Then there were 3…by Karen Alderson

Last week Julie, Jane and myself met with Ebony at Bankfield Museum and set the launch date for the exhibition, this will be on Saturday 11 November 2017 12-4pm in the Education room upstairs.  All are welcome, there will be drinks and nibbles. The exhibition will  be situated upstairs in the left corridor. The launch will take place on the same day as the Calderdale Open Exhibition and so there will be lots to see. This feels both exciting and not so exciting.

I begin to worry as I cannot “see” how I will display the work I have already made. We have 9 months to complete, I’m being premature, a baby can develop in this time, I’m doubting myself. It is a good motivator but those who suffer from anxiety will know, such situations can trigger a sense of being frozen if not managed.

Another big change is that Edie Jolley has left the group due to needing time out to look after herself after big personal changes. We will miss her and wish her a speedy recovery and strength on her journey. On the basis of this change and in line with looming deadlines for publicity we have decided on a new name for the group: Ellipsis… This is defined as “the omission from speech or writing of a word or words that are superfluous or able to be understood from contextual clues. Jane Pugh suggested this name which indicates our changing group status from 4 to 3 artists.

For the past month I have been busy film editing, or, more accurately, learning how to edit film, it is a laborious but rewarding process. My intention is to complete it by early February so that I can concentrate on stitch. I showed the unfinished film to someone who said the film brought to mind the phrase “repairing yourself”. This was a response to one shot where I am mending a T shirt found on Brow Lane.  I took it home, washed and ironed it and then set about mending the holes with a simple darning and running stitch. I had been reading “Slow Stitch” by Clare Wellesley-Smith who advocates the meditative act of stitching. After the excitement of Friday’s meeting at Bankfield and the change in the group I needed something to repair my frayed nerves. The repetitive stitching certainly helped. p1080556

I continued to think about the word“repair’. “Re…pair’ which suggests the putting back together after something has come apart; there has been a split, a rupture, something in pieces that has lost its unity.  So when we repair something or repair ourselves we are attempting to return to a previous identity of unbroken. However, this is impossible as we cannot erase history, we cannot return without having had the experience of damage, it fundamentally changes the nature of someone or something. The quality of repair will also change the prior state.

Post modern theories of illness point out that the medical narrative is one of “fixing” and returning a person to their prior unblemished state of health after a trauma or illness. However, in many instances there are incurable diseases, irreparable disabilities or where people have to live with tragedy, loss of a limb or a function.  These people are misfits in the system as they cannot be returned to their former identity. They challenge the medical establishment’s myth that health can be fully restored & everyone can “go back”. We never do, we’re continually transforming ourselves. Sometimes the adaptation to the new identity is the most important part of the healing journey. c.f. The Wounded Storyteller by Arthur W. Frank.

I like the Japanese practice of Kintsugi or Kintsukuroi, the repairing of broken ceramics with cement mixed with powdered precious metals. It is a philosophy that sees breakage and repair as part of the history of an object, rather than something to hide. It challenges our culture’s obsession with the perfect body that is promoted in the media via airbrushed images and the focus on youthful bodies.

Visible repair challenges the assumption that we can go through trauma and then return to an identity we had before as if nothing had happened. We are the sum of our experiences, the more life we accumulate the more cuts, breaks & rips we endure. To hide these is tantamount to ironing away our wisdom and our individual repair skills to fashion perpetual emergent selves. I intend to investigate repair and distortion through stitch.

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