Trousseau is a collection of antique linens, stitch and a census-style document in a vintage laundry box, and it is a family portrait of sorts that follows my attempt to track down my long lost family.
My mother died when I was young and, with her, any connection to her side of the family – I am embarrassed to say I didn’t even know my grandmother’s name.
I had no photos, no documents, no mementoes.
My search revealed sad tales of recurring loss, hardship and broken connections. Most of my women ancestors – all laundresses, char women and maids – were dead, widowed or institutionalised while still in their 30s.
These were strong, resilient women and I have told their stories through hand stitching – women’s work, manual labour.
It was a privilege to sit and spend time with them as I stitched and I hope I have inherited some of their strength and character.
Stain attempts to communicate with my lost grandmother through shadow puppetry and childish rhyme. I have used domestic substances to create these pieces including bleach, tea, fire grate polish and iron burn – they are volatile and unknown quantities which are liable to fade.
These are challenging subjects to tackle but this is my family, my story and all these works were made with love.
‘Unsettling, superbly-crafted work that is intensely personal, at the same time unearthing an atmospheric sense of “otherness” that will resonate with many people.’ Sadie Lee, Artist