richly textured surface offers embodied, tactile and multisensory visuality where we can touch with our eyes (Marks 2000).

Yet whether nose against the glass in a museum or gallery, touching the digital screen or page, a spatial distance remains between representational images and the lived material body. We still ache to touch, explore, connect and understand. Through the processes of tactile transmediality (Gilligan 2012), clothing, fabric and accessories offer the potential to bridge the spatial distance between the image and embodied experience. We construct, transform and perform identities, and become closer to the distanced visual representation through the processes of adornment in which fabric touches our skin.
Where my research to date has explored the capacity for costume and fashion to facilitate tactile transmediality through copying, consumption and cosplay, this paper will focus upon new exploratory practice-based research tied to my pedagogical practice with art and design students at Hartlepool College. Using the historical and contemporary narratives surrounding Victorian serial killer ‘Jack the Ripper’ as the springboard to creative work within the studio, my sketchbook project explored concepts of haptic visuality and tactile transmediality. Where many of the students found themselves drawn to the enigmatic figure of Ripper, my aim was to reconceptualise the representation and put the women and their lives within impoverished areas of Victorian London at the centre of the visual exploration. Through repurposing old books, an intimate, emotional, tactile visual narrative emerged in which the students’ responses to sexual symbolism and sensory interactions fashioned the direction of the subsequent ‘chapters’.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 2019
EventFCVC2019: Fashion, Costume and Visual Cultures. - IMMD, Roubaix, France
Duration: 9 Jul 201911 Jul 2019


ConferenceFCVC2019: Fashion, Costume and Visual Cultures.
Abbreviated titleFCVC2019


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