I never met my maternal grandmother, and family history has not been stitched well enough for me to understand what kind of person she was, until today.
Sorting through some of her keepsakes with an older relative, I found a piece of lace knotting, a small irregular sampler in a larger collection of much more accurate work.
Nobody ever saw its pattern before, but I saw it, and I show it here : the Cross of St George of England on a light background juxtaposed with a Swastika on a dark background.
It is a statement from the heart. A demonstration of the overshadowing, constant, brooding threat of its time – the War with Germany.
If reflects the war being waged in the body and soul of the person who laced it – as she neared the end of her life, losing her fight against tuberculosis.
TB was a common killer of the era; a disease which she probably contracted from her role as dairymaid on the large estate of the banking family that owned most of the land around her small village.
She knit lace because she was confined with her sickness at home and had no energy to do anything else. She couldn’t even look after her two small children. She was reduced to passing the time in any way she could from her bed and chair.
My grandmother left me a message – about how art should always portray the concerns of the world – and about how much she cared about the struggle between clarity and confusion, between liberty and oppression.
The battle of our age is against overwhelming environmental chaos. It is ongoing, grinding, and will damage everything we hold dear unless we confront it and find answers, and seek the right changes.
It is up to us to carry the flame, bear the message, tell the truth, communicate the evidence and the risks, hold on to a stable Climate at all costs, and forge a right governance for the use of Carbon Energy.
And we need to do this with every kind of cultural expression.
I now know so much more about where I come from. Unexpectedly learning something of the passionate nature of my grandmother’s desire, for good to come to the world, has amazed me. It shows me her bravery, and her belief.
To me, the message hidden in this little patch of lace seems to explain a lot about where my personal energy comes from, and it encourages me to keep on keeping on.