Saturday, 29 December 2012

A Christmas Voice

 I have enjoyed making quite a few pieces of  felt during 2012, amongst them Project Dragonfly, The Dying of the Sun, and The Lost Sheep
In January another piece was made and given,
I have waited until now to tell the story of A Christmas Voice,
or C90 as it was named in my head whilst I worked on it.
A long time ago a friend and I began collaborating. I made a piece of felt for Karen to write about and Karen sent me some of her creative writing to inspire some felt making.
Her prose and poems were fabulous - prompting lots of memories and familiar situations or feelings. I had some ideas at first but nothing that leapt out as encapsulating a whole work or doing her words justice. 
Shortly after Christmas last year I re-read the items she had sent and a spark was ignited!

A Christmas Voice

The day before my birthday was quiet.
The turkey was gone, the chocolates sparse,
Only one cousin was still in our house, and
The tree lights blinked a Christmas reminder.

With nothing much to do now,
We talked of times gone by, a shared past.
I suddenly remembered, in the back of a draw,
As if it was nothing, an old tape.

Thought about after nearly twenty years,
Into the cassette player it went, fitting snugly,
Like Cinderella’s shoe, a little nugget
Of pure gold on a C90.

Pressing play, we all held our breath,
Time suspended, and then a voice, so familiar,
Spoke of a life we had never known.
My Gran spoke again, as she always used to.

Twelve children in a house with two bedrooms,
A murder in Aston,
A schoolteacher with a wicked temper,
And a Dad who never came home from the war.

We looked at each other amazed.
My Gran was in the room with us again,
As she always had been at Christmas,
Talking and talking, making another world come alive.

These days when we visit Gran, she is quieter.
Her voice sounds the same,
Cheery and hers,
But she asks when her mum is coming round,
And we always say, she’ll be round tomorrow…

It started with the green Christmas tree background and the blinking tree lights.  For those of you who are old enough to remember C90 cassettes - there is a homage to the case shape and winding, flimsy tape. The three distinct wool threads represent the colourful varied and exciting tales or yarns of Karen's Gran, which eventually become fused together into more repetitive and quieter phrases.

It was important that these threads began and continued beyond the edge of the felt.

I didn't realise that shortly before I had begun work on this piece Karen's Gran had sadly passed away, it made the making all the more poignant.
Karen's Gran's voice that had been preserved on the nugget of pure gold, has been transferred onto computer so that it  can still be heard -  also family and friends will have many happy memories of her,  hence the motif continuing beyond the edges.
Following suggestions by relatives Karen's poem was printed for people to read and keep after her Gran's funeral.

Hope this has prompted happy memories of exciting tales!


ThatFuzzyFeeling said...

What a wonderful story, Ali - I love the way you have interpreted the poem through your felt and fibres. It makes a beautiful piece of art all the more special, thanks for sharing it with us! Liz xx

Linnhe Mara said...

Aww Ali that is such a poignant story. What a wonderful piece of collaboration. You have shown a great degree of empathy and understanding in your interpretation, fusing the 'yarns' and carrying them on especially appeals.

Looking forward to seeing more in the new year. All the best

Anonymous said...

How lovely to see my cousin's words immortalised further and re-interpreted in your lovely piece a year on from Nan passing away. It's been a reflective time; a year on, so getting to see your creation at this time keeps her memory alive and made me smile. Our Nan particularly liked the colours that you feature in your piece too (green, pinks) and I love the idea that not only the words, but the whole atmosphere of Karen's poem are captured in your piece. Nan was a 'talker' in her day, so the voice/ yarn continuing on past your piece/ the tape cassette is perfect. It's so colourful and bright, how could you not feel happy and uplifted when you look at it. Nan was an up-beat person too, so that is well reflected. She lived a long life and I like the idea that the yarn just keeps going and twisting and turning (just as life does) in a never ending quest, just as I like to think Nan's spirit lives on too. Thank you, Emma :o)

Ali said...

Thank you Liz and Linnhe Mara for your comments - you always find such wonderful words and they do mean a lot to me.
Emma - Thank you so much for taking the time to leave such an appreciative (and appreciated) comment and for giving us more happy memories of your Nan.
Its a pleasure to work with Karen's poignant poems...hopefully you will be able to see C90 up close sometime!