Text:ure of History

To my child mind, the Second World War was very definitely ‘in the olden days’ – the past – gone – history. It was unequivocally and quite physically, behind me… by a long way. I was not connected to it. In fact, it ended only nine years before I was born. As an adult, the passing of nine years goes by in a flash and I consider the last decade to be ‘current’. (I think perhaps, that a definition of history could be an era of time not personally lived through.) If history is a deep ocean stretching fathoms below us into the inky darkness, then young minds are definitely floating in the free air above… not attached in any way. And maybe only when we reach a certain age do we begin to acknowledge that our lives could be part of history; that actually at some point the accumulation of these years of experience and doing will weigh heavy enough to sink down into the vast depths of time. That the age we live in… who we are… what we have done… will be seen in the context of the whole continuum of time: the distant past, the recent past and the future past (that which will become past). I have been thinking about these things a lot recently…. An invitation to take part in an exciting international project ‘Transition and Influence’ which “investigates the links between contemporary textile practice, strong traditional practice and overlapping global influences” has asked the artists involved to write about these issues from a personal perspective. Our words will be published in a book and on the project website. www.transitionandinfluence.com Above: Work in progress. My mother taught me to sew. I used to make all my own clothes. As part of my ongoing battle for organisation, I decided to chuck out my old paper dressmaking patterns from the sixties and seventies. No more chain belts and psychedelic kipper ties for me! Yet, hand hovering above the bin, I couldn’t do it. How emotionally connected I felt to this stuff totally took me aback. The sepia, fine tissues of Butterick, Simplicity and Vogue 2739 with their insistent instructions to ‘Place on straight grain of fabric’, ‘Lengthen or shorten here’ and ‘Coupez deux’ find their text shredded, twisted and woven into a new context, an alternative language.