‘Odysseys of Grief’ is a body of embroidered work strongly rooted in emotional memories from the last two years of my life. During this time, I experienced an unexpected series of events which caused great personal upset, grief and loss. These events led to a bout of profound anxiety and depression, which in turn affected nearly every aspect of my life, both professional and personal. My most successful work to date has been strongly rooted in emotional memories; both good and bad. It therefore seemed sensible, apt and almost cathartic to use such current and strong emotional memories from my life as a basis for this new collection.
There are three underlying and intertwining themes from which Odysseys of Grief is woven. The first, is my own personal experience of loss and grief over the last two years and its impact on my life. The second uses the classical works of the Odyssey and the Iliad and the protagonists’ journey as a metaphor for grief and loss. The third draws on a trip where I spent 6 weeks travelling around Europe with my husband; during our wanderings I created a sketch book of the architecture we encountered in the different cities and countries we visited. Undertaken in the midst of this emotional turmoil, visiting and drawing these cities with their fantasy landscapes and architecture became a representation of my life and mind; which in turn had been torn down and destroyed by a profound loss. These sketches and the photographs I took are an important source of inspiration for this project and are represented strongly in the final pieces of the collection.
Depicted as a series of sculptural and heavily embroidered crowns and body adornments, the individual works from this collection represent three different stages of grief. The first crown is a depiction of the initial stages of loss; a time where you feel choked by the desolation, unable to see without looking through the ruins of something precious and broken. The second represents the retreat, as you pull back from everything to regather yourself and try to rebuild. The third crown is about soaring out of the remnants, to build and create something beautiful and new. The three pieces, whilst visually different are united in theme and embroidery techniques; using a mixture of traditional and experimental Goldwork, Tambour beading, Stumpwork and Crewelwork. They are a blend of my personal style of heavily embellished and embroidered pieces in a variety of techniques and metallics which create a visually striking and arresting profile.
Although the themes that underpin this project are challenging and from a point in my life where I was deeply sad, Odysseys of Grief is ultimately a project based around hope that loss and grief (and the associated anxiety and depression) are not insurmountable or permanent. I have aimed to create a body of work which depicts the destruction of loss and the rebuilding of something new and beautiful.