The Embroiderers Guild 100 Hearts project commemorated the life of a loved one or those who died fighting in WW1, those who survived the war and those waiting at home. The completed embroidered hearts were exhibited in various locations around the UK.
As an ex-nurse I knew I wanted to commemorate the lives of the nurses and VAD's from WW1 and when doing my research I came upon this poem by Vera Brittain.
Epitaph On My Days in Hospital
I found you in a holy place apart
Sublime endurance, God in man revealed,
Where mending broken bodies slowly healed
My broken heart
I knew instantly that I wanted to include this powerful and moving poem on my heart and spent many hours trying to work out how. Eventually, I stumbled upon a sample of mono printing and stitch I made last year. This gave me the Eureka moment I needed to spur me on to completion. The printed landscape with its muted colours in dark grey looked to me like a battle field and the tiny pricks of red symbolised the poppies that grew after the war was over.
I decided to design the heart using mixed media techniques, firstly I printed the poem onto fabric and stitched the words onto the felt heart. The muslin fabric between the two halves has been left to fray organically and this is to symbolise bandages. As a final stage I added small amounts of red acrylic paint to symbolise blood.
I don't usually use symbolism in my work, however, this project really made me think about how the moving words of Vera Brittain brought all of the elements together to give a powerful message.
My heart was exhibited in the following venues:
Knit & Stitch, Alexandra Palace, London 11-14 October 2018
Bucks County Museum, Aylesbury 20 October 2018 - 12 January 2019
100 HEARTS EXHIBITIONS
“Lest we Forget” are the poignant words spoken by a generation long ago. Those who fought in World War 1 are now fading memories to the generation who came after, and soon they too will be lost to us. Stories of comradeship, bravery, victories and setbacks were captured in the letters sent back to relatives eagerly waiting for news or told by those who returned. In conjunction with SSAFA, the Embroiderers’ Guild was proud to be part of the commemoration of all those who took part in World War 1. Using cloth and thread as both a medium and metaphor, textile artists interpreted the stories as unique and sensitive images stitched onto hearts. The pieces illustrate to a new generation the men and the animals that accompanied them; the uniforms worn and medals won; the regiments that fought together and the family members fondly remembered; the songs that kept their spirits high and the words they wrote to those back home. These were unique and thoughtful exhibitions put together to fulfil the hope of a generation not to be forgotten.
I used a sample from an old project as my starting point.
The background with text.
Image of Vera Brittain.