Emotional Repair was a small solo exhibition in 2018 at Gawthorpe Hall. Much of the work in this exhibition is also included in my Textile Traces exhibition 2019.
The exhibition covered a wide range of personal and emotive subjects focused around loss and remembering and includes work made over the last two years as well as brand new pieces inspired by my research visits to Gawthorpe Textiles Collection in 2015 & 2017. Much of this work is deeply personal and touches on subjects which are hard to talk about so it may seem strange that I want to share them in this very public way, but we all know just how healing and cathartic it can be to make things when having a tough time. Textiles have such strong associations with domesticity, personal lives and family memory that they are the perfect means to express emotional stories. For me this works so well with the Gawthorpe Textile Collection, although Miss Rachel didn’t collect with this emotional response in mind, it is still one woman’s personal selection and it is displayed and preserved in her family home which brings an intimacy and personality beyond most museum collections. I aim to make pieces which are subtle, full of depth and open to personal interpretation and which intrigue the viewer as much as the historic textiles with their unknown emotional stories.
Some of the new work I created for the exhibition can be seen below. This exhibition also included my Pincushions, Sewing Box series, Genetic Inheritance and the Memorial Sampler.
This began with looking at museum collections of ‘Forget Me Not’ embroideries and memorial samplers. On reflection, I consider that there are some things that are better to forget than to remember, some things must be let go. Each tiny hand stitch in this time-consuming piece is an act of consciously letting go of the bad memories, the unhappy stories and the things which weigh us down. I am also referring to that fact that we can’t keep hold of memories, we forget things, however hard we try to keep them. Things fade and change and our memories can’t be trusted.
Vintage handkerchief with rose embroidery as found, my hand embroidery in silk thread. 2017-18
This piece, a reworking of an unfinished embroidery, is a simple memorial to a dear friend and lover who died suddenly, very young. Incomplete textiles and incomplete lives leave so many unanswered questions and so many stories untold.
Unfinished vintage embroidery, my own hand embroidery, wool thread. 2018
Baby clothes mean different things to different people. Some see only cuteness and happy memories while for others they represent deep sadness or loss. Stories of childlessness are rarely told but they are all around.
Antique baby shirt, my hand embroidery. 2018
In Jewish tradition, families returning from a funeral will eat a meal including round foods which symbolise the circle and cycle of life. This piece is in remembrance of my maternal family and inspired by mourning clothes in many museum collections.
Antique mourning lace sleeve, hand embroidery in silk, 2018
I have used old tools to celebrate and commemorate the skills and crafts of previous generations for some years, starting with my grandad’s gardening tools. These pieces were inspired by the work of Rachel Kay-Shuttleworth, the collector of textiles at Gawthorpe Hall and one of those collection items: her mother’s lace mourning glove, remade, repaired and preserved.
Vintage needlework tools, antique mourning lace, 2018
A self portrait of my own eye, stitched with donated human hair, inspired by a fragile hair embroidery in the Gawthorpe textiles collection and Georgian eye miniature paintings given to loved ones. This is an introspective piece, about looking and being looked at and seeing beyond the surface. It also references genetics and perceived identity.
Human hair, hand embroidery. 2017