Reflection & Reviews

Pieces of my Life Collection



This morning I stood in the gallery with the sun casting shadows over the first pieces of work in my collection, I reflect that my work has finally been removed from the shadows and is now in full light for all to see.

As we draw near to the end of the month I reflect over my February achievements.  I have successfully exhibited my work for the first time and in a solo exhibition where the pieces of work in the collection ‘Pieces of my Life’ were extremely personal and somewhat difficult to hang on a wall for all to see. I have delivered three workshops at the Forge and each one has been productive, creative and inspiring where  I have met many interesting and enthusiastic learners.
Over the last few weeks I now realise that this has been an extremely positive experience thanks to the feedback and comments I have received, especially from  individuals who could relate to my work through their own chronic illnesses, grief or other circumstances.  This makes me realise that I would like to share my work to a wider audience.
I would like to share some feedback that I received from a gentleman yesterday:


I have to declare that sewing/needlecraft/needlework, call it what you will, was never an interest. It was always a good skill to have because it meant that one’s socks would last twice as long if they were darned. I assume that darning is sewing by another name and when I say it was a good skill to have it was assumed that it was a female skill, the men merely creating the holes in the socks that needed to be darned. Times have changed and with them our views and values, although there will, no doubt, be a few who cling to those outdated concepts.

Those with any doubts as to the creative worth of textiles need to read about and view the exhibition ‘Pieces of my Life’ by Kate Slaughter. Faced with a chronic illness which was life changing in that she could no longer follow her vocation in teaching, brought her to a state of despair. But rather than let her life ‘spiral out of control’ she used her considerable skills as a textile artist to catalogue her fight for recovery.

For each of the challenges she faced, Kate used textiles to interpret how she felt by creating a piece of work illustrating that challenge. There are eight pieces:

  • Hanging by a thread
  • Are you all right
  • Thoughts
  • My life is spiralling out of control
  • Piecing my life together
  • Time
  • Restoration
  • Branches

At the beginning of this piece I stated my position as a Luddite in the world textile design but I take it all back. The thought and creative energy which has gone in to each piece is self evident and as works of art relaying a challenge they can stand alone. However Kate’s well written notes put the piece in the context of her illness and also provide technical information as regards the making of the art work.

It really is the imaginative use of the textiles to tell Kate’s story which make this exhibition so stunning. Also the fact that by producing this she is coming to terms and managing her illness. Much of the work is in a sepia tone but colour is gradually introduced as if to illustrate that through this project Kate is winning her battle.

So, a favourite piece? I thought the branches were actually made of wood, the dandelion clock was very effective but I could go on and mention each one ; they are each relevant to the story.

The project works on two levels. Yes get to see the exhibition to realise the effectiveness of the pieces. But I also think that the notes and photographs could be published in book form. I know the photographs would be second best but the story deserves to reach a wider audience.

Written by

PJC (Retired Headteacher)

As the month closes to an end and I prepare to dismantle my exhibition on Wednesday I contemplate, where will I take my collection next to share it with others who can relate to the messages within?……

I would like to thank everyone who has visited Allendale Forge in February and if you would like to see it there are still a couple of days left.

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