Food is an important part of many cultures. Mealtimes bring back memories of daily routine, family traditions, celebrations and special people in our lives.
I have been slowly and patiently unravelling the threads from this old white embroidered tablecloth which I found in a vintage shop. It has a few stains and marks. It must hold stories and memories for someone in the past; I could smell the food and hear the conversations as the food was shared. The process is extremely close up and contemplative. Unpicking these stories felt like transgression and delving into someone’s private lives, which is why I have to be extra gentle and careful in my intervention. The process takes time and requires respect, valuing what was there, learning how the threads interweave and following the journey, making sense and making meaning and perhaps making it valuable again in a different way.
‘Mum started to lay out places all around the house. Knives, forks and spoons were placed on the television, on top of each radiator, on the kitchen worktop, on the seat of each armchair… Mum insisted our ‘guests’ were well fed, and went around the house putting healthy amounts of goose on each plate.’ Martin Slevin, The Little Girl in the Radiator – Mum, Alzheimer’s and me, 2012
I’m unpicking thread by thread and tracing the history of making through time. What is left is the less visible pattern of the embroidered flowers and leaves, illustrated by the traces of holes on the cloth where the needle once went through. What is unravelled appear to be long and short stories, with a sense of mystery and beauty.