My short history of sewing

As a teenager I used to make a lot of my own clothes, going to jumble sales and bringing home sacks of dresses, chopping them up to make something new. It is how I learned to use a needle.

But it was with Conversations with my mother I began to stitch into the photographs… it was a way to tie us together in thought and deed, to spend time with images of us. For more about this click here.

It is extremely important that it’s the actual photograph which is stitched, pricked and wounded, rather than working onto an image printed on fabric. The photograph is the representation of thing that was, the ‘thing’ that represents the thing in the world. Both the thing-ness of something – and the photograph itself… have their own meaning, language and history. My piercing of the image started there. Working on paper leaves a hole. This is important. And it is the through-line I follow between then and now. Barthes use of the word punctum is a touchstone for me.

This is part of a trilogy of works that are embroidered pictures of my mother in the garden. The work is small – 4 x 5 inches – and edged in blanket stitch. This is a really good example of the photographic and the cloth, where each medium has their own history which comes together for me in the thing that I am making.

Reading Conversations with my mother – text audio.

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