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embroidery, women

Women from around the world helped create the Red Dress as a collective embroidery project.

Few things bring people together more beautifully than art. Whether it's music, sculpture, paint or fabric, the arts are a way for us to express ourselves, our cultures and our common humanity.

But rarely do we witness one singular piece of art truly encapsulating the creativity of our human family.

At first glance, the dress created for the Red Dress project is quite obviously stunning. It looks as though it could be worn by a royal—though a royal from where? The style, colors and patterns of the dress don't shout any particular country or culture; in fact, we can point to different elements of it and say it looks like it belongs on any continent.


There's a reason for that. The dress is made out of 84 pieces of burgundy silk dupion, which have spent the past 13 years being sent around the world to be embroidered by 343 people from 46 countries—a truly global, multicultural creation.

Of those 343 embroiderers, 136 were commissioned artisans who were paid for their work and receive a portion of all ongoing exhibition fees. The rest were volunteers who contributed their stitches at events in various countries. Just seven of the embroiderers were men.

British textile artist Kirstie Macleod conceived the project in 2009 as "an investigation into identity, with a desire to connect with women from the around without borders and boundaries." The basic design started as a sketch on the back of a napkin and has grown into a tangible garment that is not only a gorgeous work of art but a platform for women around the world and from all walks of life to express themselves and have their voices heard.

As shared on the project's website:

"Embroiderers include female refugees from Palestine and Syria, women seeking asylum in the UK from Iraq, China, Nigeria and Namibia, victims of war in Kosovo, Rwanda, and DR Congo; impoverished women in South Africa, Mexico, and Egypt; individuals in Kenya, Japan, Turkey, Sweden, Peru, Czech Republic, Dubai, Afghanistan, Australia, Argentina, Switzerland, Canada, Tobago, Vietnam, Estonia, USA, Russia, Pakistan, Wales, Colombia and England, students from Montenegro, Brazil, Malta, Singapore, Eritrea, Norway, Poland, Finland, Ireland, Romania and Hong Kong as well as upmarket embroidery studios in India and Saudi Arabia."

On Instagram, Kirstie Macleod shared a panel of the dress that was embroidered by two women in Kosovo, who shared some of their reflections on their experiences in the war there.

They stitched words into the birds they embroidered:

"Better one winter in your own country than a hundred springs away."

"The greatest wealth is to live content with little."

"Freedom has come. Love yourself first."

"Love all. Trust some. Hate none."

"A winter is a winter. Be nice, everyone."

"We live in peace now."

The creation of the dress began in 2009 and was completed in 2022. Each woman embroidered a piece of her own story into the dress, which contains millions of stitches. From established professional artisans to first-time embroiderers, the women were encouraged to share something that expressed their personal identities as well as their cultures. Some used traditional embroidery styles that had been practiced for hundreds of years where they are from. Others stitched in meaningful elements of their life stories. Some of the women are also using textile work to rebuild their lives and earn a consistent living.

The dress is on tour, being displayed in museums and galleries around the world. The photos showing women of various ages and ethnicities wearing the dress are made all the more moving knowing the history of how and by whom it was made.

Absolutely stunning. What a wonderful idea to connect women in a way that lets them share their stories and showcases and beautifully honors them.

A breastfeeding mother's experience at Vienna's Schoenbrunn Zoo is touching people's hearts—but not without a fair amount of controversy.

Gemma Copeland shared her story on Facebook, which was then picked up by the Facebook page Boobie Babies. Photos show the mom breastfeeding her baby next to the window of the zoo's orangutan habitat, with a female orangutan sitting close to the glass, gazing at them.

"Today I got feeding support from the most unlikely of places, the most surreal moment of my life that had me in tears," Copeland wrote.

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True

You could say Marine biologist, divemaster and National Geographic Explorer Dr. Erika Woolsey is a bit of a coral reef whisperer, one who brings her passion for ocean science to folks on dry land in a fresh, innovative and fun new way using virtual reality.

Images courtesy of Meta’s Community Voices film series

Her non-profit, The Hydrous, combines science, design, and technology to provide one-of-a-kind experiential education about marine life. In 2018, Hydrous produced “Immerse 360”, a virtual underwater journey through the coral reefs of Palau, with Dr. Woolsey as a guide.

Viewers got to swim with sharks, manta rays and sea turtles while exploring gorgeous aquatic landscapes and learning about the crucial role our oceans play—all from 360° and 3D footage captured by VRTUL 2 underwater storytelling VR cameras.


Hydrous then expanded on the idea to develop two more exciting augmented adventures using Meta Quest 2 technology: “Expedition Palau,” a live event where audiences can share a “synchronized immersive reality experience”, which includes live narration from Woolsey, and “Explore,” a “CGI experience” to enjoy the magic of the ocean at home.


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“I’ve been extremely fortunate to explore and study coral reefs around the world,” Woolsey said, sharing that it was “heartbreaking” to see these important habitats decay so rapidly while the latest scientific reports did not clearly lead to widespread compassionate action.

“How do we care about something we never see or experience?” she reflected. As she discovered, virtual reality would be a powerful solution for eliciting empathy. “VR has the ability to generate presence and agency and make you feel like you’re there. It's that emotional connection that can bridge scientific discovery and public understanding”

The combination of virtual reality and the ocean’s natural breathtaking beauty is, as Woolsey puts it, a “match made in heaven” for getting people more engaged in ocean education. “When you’re floating you can look up and down and all around you…seeing a school of fish surrounding you and reefs in these cathedral-like structures. Rather than watching a video of a scientist, you get to become the scientist.”

Hydrous also has special kits to provide middle school students hands-on learning about ocean life. In addition to a journal, activity cards and a smartphone VR viewer, each kit includes lifelike 3D printed model pieces of a coral reef so that middle school students can try building their own.

These reef models even turn white when temperatures rise inside the aquarium, which mimics the real “bleaching” that corals endure when they die due to higher than normal ocean temperatures. Students really do become scientists as they figure out how to bring color back to their reef.

While it’s true that the health of our oceans affects us all, the growing threats our oceans face—pollution, overfishing, climate change—don’t always affect us on an empathetic level. Through the use of technology, Woolsey has created an innovative way to connect hearts and minds to one of the Earth’s most important resources, which can inspire real and lasting change.

“We can’t bring everybody to the ocean, but we’re finding scalable ways to bring the ocean to everyone.”

To learn more about Hydrous, click here.

via UNSW

This article originally appeared on 07.10.21


Dr. Daniel Mansfield and his team at the University of New South Wales in Australia have just made an incredible discovery. While studying a 3,700-year-old tablet from the ancient civilization of Babylon, they found evidence that the Babylonians were doing something astounding: trigonometry!

Most historians have credited the Greeks with creating the study of triangles' sides and angles, but this tablet presents indisputable evidence that the Babylonians were using the technique 1,500 years before the Greeks ever were.


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