Artist Fiona McLachlan-Powell has proposed to create sculptural installations inspired by the female agricultural workers from the past called bondagers, who worked in agriculture in East Lothian and Berwickshire. The installation will be of sculptural objects taken from the material culture of the bondagers. They were hired at a hiring fair by hinds who needed their labour.
The bondagers habitually received poor treatment and the hinds resented having to pay to hire them, being tied to the land by the bond paid for a year. They had very little of anything and protected their skin from severe weather with the uglies (a hat) with a sheltering rim. Though how much protection this gave is questionable. Blankets were used to separate sleeping quarters from the families they lived with, as improvising their own space.
Fiona will recreate the ‘uglies’ using nylon tights as the main fabric. This item of a woman’s clothing is intimate in nature to emphasise the feminine. The six uglies in the piece will become more and more threadbare and ruined to emphasise the bondagers reduced rights and vulnerability.