Hannah Hurst

“This new body of work is about how women have treasured, honoured and archived their every-day family textiles and hand-made utilitarian objects while keeping them both in shadow and alive through story telling. In some respects women 'conceived' the importance of object and story and this enables younger generations to value the past and continue to develop new feminist art.

I have been unravelling, folding, pleating and pocketing memories. Each piece is like a puzzle fragment waiting to be pieced together so that the whole story, partially or fully, can be made into an artwork that has a presence. This allows the viewer to 'conceive', acknowledge or access memories.

There were few stories told to me during my childhood and I had to listen carefully or observe behaviours, moods and feelings to enable me to glean some sort of meaning from my existence. There were feathers that came from Lithuania with my grandparents in 1890 and the only story that I know about them is that they were sewn into various bits of clothing during their journey to South Africa. I loved them and could feel, even as a child, their importance. The many pieces of textile memorabilia that have been around me in the past and still are in the present, inspiring me to develop this new body of work.

She goes to the back of the shop and returns with an old, broken wooden drawer brim full. The contents of the drawer spill out on to the counter and there are small packages of her life’s interests in fabric, purses and labeled paper bags. In itself each paper bag is beautiful and has a handwritten label saying ‘experimental pattern for lace’, ribbon from k’s dress’, ‘grandma’s lace collars and cuffs’, etc. At long last she again goes to the back of the shop and comes out with a very old and broken suitcase tied together with thick string There isn’t a private place inside the shop to sort through it, but I soon forget where I am.  I pick out a half embroidered tea cloth with a threaded needle attached, and a paper bag containing all the thread she would have used to finish the cloth. There are odd knitting needles, some broken, tins of pins both short and long, and a rusty hand-made pincushion. This installation is to honour an unknown woman’s life, a life in a suitcase. She is nameless and her treasures were left to rust in a broken drawer.In some ways this need to honour is part of my own life – the love of things that tell a tale.