Collecting Loss: Weaving Threads of Memory celebrates life and death through clothing
I remember when my grandfather was in the hospital. In the final weeks leading up to his death, my grandmother taught herself how to knit. She had never knit before and yet, during the long days spent in the intensive care unit, she had managed to create a scarf for everyone in my family. At nine years old, I did not understand. “Why couldn’t she just read a book?” I would ask. “She is grieving,” my mother would answer.
Many years later, I understood. The practice of weaving offers the mind rest and focus, it is at once creative and emotional. Collecting Loss: Weaving Threads of Memory demonstrates this need to create something that will hold together during times of loss. On display at Yellow Fish Art Gallery in the Plateau, the exhibition is a public art memorial that celebrates life and death through clothing.
The space feels very much like a memorial; a place for grieving and remembering. Clothes hang from the ceiling, holding shape as though they were recently worn and leaving the viewer with a feeling of emptiness. Framed poems are on display at the foot of each garment, and lit candles are scattered throughout the room. It is at once eerie and wholesome; while the items represent loss, many people are gathered to celebrate life.
The items, created of donated clothing once belonging to loved ones, were cut up and sewn together. Embroidered and patchworked, the garments offer individuals and community a place to mourn and remember together, and demonstrate the possibility of death as something that “weaves” people together. From teddy bears, to child-size dresses, to pants, each item is unique and expresses different experiences and memories.
At the far end of the room, Christy Thompson’s work Shroud hangs from the ceiling. An homage to the artist’s brother, Kelly, following his death, the piece is five metres long and composed of his knitted garments. The work, which took Thompson over three months to complete, demonstrates the creative process that helped the artist develop an understanding of their relationship and his loss.
Thompson’s goal was to create a dialogue surrounding grief and loss, while simultaneously exploring alternative ways of dealing with loss and mourning.
Collected, gathered, disassembled and reassembled, the creation of the works follow a similar pattern to the ways in which one’s life is changed when experiencing loss. However, being given the space to share memories and stories, and to fill it with items that have been repaired, offers individuals a place to remember and honour their loved ones, both individually and collectively.
Collecting Loss: Weaving Threads of Memory demonstrates the possibility of creating meaning and bringing people together to create a community of tightly woven individuals.
Collecting Loss: Weaving Threads of Memory is on display at Yellow Fish Art Gallery, at 3623 St-Laurent Blvd., until Oct. 27. Additional information and open hours can be found at https://www.yellowfishart.com/.