My mother died when I was thirteen months old on 3rd January 1948. She was thirty one years old. She had Leukaemia at a time when there was little treatment, let alone a cure. I am horrified by her death so young, and a little baby losing her mother so early, almost as if I am thinking about people I don’t really know. And yet losing my mother has defined me in so many ways. I have no memories of her. But I can see now my passion for textiles comes in part from trying to hold something of her.
I have one thing she made. It’s this folded satin embroidered handkerchief sachet.
What delights me most is the care and passion she has invested in the details – the embroidery, the quilting, and the gathered lacy edge.
But it is the tiny embroidered rosebuds that have created an extraordinary link for me to my mother. Some years ago I decided to do a painting of the hanky sachet. As I painted I made a discovery, something only she knew and I now know.
The rosebuds look randomly scattered. However I realised she had created a clear order and quite a complex pattern to their direction and placement – pink on one diagonal, blue on the other, and mauve on the edges. This continues to feel like a powerful shared secret, a bond, unspoken but real, a genuine kind of communication and connection with my mother – almost as good as a memory when you have none.
Looking at my hanky sachet today I realise the maker in her is also in me and has inspired and informed my Woven Memories work.