The link between a person and a garment can never be planned for, but has lasting impact when a garment becomes a life-long companion. It reveals the potential for change in each individual and often marks that in the associations with a piece, for single, small actions can have big effects.
“This shawl was embroidered in the 1930s by my grandmother. She was part of the first generation of women who really became trained to have a career in embroidery and textiles, rather than just having it as a pastime. As her final piece for her City & Guilds she made a shawl, embroidered in all four corners with a floral design. It was chosen to go in an exhibition in London’s Victoria and Albert Museum and Queen Mary, who visited the exhibition, wanted to buy it. But because of the work that had gone into it, my grandmother declined the Queen’s offer. After the exhibition was over, the shawl was sent back but got stolen en route and she never got it back. She was so upset that she set to and made another one, but this time just embroidered one corner because it’s such an enormous amount of work. When I was ten it was passed onto me because I was the only person in the family who liked sewing. It changed my life, inspired my career, all because of this.”
Bollington, Cheshire - July 2009
Photograph by Fiona Bailey