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A TELEGRAPH BOOK OF THE YEAR
‘I am overwhelmed by this book. It is an absolute masterpiece. A book of such beauty and profundity, of such poetry in its emotion and observation … I found my sense of life transformed by her writing as I often find it transformed after the exhibition of a great artist’ LAURA CUMMING
Claire Wilcox has been a curator of fashion at the Victoria and Albert Museum for most of her working life. In Patch Work, she steps into the archive of memory, deftly stitching 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 spare, luminous prose the spellbinding power of the things we wear.
In a series of intimate and compelling close-ups, Wilcox tugs on the threads that make up the fabric of our lives: a cardigan worn by a child, a mother’s button box, the draping of a curtain, a pair of cycling shorts, a roll of lace, a pin hidden in a seam. Through the eye of a curator, 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.
An uncommon delight -- Rachel Cooke * Observer * In her beautifully written memoir Wilcox takes readers behind the scenes of life at the museum - while recounting the many ways that clothes have shaped her personal development in a series of lyrical vignettes * Vogue, 12 Of The Best Autumn Reads To Curl Up With Now * An extraordinary mixture of museum work interleaved with memoir ... beautifully written, her book is a love story, with clothes as much as people as its heroes * Spectator * I am overwhelmed by this book. It is an absolute masterpiece. A book of such beauty and profundity, of such poetry in its emotion and observation ... The way it puts words to objects and events is so original. I have been moved to such tears by the lives told here, but also by the infinite care with which she has considered them over and over again, stitched them together, pieced out of memories and love -- LAURA CUMMING, author of On Chapel Sands Patch Work is a unique memoir told in rich, tantalising fragments that made me look at what we all wear with new interest and respect -- TRACY CHEVALIER I couldn't put it down ... What a wonderfully woven tangle of stories, from dreamlike rememberings of her past to the intimate glimpses of a world behind the polished facade of the museum, bound together by her devotion to clothes. Claire looks at clothes with an obsessive's eye, analysing every stitch and imagining the history of every crease, stretch and wrinkle ... Pure delight -- LARA MAIKLEM, author of Mudlarking An exquisite book that works like a well-curated and eccentric exhibition. The chronology of time and the logic of life's sequences become irrelevant as you are led from one brightly-lit cabinet of memories and thoughts to another, while also learning about cloth, clothes and curating -- JULIA BLACKBURN, author of Time Song I loved its close detail, its sense of the warp and weft of life, of clothes and favoured objects. Everything seen is seen intensely. It's a book to linger over and return to -- LYNN KNIGHT, author of The Button Box Intelligent and tactile - part memoir, part beautifully curated collection of treasures. I loved it -- JOHN CRACE, author of Decline and Fail A series of exquisite meditations * Harper's Bazaar * I am LOVING Patch Work ... A joyous book about all the most important things. I'm going to give everyone I know a cop -- MEG ROSOFF
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