Embroidery mediates experiences, insights, memories, and fears. It frequently illustrates keepsakes from travels, such as a hand-stitched tablecloth from a Grand Tour, machine-embroidered handkerchiefs proffered at gift shops, or blackwork sea tales created by scrimshanders.
My embroidery documents imagined places and people. The works record secluded and verdant grottos, stagnant pools and drainage ditches, or ominous islands shaped like skulls. The people are large, musclebound, and hairy: men who are hiding something behind their excesses.
I can imagine a sailor from the 19th century stitching this linen. The sailor is preoccupied, not surprisingly, with water and death. He is all too aware of the messiness and fragility of life because he is vulnerable to the enormous power of the sea, disease, and the malevolence of others. He deals with his anxieties by slowly and painstakingly rendering them, the repetition of stitches like a chant that quiets the voices of doubt.