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Striking dress with a handmade tale to tell...

Samantha Clark with her handmade dress

A striking fashion statement that tells its own handmade tale is wowing visitors to Middlesbrough’s Central Library.

The Literary Dress is sculpted from photocopied pages of Maya Angelou’s autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.

It was created by Community Hub & Library Assistant Samantha Clark as part of Women’s History Month 2023.

The Glasgow School of Art graduate formed the dress’s flowing lines from fans of pages, supported by a mannequin kindly lent by Marks & Spencer’s town centre store.

Samantha said: “I didn’t think too much about what I was going to make, I just drew up one idea and ran with it - that’s how I enjoy making art, pure intuition.

“I tend to think ‘how’ I’m going to make something first and then think about ‘what’ it is and conceptualise it afterwards. That’s the beauty of it.

“Having the dress on display in the library is significant, as our libraries help and support our community day in, day out.

“We want people to come in and use our facilities and resources freely, and be able to see, learn and appreciate the power of words, information and art.”

Middlesbrough born and bred, Samantha wants women, especially young women in Middlesbrough, to feel empowered and encouraged by her piece, and know that they are capable of turning their own ideas into reality.

She added: “‘I’d like this dress to encourage you to see that although the world can feel daunting at times, and although you might go through your own personal adversities, you can still become what you work towards and believe in.

“I hope my younger sisters see what I’ve done and know what’s possible through belief in yourself no matter your circumstances.”

Councillor Stephen Hill, Middlesbrough Council’s Executive member for Culture & Communities, said: “Middlesbrough has a rich history of strong women like Gertrude Bell and Ellen Wilkinson, so Women’s History Month always has a special resonance here.

“In keeping with that proud tradition Samantha has created a striking and thought-provoking work of art, and there’s no better place for it to be seen and enjoyed than the foyer of the Central Library.”

The handmade dress in Middlesbrough's Central Library