Category Archives: Stage 3 Developing design ideas

Part 5 Stage 3 Developing design ideas

I have sketched and pondered how to move forward with the samples I have produced. I have ideas of producing mourning jewellery from the distemper filled negatives, a mourning cape from the rust dyed fabric adding trims made from cine film. But they all seem hollow ideas. I came across a piece of paper on my work desk.. It was underneath a pile of my samples and i neither remember where I got the quote  upon it nor the author. But it came to me and settled something in my heart. I wanted to not make something abstract that had no obvious symbol of what had been haunting me since I started Exploring ideas and sought out my tribe. My family history. Whilst I want to explore a way of expressing myself that isn’t obvious, anecdotal. I wanted to show the discoveries and celebrate the life of my Great Grand Mother The quote reads:

‘Collections of work which evoke moments in our lives. Here are people and glimpses of stories making themes of our very existence. reminiscent works which reference mythology and storytelling, using the line of thread to connect relationships and define emotions such as suffering, hope and renewal.

These are punctuations which reveal the sense of self and identity, the making of connections between the touching and tactile quality of textile, and the expression of feelings’.

I copied the text and searched on-line for where I may have got it from. Fortunately I was successful in finding it as a quote on Alice kettles website.

I had been looking through my workbooks for all of Exploring ideas and there were certain approaches that when I looked they almost punched me in the stomach. The darning over faces was one set of samples that in my eye had a power to them. They resonated with me as I have had times in my life that I have wished I could erase myself from. The act of removing a face, and as I wrote, ‘Can we obliterate the past?’ We can remove our images from photographs, but we cannot remove those experiences from our history.

I undertook therapy a few years ago, where I explored my own history and I worked on events, relationships and how they had shaped my own view of myself. It was painful, hard work and most of the time I would have run away from doing it. What I had hoped for and what I got from it was the truth of who I am I was able to see a truth that had been obscured by other people’s word and actions to me that I had believed. They were wrong and I was able to be guided to the truth with the care of my therapist. She once told me ” We cannot rewrite our past, but we can learn to live with it in a different way.’

As I was working with my therapist, I started to work on a patchwork. It had items from my past within it. Quotes, thoughts, a glove from my first wedding and more. I was building a ‘wrapping cloth’. A cloth that I would have wished to present and gift  to myself when I was born. It would have words of encouragement and in painful lonely times I would have used it to wrap around myself to feel the warmth of the love that went into its production. As I read the quote from Alice kettle, I knew that I would like to make a similar quilt that would hold the many approaches i have worked on as I have progressed though Exploring Ideas. I feel It will allow me to produce something that has a story to tell. That a viewer would need, if they wished to take time to see all it contains. The hidden stories and textures that I have gathered.

The course notes ‘Design is as much about what you leave out as what you include and the ability to be succinct needs practice’. I feel that in the next stage of gathering together those approaches that are important to me, I will be able to  asses as I move forward. In my reintroduction to being materials led, I shall allow myself to judge each section of the quilt, as I go along.

These thoughts and realisations move me into Stage 4, Making a story board. In deed that is exactly where I am now. A board that tells not only the story of what samples and approaches I can take forward, but also of which aspects of my tribes story I reveal.


Kettle, A. (2016). Alice Kettle | Textile Artist Gallery. [online] Available at: [Accessed 2 May 2016].



22.05.2015 Personal project

Time was of the essence in producing these images as the buildings are to be demolished on the 27th May 2015. I managed to have enough blood extracted to make the prints. I am calling these images ‘In my Grand-Mothers Footsteps’.

in my grand-mothers footsteps i

in my grand-mothers footsteps i

in my Grand-mothers footsteps ii

in my Grand-mothers footsteps ii

As I prepared myself for this work my mind was drawn to how my grand-mother and great grand-mother would have felt when they had to step over the threshold. I was simply there to add my generations D.N.A to the building, they had their hair shorn, clothes removed, deloused and the workhouse uniform to contend with. Whilst I know the emotional damage caused to them and  how that impacted on my life, I did feel a sense of sadness for their experiences and also a feeling of pride that despite all they came through it.

A few days later I revisited the site this time in the evening to project the cine film onto the workhouse exterior, this piece of work I am calling ‘From the grave to the cradle’. It is depicting how something that lived inside my Grandmothers’ died when they entered the workhouse, in their ability to love and be whole. This impacted on my father and then in his relationship with me. It contains cine film that I inherited from my Father, images taken of me of which I had not seen it’s content until the projection on the workhouse walls. The viewing was difficult in many ways as it showed me as a vulnerable child whom I know to have endured terrible incidents. It also showed a child who despite all looked to be happy and thriving. I saw the mask of normality in the form of Whitsuntide events, visits to the park and playing in the garden. I knew what was hiding behind the clothes, the smiles and the supposedly happy family scenes. I also felt a sense of pride in myself for overcoming my difficult life events. the first time in this process that I have felt pride for who I had become, despite my upbringing. I had found my way to contemplate my life from the chain of events that had gone before and their impact had echoed down the generations.

I had hoped to have the images much larger so as to show the outline of the workhouse building, but unfortunately the projector I had only allowed an image size of 6 foot tall which whilst filming in order for the images to be clearly visible I had to film quite close up to the wall.

Click the link below to view the video.