“The Psalms in Stitches” by Vivienne Rowett.
|"Daisies are our silver", by Viv, with my favourite skirt.|
|English, 18th C, by unknown seamstress|
Some of the psalms make uncomfortable reading in places; psalm 137 is such an example. I was very conscious of producing an item with a very domestic feel to it, and wondered how the psalm's partly horrific content would 'sit' in my chosen format. As the work progressed, I found myself choosing soft fabrics for this one, as though I were trying to soothe the babies wished to be murdered, and the adult perpetrators of all sides in crimes of war, who (it seems to me) are often suffering from ancient inherited hurts as well as more recently-minted anger. I felt to be trying to contain the issue of violence in some manageable form, perhaps comparable with singing a psalm in an ordered Anglican evensong. I do not do this to try to minimise the enormity of such atrocities, knowing that people the world over live with daily violence; somehow people have to find strength to carry on, and sometimes strength can be drawn from ordinary things like being handed a cup of tea, which embodies the well of human caring that is ever-available. Cloths that delight for whatever reason can (like words and tea) call to mind and re-activate the care of friends and relatives long-dead. How many prayers have been and are still contained in knitted blankets, hats for soldiers, baby clothes, patchwork quilts etc down the centuries!
I am not an artist, but a professional student of the Bible, of the Old Testament in particular, who likes making things; so I think of myself as an exegetical seamstress or textile exegete. This year's work has been a revelling in my comfort zone! You can contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please try not to touch the exhibits; I know how tempting they are, as I love the feel of cloth too, and I'm pleased with the many textures I have been able to produce here, which are me saying something about the psalmic, verbal equivalent; but even clean hands exude invisible acids, so please handle very sparingly with newly-washed hands if you really can't resist. I hope to provide some accompanying samples with the intention that you will handle them.