Wearing your heart on your sleeve as a visual sign that you’re in a delicate place emotionally – the Victorians seemed to do this thing so well, but it has gone out of fashion in our society. I think the nearest thing we have now is a t-shirt for when you’re running a race or taking on some charity challenge in support of someone you love who’s affected by cancer or (as I’ve done in the past) Huntington’s Disease.
I did a workshop a couple of weeks ago at blocprojects on expressing grief and loss through textiles, just because it sounded interesting and I’ve previously tried to describe the experience of loss through writing about my family and doing my comic.
I didn’t really expect the workshop to be so powerful but it is still fresh in my mind, especially as one of my closest friends is seriously ill and although there’s been no formal prognosis yet, we are coming to terms with the realisation that she is not likely to pull through. We were making armbands in the workshop, commemorating a person we had lost, and representing something they had loved – strawberries, music, a landscape, a colour. My friend was very chic and tended to dressed in 50 shades of black but has always loved a bit of leopard print, and the heart and stars is to represent the love going out to her from an incredible network of friends across the world.
Since doing this, I’ve started wanting to make collages with fabric and other decorations – ribbon, beads, old earrings as well as paper, and it’s opened up a new avenue of ideas and possibilities. I’m a very bad hand-sewer, by the way, much more interested in colour and layers of texture than in neat stitching, but that’s OK – I want the pieces to be a bit quirky and 3D (back to the idea of working in 3D) rather than a finely wrought piece of textile art. And just as well, as I can still remember the tutor on my Access to Foundation Art course looking at my attempts at textile art, and saying it reminded her of one of those travelling tinkers who used to wear every scrap of ribbon, lace and feather on their person to advertise their wares. She didn’t mean it at all as a compliment, but you know, now I’ve got nothing to prove, I think I’ll take it as one anyway.