Blog by artist/printmaker Dawn Cole
Last week was a busy one and unfortunately an unproductive one in my studio. On Friday i opened my exhibition at The Margate Gallery which featured a combination of past work and the new series of prints i have made recently from the pillowcases. The private view was good and i was very pleased to see i have started to reach a new audience. Laura Probert, author of Women of Kent Rally to the Cause and Ken Williams from Bygone Days, a re-enactment society both came along. I was very pleased that my work has started to reach those with a historical interest in the First World War. Some interesting discussions developed over the course of the evening.
Another very exciting development that evening was the offer, by archivist Graham Ward, to collaborate with me to catalogue Clarice’s archive and all the work made from it, including this current project. Graham Ward is a fascinating man, painter, illustrator, past Dreamland archivist, Librarian and bookseller, Graham now runs the wonderful Oscar’s Festival Cafe in Broadstairs. It will be a great experience to work with him.
Over the weekend i began the task of listing all the men’s names that i want to work with from the war graves in Wimereux. I have just been listing those who died on the dates that Clarice wrote in her diary. The idea of their lives crossing over, either in the hospital at Wimereux or through the coincidence of dates is something i want to explore further through this project. I now need to contact the War Graves Commission to check that it is ok for me to use the information from the graves in this way. Once i have permission i will begin to publish the roll and Clarice’s entries.
In the meantime i have started to photograph my growing collection of pillowcases. I have 25 so far and need about another 30. It seems to be getting harder to find them (probably because i have been buying them all) and i seem to have lost my knack on Ebay having been outbid several times lately. If any readers of this blog find any, and they must be hand embroidered, please get in touch!
This pillowcase featured is the first one i bought back in November 2011 when i was just beginning to develop my ideas. The stitches used for the embroidery are a a combination of stem stictch, satin stich, french knots and straight stitch. I bought it from Scotts Furniture Mart in Cliftonville so unfortunately it has no history beyond this. I think i paid 99p for it – an absolute bargain and i have to say my favourite pillowcase so far.
Each pillowcase will eventually be paired with one of the soldiers from Wimereux Cemetry and then everything associated with both will be archived an catalogued together. A permanent connection between past and present.