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Identity, loss and childhood memories

Continuing to look at the work of members who are pursuing further education in the arts, this week we feature Pauline Kiernan. Pauline’s work is always deeply personal and drawn from life experience:

“I have been a member of element15 since 2018 and I am also a student in Crawford College of Art & Design, Cork. In September I am due to go into 4th year, my final year, to complete a BA (Honours) in Contemporary Applied Arts. I work primarily in textiles and print.”

“For this body of work, I wanted to explore identity, loss, and childhood memories. I drew inspiration from these memories, family photographs, old letters and my mother’s stories. Going through my late mother’s belongings of keepsakes and letters, largely relating to my late brother’s illness and subsequently death which had a profound effect on me growing up as a young child in the 1980’s.” 

“I can relate to the contemporary artist Jennifer Loeber when she states: “I found myself deeply overwhelmed by the need to keep even the most mundane of my mom’s belongings when she died suddenly”. Like Loeber I want to transform these objects into tangible evidence of my brother’s existence whilst acknowledging my mother’s struggle in losing her child.”

“The last photograph taken of my brother was in his communion suit and the only piece of that outfit that has survived was the ruffle he wore buttoned to his shirt – very fashionable in the 70’s. Keeping this in mind I decided to make several collars with ruffle pieces using old worn shirts. While experimenting with transferring images onto embellished, distressed worn fabrics with different mediums, I decided to machine embroider and hand stitch these images directly to the distressed fabric, some more successful than others”.

“In the final stages of exploration, I started to play around with the collar ruffle pieces and took detail photographs, it was like a light bulb moment! I was so excited by these images it was as if they had a life of their own! Using Wen Redmond’s digital Fiber Art as a resource I manipulated these images, layering and fusing them with collage’s I made from my mother’s keepsakes and photographs”.

“These new images explore memory and personal identity further, helping to convey a sense of loss and confusion, layering fragments of daily life, memories and stories that kept him very much alive alongside the heart-breaking loss”.

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