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Claire Wilcox has worked as a curator in fashion at the Victoria & Albert Museum for most of her working life. Down cool, dark corridors and in quiet store rooms, she and her colleagues care for, catalogue and conserve clothes centuries old, the inscrutable remnants of lives long lost to history; the commonplace or remarkable things that survive the bodies they once encircled or adorned. In ‘Patch Work’, Wilcox deftly stitches together her dedicated study of fashion with the story of her own life lived in and through clothes. From her mother’s black wedding suit to the swirling patterns of her own silk kimono, her memoir unfolds in luminous prose the spellbinding power of the things we wear.
WINNER OF THE 2021 PEN ACKERLEY PRIZE‘A strange and mesmerising piece of work’ Sunday Times ‘An absolute masterpiece’ Laura Cumming‘An uncommon delight’ Observer Claire Wilcox has been a curator of fashion at the Victoria and Albert Museum for most of her working life. In Patch Work, she turns her curator’s eye to the fabric of life itself, tugging at the threads of memory: a cardigan worn by a child, a tin button box, the draping of a curtain, a pair of cycling shorts, a roll of lace, a pin hidden in a seam. Through these intimate and compelling close-ups, we see how the stories and the secrets of clothes measure out the passage of time, our gains and losses, and the way we use them to unravel and write our histories. ‘Effervescent, poetic, puzzle-like … Wilcox picks at the heartstrings’ Financial Times
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