This week I managed to finish the first of four Memory Boxes for the EAST exhibition “Between the Lines”, the first venue for which is at the Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace in October 2014.
The idea for the four Memory Boxes came about whilst researching the poet Edward Thomas and reading from his daughter’s autobiography, One of These Fine Days, the account of receiving the news of his death.
“On that bright April day after Easter, when mother was sewing and I was awkwardly filling in the pricked dots on postcard with coloured wool, embroidering a wild duck to send to France, I saw the telegraph boy learn his red bicycle against the fence. Mother stood reading the message with a face of stone. "No answer" came like a croak, and the boy rode away.”
Edward Thomas enlisted in the Artists Rifles in 1915 and was killed by a shell in an advance on the German line at Arras in 1917. Another book that I have started to read is “A Conscious Englishman“ by Margaret Keeping which is a novel about Edward and Helen Thomas, their relationship, his depression and his motivation for enlisting.
The Memory Boxes will each contain a letter home kept as a precious memory of a loved one who may not have returned inspired by the account by Myfanwy Thomas of when her mother received the news of her father’s death when they were sitting together sewing.
After researching and working on the pieces for the exhibition it was really nice a few Saturdays past to go and see the stage version of War Horse and to see the backdrop created by Rae Smith. I came across the sketches on the National Theatre website last year which gave me the idea for creating the Rolling Landscapes Novembering/Remembering. The simple pencil sketches of a rural English landscape which gradually changes to a landscape of war - explosions, burnt and blackened trees and destruction projected onto the torn paper shaped backdrop was very effective and worked in harmony with the amazing puppets.
In addition to the Rolling Landscapes and the Memory Boxes I have also created two stitched fabric collages showing a stitched, blackened tree as a memorial to the fallen and the sketchy impression of poppies created by using the reverse of a block printed fabric.