Skip to content

Diary of our daily threads:

Textiles, in essence, are vessels within which humanity can be treasured and memory honoured. This is an exploration of how fibres retain the essence of previous human interaction and thus have the potential to instigate valid, profound and varied levels of emotional connection. 

“It is about putting life back in where only a vague memory or a bare trace was visible to those who bothered to look. It is sometimes about writing ghost stories but also strive to understand the conditions under which a memory was produced in the first place toward a counter memory for the future.”

Excerpt from ‘Ghostly Matters: Haunting and the Sociological Imagination’ Avery F. Gordon, Janice Radway

My research to date has revealed evidence that man has devised means to trigger memory through aforementioned textile artifacts. Many participants revealed that they revisited their relationship with their loved ones as a result of their interaction with the object in question.The combined stories remain a powerful testimony to this fact and four major themes emerged which the case studies illuminate.These themes are ‘Lifecycles’, ‘Energy’, ‘Time’ and ‘Form’.
‘Time’- The Purse

Camille and the purse

Camille Baker speaks about the significance of a purse given to her by her mother who died suddenly in 2002.
‘It came to me with no story its just what it is, it definitely  has weird juxtapositions in it. So this is the remnants, this and her ashes are what I keep with me. Something beyond monetary value that was imbued in it this sort of elegance ..a fragile elegance, a sort of bizarre beauty.The remnants of something that live in the purse that’s different, speaks in a different language than words. There is something particularly about the chain and the grasping of it and keeping it connected to me,  like a holding of someone’s hand. It’s the only thing that she would have touched that is a physical embodiment of sorts.’ 
‘Lifecycles’- Shawl

 Eilis on the shawl given to her by her friend Brid on her death.

Eilis Lund on the shawl given to her by her friend Brid on her death.

‘The first time I saw the shawl was in 1960 when I was 12 years old.  I was sent out to the island to the house of Brid and her husband Edward to learn the Irish language. This shawl originally belonged to a woman called Barbara Joyce who was married on Inis Oirr in the 1930s. It was passed on to her sister Brid on her death. The shawl was used every Sunday by Brid to go to mass and it was a wonderful sight to see all the women of the island in the little white church with their beautiful colourful shawls. For 40 years I visited that house and became like a daughter to Brid and Edward, indeed ,it was a great honour to have been given the shawl when Brid finally went to heaven. I am a nurse and I make quilts which are my gift to members of my family, they will be passed down to their children in the years to come.’

‘Lifecycles’- The Jacket

Aidan and the jacket

Aidan talks about the jacket that his father wore when out working on the farm.

‘When my father was a child everyone wore wool. This jacket is made of wool. This is a Harris Tweed jacket. The men, his father, and the men before them would get a suit made every year.

Im not exactly sure how old this jacket is, it is at least 30 years old. People have gone away from wool.

The clothes today, my father said, are only rags compared to the clothes long ago they don’t last.

When wool gets wet it expands and it holds heat, cotton absorbs water and you get wet and cold. All the men wore dark clothes, most people worked outdoors -its better for working with animals and for working on the land, they don’t frighten the cattle or sheep..

‘Energy’ – Gloves

Ceridwen on her grandaunt Gwyneira

‘In the past when I’ve tried on her clothes I have had the strangest sensation that in some way I am her. Her dress, glove and shoe size seems to be exactly the same as mine. Genetically there is a history there and I feel she lives on in me. I’ve many things that she made not least a tea cosy that I use every day.

Gwyn taught me how to sew and in so doing passed her love of colour, her interest in all forms of textiles and clothing design. I believe that my decision to become a textile designer was largely due to the passion that Gwyn instilled in me for this practice and I will always feel grateful to her for this.’

‘Lifecycles’ -Bedspread

Chris O Loughlin with her mother Christina on the bedspread made by Christinas husbands mother and her sisters.

‘Everybody was given linens and bedding when they got married. I was brought to this house by Tom (my husband)  and his mother and aunts had made this bedspread among other bedding including the family bedding for laying out. We still have them all but only use them very rarely now. They would be from around 1890 or something like that.’

‘Form’ -Wooly hat

Brian Mc Carthy on his uncles hat

‘I feel as though I can understand what he went through more by my personal experience of the item, in a way he would never have been able to explain to me himself. The woolly hat, which protect the head, from which words come, acts as a bridge between us when those words were no longer possible, and are impossible now.’

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: