Heart to heart
Updated: Jul 9, 2019
I have recently been involved with 2 similar but very different projects.
Both are commemorating the pincushion hearts that injured service men made during their convalescence in the first world war. You can read more about them on my projects pages.
Embroiderers Guild 100 Hearts
The Embroiderers Guild 100 Hearts project is to commemorate 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 will be 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 in the battle fields.
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.
You can see a wonderful video of the exhibition here.
You can purchase one of the hearts and your part of your donation will go towards SSAFA the armed forces charity helping people who have been affected by the trauma of war, rebuild their lives. Follow this link to the instructions of how to make a donation.
You can find my heart here!
All the hearts that have not been sold will continue their journey in a travelling exhibition through 2019 and 2020.
Sawdust Hearts Project
The Sawdust Hearts Project organised by the wonderful Helen Birmingham from Untangled Threads aims to highlight the benefits of Occupational Therapy and the power of craft in healing. It involves the co-ordination and creation of 1,568 replica, embroidered and pinned WW1 sawdust filled hearts. This is one for every day of the First World War.
I was drawn to this project as soon as I stumbled upon it whilst doing research for the other heart project and wanted to take part. It was an exciting moment when the box and all its contents arrived and I spent a happy half hour or so watching all of the information "how to" videos on Helen's website which gave such a great overview of the whole process.
I had a sample of gesso, acrylic and free machine embroidery I wanted to incorporate and that along with a green velvet fabric and beads from my stash formed the starting point.
I was pleased with the fabric which was left over from when I made my daughter and her partner dragon wings and ears for a festival a year or so ago.
I found the pinning of this heart very therapeutic and can quite understand how it would have helped with the recovery of injured service men, especially if they were making a heart for a special woman in their lives.
You can buy a copy of the Commemorative Catalogue.