Embroider the Truth

Blog by artist/printmaker Dawn Cole

Until his final disposal

The Diary of Transference is an object I came across when researching in 2012. It is an object that is not in Clarice’s archive but relates to the labelling and recording system that was used for the wounded during WW1. I was struck by the wording on the envelope



”this envelope which must not be removed from the patient until his final disposal in the U.K”

DOT1             DOT2

Transference and Disposal

These two words have remained with me, their cold, practical inference of the journey of a wounded man from front line to ‘Blighty’.

However, they also suggest other references to me.

The dictionary definition of ‘transference’

1.a. The act or process of transferring.
b. The fact of being transferred.
2. The process by which emotions and desires originally associated with one person, such as a parent or sibling, are unconsciously shifted to another person, especially to a psychoanalyst during a course of treatment.

3. The act of transferring something from one form to another

and of ‘disposal’

1. A particular order, distribution, or placement
2. A particular method of attending to or settling matters.
3. Transference by gift or sale.
4. The act or process of getting rid of something.

To me these two words suggest

the emotional trauma and shell shock associated with conflict, the relationships that developed between comrades and those that developed during medical and psychological treatment. 

a solution to a massive problem; how to deal with so many wounded and what to do with the dead.

They bring me back to the archive and to my collection of pillowcases. I have long since realised that one of the reasons I felt compelled to save the suitcase that contained Clarice’s archive, even though at the time I had no idea that the case contained far more than old family photos, was the connection to my late Dad. In letting items go that he had kept for so long it felt like I would lose him all over again. Keeping things meant I was keeping a piece of him. A transference of my feelings of loss for him.

My latest series of works focus on the act of recording and archiving and specifically recording and archiving my pillowcase collection by carefully drawing the hand embroidered embellishments as dry point plates, and a series of simple block prints that records the colours of the cotton and silk threads used. These works will eventually be exhibited as a series laid out (well attached to the wall) referencing once again the layout of the war graves at Wimereux; a site I think of as a place of disposal.

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This entry was posted on May 14, 2015 by in Uncategorized.
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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