We often come across abandoned clothes, lost or discarded by their owners. These material items signal an absence from their former purpose, assuming their own life and existence in the environment where they are left behind. The reasons for their abandonment are vast, but meaningful. They can signify an array of meanings, from loss, absence, relationships, the past and presence. The act of discarding clothes sends a message and their existence affects both the spaces and people that inhabit them.
Abandonment can only be understood when exploring the material existence of a garment and its relationship with the people, objects or places it interacts with. There is a history, a present and a future, one that mysteriously eludes us as we walk by them. On the many travels artist Nel ten Wolde has undertaken in past years, she has become fascinated with the mysterious existence of abandoned clothes she comes across on her journey. Her curiosity for their former life, the reason for their abandonment and the way in which they become immersed in the spaces they come to inherit.
A Pilgrim’s Progress, a series of paintings and digital collage works, is Nel’s expression of the discarded and lost clothes that cross her path on the pilgrimage trails she has covered throughout Europe, especially Spain. There is a connection between the long and often desolate miles the artist covers on foot, with the deserted clothing strewn across fences, in river beds, along the path or roadside she is travelling.