Blog by artist/printmaker Dawn Cole
It’s been a few weeks since i have added anything to the blog as i have been having a bit of a break from thinking. Sometimes i find that i think too much about something and in turn force myself to make decisions based on answers i think i have found or take a partcular direction. I found this was happening with Resting Place, but i wasn’t happy with the answers i thought i was finding. Hence, a self enforced break was needed to give the answers time to find me and for the decisions i need to make to feel like the right ones.
I have not been totally idle though. The fabric has been sent off to the seamstress to make me 55 pillowcases. These pillowcases will all be identical in size and style. October 25th 1914 the Army stores issued 3,000 pillowcases. This increased to 37,672 in 1917 and 31,452 in 1918. An enormous increase. Initially i was going to have my pillowcases made to the individual dimensions of all the vintage pillowcases i have been buying. The wish to provide a sense of the individual in this body of work is what was driving this decision. Another thought was to buy ready made pillowcases and then make them individual. However, thanks to my research and the information found i now feel happy with the decision to have the pillowcases specially made, as they would have been for the British Army in 1917/18. The addition of etched images and etched lace will render each pillowcase a unique piece and i hope convey some sense of individuality.
My self enforced break has also allowed me time to revisit Clarice’s diary. Although i have been working with it for 4 years now, there are still some words that i have found impossible to decipher. Clarice’s handwriting, at times, seems hurried, rendering the letters difficult to distinguish. This, combined with the fact that the ink is now very faded has not helped. However, this last week i have had two major break throughs.
I have been revisiting the diary as i have begun work on the imagery for the pillowcases and it has been important to me to use the correct words. First breakthrough was last Friday
29th September 1915
My first job was to help get the dressing tray ready with the staff sister, sterilise the instruments, prepare lotion and then go round each patient with sister and help with the dressings. Handing her the things required, fetching foments etc.
The word i was struggling with was foments; to apply heat and moisture to (a part of the body) to relieve pain and inflammation.
The same day she writes
Our worst patient was ‘Blue’ who had had an operation; several incisions in his leg, has a large wound in calf and ????
The last word looks like ‘seperated’, however i knew this could not be right. It just didn’t make sense. Today i tried typing in every connotation of the letters i thought were written and to my delight discovered that word is in fact ‘suppurated’; (of a wound, sore, etc.) to discharge pus; fester. Not pleasant but now each sentence makes perfect sense!
Hopefully back to reguler blogging from now on plus back in full production! Here’s a sneak preview of the image for the first pillowcase: