Tuesday, 23 March 2021

Looking from both sides

 I am still working towards my PhD Final Exhibition, now scheduled for 7th February - 4th March 2022, and on my thesis. There is a particular piece, a long hanging, that I am currently stitching that I'd like to share with you. I am calling it simply 'Father, Forgive' and there is an important image within it that I'll just talk a little about here.

Image from the base of the nurse's cape.

This is the image of a girl holding the wrist of an injured man, seen as stitched on the nurse's cape, which image I had already used in my piece 'Continuum'. I decided to stitch her again on the cape as I felt it important to show how compassion had not been killed by the violence that sewed seeds of fear, tension and mistrust in the population and, of course, the nurse's cape is by itself a symbol of healing and compassion.

As is my wont, I used a hoop to enclose a small area of the cape to achieve the stitching and it was when I was looking at the back of the stitching after much of it was done that I was struck by the power of this rear of the stitches.

Girl seen from rear of fabric

For me, the stitches here have a raw quality not evident from the front that somehow lends the image a greater universality than the more obvious image of the young woman. The empty, open cavity of the mouth and pits of dark fabric that signify the eyes act to emphasise the horror of the moment of violence.

On the new hanging, I am using this rear view printed out digitally in different guises; solidly as here against the deep, dark navy of the background, ghostly and pale with an ethereal quality given to it by the transparency of organza fabric and, printed in a smaller version, set within a larger rectangle of cotton silk-painted in red.

The hanging will be long, floor-length and is designed to witness not only to the conflict of the Troubles but also to point to the importance of forgiveness and reconciliation without which the Peace Process could never have happened. Peace and the continuing path of reconciliation need now to be preserved within the uncertainty of the current political situation brought about not by the Covid-19 pandemic but by Brexit with all its problems surrounding the border and much more.

More images will follow as the hanging progresses and there is also an article I wrote on my work for a Special Issue of Contemporary Voices; The St. Andrews Journal of International Relations which will be due to be published fairly soon  -  news on this in due course.