My initial trigger for this project was the word missing. I was going to focus on missing people who leave their families unexpectedly, either by choice or by a series of random events which lead to their disappearance. However, I decided to start my research by looking through old photo albums (some photos below) and look at in detail the people 'missing' in my family, who I did not meet but were still integral to my family and obviously had a huge influence on my parents and therefore this filtered through to me. I also find it fascinating how little a lot of us know about our families, almost assuming we have no need to know it. The photos were beautiful in themselves and I was really drawn to them. Therefore, I have decided to focus my project on the missing people in my family and create a final outcome based around the idea of making their absence a presence. I also see my final outcome as a product of a learning exercise about family origins etc.
My drawings as a whole will be created from photo source material and luckily I have a huge range to choose from. My experiments so far with image have been fairly crude, simply trying to get a good grasp of the figures, however I will soon move onto developing the images more. I have done some initial work on the sewing machine with some hand stitched pattern added later. Though I like the image I may stick with all hand done embroidery, though it will be time consuming, I think it will be more effective or I will try a combination of the two techniques as a labour saving device.
"Quilts are repositories of memory"
I recently went to the V and A to see the Quilting exhibition which I was really impressed by. The sheer time and discipline which must have gone into making them (especially the earlier quilts) was really clear. I was also really aware that the materials were recycled, with quilts being made up of a once treasured dress or a child's pyjames
giving the quilts a great history and highlighting their use as memory collectors. This is really relevant to my project and although I could create nothing in comparison to these quilts in the exhibition in terms of scale, it was a good source of inspiration. I was particularly interested by Natasha Kerr's work who was using her quilt to convey a little of her heritage ...
Another exhibition very relevant to my project was 'American Servicemen and Women' by Emily Prince at the Saatchi Gallery. The portraits of 5,158 American soldiers fill a room at the Gallery – all of them different and all of them dead. They are meticulously drawn in tribute to each American serviceman and woman killed in Iraq or Afghanistan since 2004 – the year President George W. Bush was re-elected. Frustrated by the direction America was headed in, artist Emily Prince began channelling her energy into creating this memorial project. The pencilled portraits appear on small cards corresponding to skin colour, forming a study of the racial demographics for soldiers sent to war. Since the Saatchi installation was finalised, there have been 169 more American soldiers killed. Prince, who has returned to her home in San Francisco, has continued to add to her portraits and she says the project won't be complete until the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq stop for good. I found the work very poignant and also very impressive in terms of scale and her commitment to the project.