Paper Thin Memories
Tackling a mountain of “papers” after the death of my father in October 2016, I was inspired to “create” memory fragments of the lives of both my mother (who died in 2011) and my father together.
The four art-works arising from this process were included in our Open Studio Exhibition 2019.
A collage based around technical drawing No 7987 dated 1st December 1949, created in the drawing office of London Brick Co (LBC) in Stewartby.
It was in the drawing office of LBC that my Mum and Dad had first met. Drawing No 7987 had been created by Frank (FAW) – a draftsman and trainee engineer – and traced by Pat (PW) – working as a tracer.
What a fitting backdrop, I thought, to a collage using the materials I was gradually uncovering; a kind of paper “portrait” of their lives.
A hand-made wedding album, paying tribute to a now distant memory of 12th April 1952.
Emerging from the many loose black and white photos were the photographs of my Mum and Dad’s wedding on 12th April 1952. These somehow had never found their way into a Wedding album. Not only the photographs, but many other touching items surfaced: gift cards, telegrams, invitations, even the receipts for the car hire, flowers and more.
So I had the idea of making a handmade album to pay tribute to these particular “paper thin memories”. Each part of the album was carefully chosen and created by hand, including processes of cloth dying, cutting, gluing, sewing, and binding.
An installation made from kept postcards, incorporating some of their short, often pithy, transient messages in an accompanying soundscape.
Amongst the mountain of “papers” there was a huge pile of postcards from all corners of the globe; from friends and family, children and grandchildren.
I wondered how these colourful postcards, with their short, often pithy messages could be transformed into a piece of artwork?
The idea of a Suitcase arose; an object that somehow represented the connections that these cards contained, but which are quite transitory in nature. As the construction evolved I had the sense it really encapsulated the idea of “paper thin memories”; these words therefore became a central motif. But the words alone were not enough, so they gradually transformed into butterflies departing from the case on their own journeys to places yet unknown.
Experimenting with sound for the first time, I created an accompanying soundscape made up of field recordings and the spoken word.
Fragile paper and printed words, using five texts that have deep significance, spoken at the memorials of Pat (1928-2011) and Frank (1930-2016) Wiggle. Distilling the “alchemical” transformatory nature of life.
In this final piece I wanted to go beyond using “kept or found” materials, taking the transformatory nature of memory fragments to a deeper level.
My focus now turned to representing the past, whilst also finding a way of incorporating the future.
The fragility of tissue paper, combined with the resonant nature of words spoken at memorials rapidly found an “alchemical” motif, using the colour combinations of white, black, red (magenta) and gold; a “distillation”, perhaps, of the transformatory nature of life?
The four pieces each represent memory fragments, which, in their creation, have accompanied a profound sense of grieving, as (and of itself) a transformatory process.