Ann Mitchell

MA Printmaking

Ann is a Cambridge based artist. She is primarily a printmaker, but also uses paint, collage and fabrics in her work.

‘The Wrinkled Cloak of Invisibility’ was born out of a personal investigation into what it feels like becoming an older woman, as well as a desire to challenge negative stereotypes around ageing.

Rather than a ‘tell it like it is’ approach, Ann’s practice uses ambiguity to invite questions or provoke inquiry.  In this work the aim was to create something that challenged the perceived ugliness of wrinkled skin and find some way of celebrating the energy, life, creativity and capacity for joy that lie behind the wrinkles. The initial plan was to engage a range of participants through questionnaires, interviews and practical workshops to explore feelings, perceptions and narratives, with the aim of creating a physical work and / or a performance that reflected those feelings and would enable the voices of older women to be heard.

The pandemic, and the resulting lockdown, presented numerous challenges in the work’s development. The uncertainties of how long the restrictions would be in place, the emotional and mental problems experienced by so many people during lockdown, and the difficulties in maintaining momentum in the project all had an impact on the way the work progressed.  Planned collaborative work, including any performance element, had to be rethought.

Active engagement was restricted to questionnaires and requests for images, and the group involved was smaller and less diverse than initially planned. However, a small group was able to meet at a later date (appropriately socially distanced) to devise a performance element to the work. Instead of a busy park, this took place in a local orchard, with a few passers-by as audience.

In terms of exhibition, the original aim was to encourage an element of participation, or at least active engagement, by enabling viewers to try on the cloak, and explore ‘donning the wrinkled cloak of invisibility’, however this will have to wait until the pandemic is over.