Kim Cotton

BA (Hons) Hand Embroidery


The Camouflaged Woman is a data-inspired, textile art piece. It draws attention to the recognised invisibility of female military personnel and female military veterans. Using contrasting elements and materials, this work combines exquisite haute couture materials with Government issued, hard-wearing UK Armed Forces uniforms and other militaria. The hand embroidery is designed to be aesthetically beautiful yet undistinguishable and intriguing, inviting the audience to look closer both visually and metaphorically.

This hand embroidered piece is specifically designed to explore preconceived opinions, to provoke, and even rebuke the audience for their views of women who serve, and who have served, in the UK Armed Forces. It challenges preconceived ideas that soldiers, sailors and air personnel are male and white, with Military Veterans stereotypically being seen as male, white and old. Taking inspiration from her experiences of having her own military service downplayed in comparison to that of her male colleagues, Kim has designed this piece to reflect and reinforce the feeling of invisibility that female serving personnel and female veterans experience.

At first glance, this piece is a standard issue, uniform shirt, the cut of which reinforces the assumption that the wearer is male. As the audience draws closer, they have their preconceptions of modern day Service Personnel challenged by the linear ‘women’ embroidery on the sleeves, and size differences between the pink and blue threaded, embellished rank circles. Retaining the functionality of the garment illustrates that female Service Personnel reduce the functionality of the Armed Forces only in the mind of an audience who don’t challenge what they expect to see.

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The Camouflaged Woman
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The Camouflaged Woman
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A discrete, continuous, winding line of spine chain stitch, from cuff to shoulder, with subtle 'woman' embroidery.
Kim Cotton | Fashion & Textiles 3
Comparable gold work circles representing the latest numbers of male and female senior military officers in the Royal Navy, British Army and Royal Air Force.
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Hand-embroidered, gold work rank circle, embellished with tambour embroidered sequins on blue thread.
Kim Cotton | Fashion & Textiles 1
Hand-embroidered, gold work rank circles, embellished with tambour embroidered beads and sequins on blue and pink threads.
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