Mary Stark’s journey to complete her PhD in 2020 began while studying Embroidery at Manchester Metropolitan University. A fourth generation Mancunian needlewoman, she experimented with sound and video, and began to consider editing as a way to ‘stitch’ different elements together to create new meanings. Her films today respond to the history of terminologies, techniques and apparatus from textile practice adopted by filmmaking in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, and the forgotten women who worked in the cutting rooms of early cinema.
For Delia (2016) responds to the archive of Delia Derbyshire, the pioneering figure in British electronic music behind the theme tune of Doctor Who. The 1400 foot 35mm film print translates her hand-drawn graphic scores into sprocket holes, splicing tape, finger prints, dust specks, scribbles, scrawls, typewritten text, scraps of fabric, lace and thread, alluding to an absent female body.
Working in a new area of experimental film and animation that builds on ‘Reel Time’ by British artist Annabel Nicholson, Mary created Film as Fabric (2013-2017); an expanded cinema performance responding to feminist discussion. The work developed through numerous iterations which were devised, and often performed, in former cotton mills in Manchester showing analogue film as fabric and stitching as editing informed by the process of making a dress. Her visible presence editing, stitching and projecting film interrogates the hidden labour of women in early film.