by Mary Longford

image of pink folded fabric draped over a womans hand


  • 1Still from Fold/Unfold
  • 2Still from Fold/Unfold
  • 3Still from Fold/Unfold

Still from Fold/Unfold


Fold/Unfold demonstrates Mary Longford's ongoing interest in cloth and clothing and the inaudible world of the inner voice.

Fold/Unfold uses the overlaying of the voice onto the image of the subject immersed in work and their surrounding environment. The physical and in a sense verifiable world is thereby counterbalanced with the more secret and psychological world of the interior narrative, itself as busy as the workplace.

Fold/Unfold is set in a  private and seemingly rural idyll where a woman is seen immersed in the hum-drum activity of handling bed linen on a washing line in a small paddock and later glimpsed putting the laundry away and changing the bed. The woman's busy hands never pause rather they move from task to task, all the time manipulating these most familiar yet intimate items of sheets, pillow cases and quilts. The comfort and tranquility of the pastoral, the domestic and the feminine ideal are however problematised throughout the work through the use of sound, primarily the woman's inner monologue.

Stuck in a perpetual cycle of trying to address unresolved feelings which have not been been vocalised this is the continuous loop of building resentment, regret, anger and self justification relieved only occasionally by the tenderness of memory. Not the dreamy realm of reverie and longing, it is rather, the confined headspace of repressed emotion.

Physical activity is seen to mirror the emerging narrative, as the sheets unfold so does the fragmented story of life and death events and just as laundry is an ongoing and repetitive task so the interior narrative seeks resolution through the constant replaying of events. However the domestic tasks which suggest a kind of ordering of the world, everything in its place, neat and tidy, clean and pressed down into drawers, emphasize the dark and unruly emotions which refuse to be put away and silenced.

The soundtrack also works to both accentuate the turmoil of the inner voice and to work against the rural idyll. At the start of the work sounds (dogs, a tractor, hammering, a chainsaw) are heard in the distance. Gradually as they get closer and louder they mirror the insistency and intrusiveness of the inner voice.


Year 2003
Duration 6 minutes
Medium Video installation: single video projection
Original format mini DV
Screening format single video projection
Aspect ratio 4:3
Audio Yes
Colour / B&W Colour
Screens 1

Screening history:

03 May - 07 June 2003
Newlyn Art Gallery
Newlyn, Cornwall, UK


Realised through a collaboration between Picture This and Newlyn Art Gallery.

Related Items:

Mary Longford

Mary Longford, through collaboration between Picture This and Newlyn Art Gallery produced her video work Fold / Unfold.