Embroider the Truth

Blog by artist/printmaker Dawn Cole

Where shall I sleep tonight?

This week has very much been a thinking week, with very little productive making. My thoughts have once again turned to pillowcases, thanks to a talk at the Freud Museum.

How the Textile Works : Transformational Matter and Tactile Space
An illustrated talk by Claire Pajaczkowska
This talk focused on ideas of textiles as skin, a boundary or membrane, its associations with touch and holding and the concept of holding, as container.

The idea of textiles as a container interests me. In being a container a textile holds the body, contains it, but also acts as a membrane, a barrier or protection.
The bodily encounter we have with textiles is multi sensory; through touch, gaze and smell
Textiles have the power to evoke emotion through memory and familiarity

In association with pillowcases this leads me to the following;
A pillowcase is made to contain a pillow, to create a barrier that protects the pillow from becoming soiled
Our bodily encounter with the pillowcase is primarily through our face, hands and upper body.
We connect with the pillowcase through smell and touch
The touch of the pillowcase has the ability to evoke feelings of safety, security and comfort
Our presence on the pillowcase is captured by the textile and in the textile becoming a container of evidence of a presence.
A witness

The embellishment of a pillowcase, who is that for? What purpose does it serve?

Identification and identity
Aesthetics
Personalisation
As an act of making/building something
Colour
Ownership
Comfort
Familiarity

I keep coming back to the thought ‘the pillowcase changes but the pillow remains’

The empty pillowcase as a symbol of change, loss, emptiness, death. A container of DNA, a witness to a life, a presence.

Sleep well. Vintage hand embroidered pillowcase

He was only a shabbily dressed recruit

He was his only mother’s son

He was new to the uniform he wore

He was new to the sword and gun

He enquired of the Sergeant, who was having a smoke

Where shall I sleep tonight?

The Sergeant looked at him and cried

You can sleep where the hell you like

He was only a soldier hurriedly drilled

Every nerve in his body was more than thrilled

He was there in the trench, taking aim at the Hun

For it was neck or nothing and the hour had come

Where shall I sleep if I am killed?

The Sergeant turned and sharply said

You can sleep where the hell you like

T.W Sterrett

1916

Poem taken from the autograph book belonging to Miriam Verena Spratling (my grandmother) . Miriam worked as a VAD Nurse at The Colony, Ewell, Nr Epsom during WW1. It is believed this poem was written by one of the soldiers she nursed.

Miriam Verena Spratling c1917

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This entry was posted on May 14, 2012 by in Uncategorized and tagged , , , .
Resting Place is supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.
Supported by Kent County Council

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In collaboration with Platform-7
All images and content © Dawn Cole 2013
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