2015 – St Donat’s Arts Centre, vale of Glamorgan: www.stdonats.com/gallery
Members of the textile group, MaP (Makers’ and Practitioners – www.mapgroup.org.uk) have taken the theme of aprons and pinafores – nowadays affectionately called ‘pinnies’ – for this exhibition which encompasses a multitude of techniques such as hand and machine stitching, printing and laser cutting.
The pinnies’ initial appearance of sweet nostalgia, however, belies the underlying themes occupying the makers’ lives as they respond to personal issues such as motherhood, depression or rites of passage. Workwear pinafores sit alongside historically-inspired pieces such as the fantastical Elizabethan-ruffed example and Suffragette dolls whose pinnies sport political slogans.
Several include delicately-worked subversive text which well rewards the time it takes to read.
‘WE’LL MEET AGAIN’
My pinny has been designed to represent the heartache of the many women who had to say farewell to their loved ones during World War II, uncertain of what the future may hold.
It features the words to the song ‘We’ll meet again’, which became very popular during the Second World War. The song resonated with soldiers going off to fight for the freedom of their families and was often sung by the troops as they waved goodbye.
Many soldiers did not survive to see their loved ones again and therefore the song though seen as an optimistic moral booster for the troops, did not specify where or when they would meet again. For many, this would have been seen as Heaven.
The lyrics have been hand embroidered using couch stitch in typical camouflage colours and the shades that represent the uniforms of all the forces. Images, postcards, love letters and military items such as buttons, badges and medal ribbons have been added to the pinny. Often such items were all anyone had to remember their loved ones by and they were therefore cherished and held close.
For me personally I find the song ‘We’ll meet again’ an uplifting reminder of my grandmother. When I was a child taught me to sing all her favourite wartime songs and tell me lots of stories of her wartime experiences, many of them very funny and spirited despite the harshness of the times.