‘The healing power of stitch’ is a concept widely acknowledged within our community as one generally held to be of great importance. I’m sure many of us can relate to the theraputic, calming qualities stitch imbibes into our frequently chaotic lives: a sense of creativity, of connection, of mindfulness and meaning. It’s also a phrase that, since the conception and creation of my ‘kintsugi vase’ series, I’ve heard referred to at length. With my reassembled shattered pieces playing their small symbolic role as visual methaphors for healing and making whole, the notion of ‘fixing with stitch’ – explored both literally and metaphorically within my practice – is something of great personal importance to me.
How ironic the timing, then – just as my ‘kintsugi’ body of work was on display in a Belgian gallery for Brussels Design Week – when a whole new significance and personal perception of ‘the healing power of stitch’ was to hit me. Quite literally. Waiting to pull out at a roundabout, a thirteen ton truck ploughed straight into the back of my car.
Hyperbolic language and personal drama notwithstanding, the incident was a tremendous shock. I was lucky: I managed to wrench my door open and walk out, seemingly unhurt. The car, or what was left of it, was less fortunate. And then, a few hours later, reality seemed to catch up with me. As an embroiderer, I always seem to think first of injury to my eyesight being the main paranoia: you can imagine my anxiety, therefore, when I found I couldn’t move my neck or even turn my head. Words blurred. 24hrs later, I couldn’t read. Cue concussion, whiplash and nerve damage from the force of the impact.
I spent the next fortnight blissfully unaware of most things in a soft, opiated confusion of bright colours and medicated meaningless. I thought of the pieces of my vases held together with their precious gold seams, and willing the inflamed vertebrae of my neck to nestle as comfortably and coherently alongside each other again.
As I write this, I am due to finish physio next week and am feeling infinitely better than a few months ago. I definitely want to make a kintsugi piece inspired by this experience – had I had the gift of afterthought when the car was towed, I’d have collected up the bits of the tailgate, wrapped them in fabric and pieced them together as some strangely tactile homage to the restorative power of stitch, and of the soft, overwhelmingly tactile sensation my cocktail of medication imparted to me.
Ironically, the one vase in the car I’d bought to take back to the studio survived intact….