I bought a white babygro for this sample that becomes part of the mini series ‘Not all Wounds are Visible’
I wanted to combine techniques learnt so far and add to these the back-drawing of exercise 3.
I had a big lump in my throat when I approached this work. I knew the wound I was going to make on this pristine and baby-pure basic item might bring some stuff up for me. I bought the babygro at a second-hand shop. I don’t know its story except it has a tiny pink stain at the centre of the neckline. I don’t know whether it is necessary for any purpose to share what my intention was – except that it was important that I acknowledged the wounding and gave myself a means of expressing it and thereby grieving a multitude of losses symbolised by the garment as well as actual losses.
I did weep.
But looking at the piece now, the wound is too low. It should be higher – centred around the belly button where the umbilical cord would have been.
I worried this piece was too graphic. But I kept on with the layers: printing the babygro, then printing bandage and dictionary page, then assembling, then heat-gunning a hole, adding more, then using the technique I learnt at the Cas Holmes course – loading the bobbin with embroidery thread. In order to free machine on the growing layers I placed a page of dictionary, embroidered over this and then tore it away.
I had many possible titles but settled once I found a Danish proverb that explained everything. With three babies I could never leave carrying them all in my arms, on my own, quicker than him, down 3 flights of stairs down from my then top floor flat to escape. He who dealt the wounds, would sleep across the front door, or across the door of the girls’ room or always made sure he had one of them in his arms. This proverb said it all and gives the piece its title.
‘Whoever takes the child by the hand takes the mother by her heart.’
This is a personal piece, but sadly it is not unique. I hope one day it can speak to others of the truth behind these silent invisible wounds that many bear and help someone else to heal too. If nothing else I hope it shouts out for those who are suffering silently.