Embroider the Truth

Blog by artist/printmaker Dawn Cole

The last hankie

First I must warn all who read this – it is possibly the first of two posts today. There seems to be a lot to say and one just may not be enough.

This week, for me, is a series of anniversaries, each with its own significance, emotion, commemoration and recognition.

100 years since the start of WW1

a close friends birthday

my late Dad’s birthday

the anniversary of my Dad passing away

my in-laws 60th wedding anniversary



Each a moment to remember, reflect, acknowledge and some to celebrate.


Two out of the 5 are easy – celebrate

One – acknowledge that without this day I would not exist. A day that would once have been a celebration now a day tinged with sadness and an empty space  mixed with a need to still acknowledge his day.

One – a day whose events have never diminished, even after 19 years

One – that I have never witnessed, and can only experience through the records and recollections of others. Can only ‘remember’ in the context of today, here and now. An anniversary that will, in my mind, always be linked to current conflict and suffering.


As an artist working with the memories of another I feel a responsibility to use those memories wisely and with respect and find myself questioning today. Questioning because I remember every day, not just today. By allocating a specific day/date/time does that make an event have greater significance? Or does it diminish the fact that for many their memories and experiences may be with them every waking moment and every sleeping nightmare and dream. I have no answer.

As an artist using my creativity to respond to the experiences of another, each day is an acknowledgment, a reflection and a commemoration. When thoughts lead to a new work that is shared with an audience it is very difficult to know just how that work will be received. This seems particularly difficult at the moment with the centenary of WW1. There is the danger of being seen as ‘jumping on the bandwagon’ and makes it even more important to ensure each and every idea/thought/research and outcome has integrity (or at least I hope it has)



please take one_1


On Sat I was at Knole House for the ‘meet the artist’ event of The Send Off exhibition. This thought-provoking, sensitive exhibition (read more about it on my last blog post here) has so far had a very positive response from the visitors. My hankies had all been taken by the time I arrived and I wondered what people felt and thought as they became the owner of one. Did it make them reflect, did they question taking one? Who took the last one? Will they be kept safe, treasured or used and discarded?


Maybe I should have offered a way for people to record where the hankies end up, maybe not?

And then I was alerted to an entry in the comments book:

An entry made by Mr Hall

Very emotive. Dad served in the 1st  W. War. I took and returned the last hankie


Image from the comments book reproduced by kind permission of Knole House

Image from the comments book reproduced by kind permission of Knole House



2 comments on “The last hankie

  1. Jan Ginesi
    September 9, 2014

    Must have been a wonderful display & day. dawn – my dear Dad passed away on our eldest daughters 30th birthday. He is still very sadly missed after 14 years – & for several years I found it very difficult to celebrate our daughter birthday. She found it amazing that he had chosen HER day. There are always many different aspects of a live story. LOVE your ideas. Only wish we lived nearer.

    • dawncole
      September 9, 2014

      Yes Jan, strange how dates collide like that across time. Thank you.

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This entry was posted on August 4, 2014 by in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , .
Resting Place is supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.
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All images and content © Dawn Cole 2013
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