Canada Council for the Arts

Linen Memorial :
Emborideres' Momentoes



CENTRE FOR IMAGE, PERFORMANCE AND TEXT, University of Wollongong 2002
CORRYMEELA 2007 and 2008

Lycia's Land Art (materials including Irish Bog Oak) &
The Waterworks, Belfast installation

Embroiderers' Momentoes

This page was started Mother´s Day, May 10th 2009 and, eventually, I hope it will represent all the Embroiderers´ histories and handiwork.

For many of these contributors, there is a ´feeling´ of a maternal heritage link (connections with the ‘mother country’: Ireland/Northern Ireland and one’s own mother).

See some of the other creations by the Embroiderers of The Irish Linen Memorial below:

Embroidery by Kim Bear

Embroidery by Kim Bear, a practitioner of Nuido, The Way of Embroidery, a Japanese technique that goes back more than one thousand years. May 13 2009. In correspondence to the artist, by post and telephone, upon sending the handkerchiefs.

"It was a very interesting process. At first the names were just individual shapes -- letters made up of sticks and curves. The first hanky I did passed by in a blur of worrying about 5 chains on a downstroke and whether the knots in the back were okay (called 'lingerie' knots I learned from a tailor in 1996 when I had my made-to-measure women's clothing business).

The second hanky contained two women's names. That was when the significance set in for me. And how many people I knew that had those Christian or surnames. And how important it is to remember those who've gone before and the manner in which they lived and died."

Embroidery by Marie Boni


Another creation by Embroiderer Maria Boni, BFA. Lives in Canada.

Maria completed many of the Linen Memorial Hankies.

Poem composed by Rosemary Minnich, June 30 2011, Quebec, Canada.

Forty years of conflict
And it still goes on
Blessed are the peacemakers
In God's sight
We are one.

Forty years long was I
Grieved with that Generation
He said in despair
But we can change things
If only we dare.

A handkerchief wipes away
Many a tear
Four hundred times ten
Four thousand we hear

Those fallen are remembered
In memorial cloth
In linen and stitches
As we go forth.

"The Troubles" 1966-2007

Irish Linen Memorial

Embroider the past but simply
Link those ordinary names –
Muriel, Peter, Monica-
All dead by crusted enmities
Pretended relevant to the now
But why?

Embroider each link for memory
Crawl those dead, ordinary names-
James, Michael, Ida,
Across the linen-wove
Hankies for tears
Bandages for wounds
Quality text
To raise the hackles

Lest we forget
Chain-stitch the shadow presence

Julia Bovard
May 2009

Embroidered table placemat
Embroidered table placemat with Drawnwork edge on linen the front and back are almost identical, please see roll-over with your mouse). A compulsory school project in sewing class in the 1950s, Sydney, Australia, the bird is a Northern Hemisphere Robin Red-Breast on an Acorn Tree.
Julia Bovard, age 12
Handkerchief #268
Embroidered Handkerchief
Quilt by Nerida Benson
Quilt Designer
Nerida (nee Richmond) Benson, Leura, NSW

Your exhibit brought back family memories both Irish & textile.. My great grandfather Paul Benson, a 14 year old lad from County Cork was deported to Botany Bay in 1830 for the theft of an Irish linen handerchief. He served 7 years after which he was given an allottment at Ryde NSW where he flourished as a farmer-orchardist, exemplary citizen and church-goer. And so began my Australia fanily history....

Thanks for the memories,

eMemorial Guest Book, Wed Jun 21, 2006 12:02am

Additional art genre:
cake decorating, needlework, beading

{Wedding cake, May 2009}

Glenys (nee Richmond) Ferguson, Leura, NSW

Cake decorated by Glen Ferguson
Cake decorated by Glen Ferguson

© Lizz Murphy

Born in Belfast, N.Ireland (1950) lives in Binalong, rural New South Wales, AUS.
She was awarded the 1998 ACT Creative Arts Fellowship for Literature.
Lizz Murphy's nine books include the poetry collections Stop Your Cryin (Island), Two Lips Went Shopping (Spinifex), and the anthology Wee Girls: Women Writing from an Irish Perspective (Spinifex).

Black Taxi

It takes a few days for my own
accent to be
everyday again for the internal
compass to
not swivel the head except when
there is a
variation of dialect a new end of
the city or
a sharp twist in a stone walled
country road

Or a Swedish backpacker asking
in the Sinn Féin bookshop Can I
walk she
says Oh yes you can but a black
taxi tour
will tell you everything you want
to know
And you know she is really
asking is it safe

Artist Statement

Contemporary artists, like myself, make Art which is considered hybrid and has a fluid connection between the genre of both site sculpture / installation art / public art, as well as the intimacy of domestic needlework.

I am thankful for the Volunteer needleworkers, without whom this memorial would never have been possible. The sewing is very time consuming. It was started in 2004 and we hope to finish in 2010.

Some of the Embroiderers consider sewing a hobby; others consider embroidery in ‘chain stitch’ simply 'practical / utilitarian' sewing; many who have become interested in this project are also artists themselves; yet, most women do not have a professional or public outlet for their talents and earn their living outside of the arts. Also, the domestic setting was, and still is, a more common ´creative space´ for women who were/are also cooks, bakers/cake decorators, mothers, home-makers, carers (and/ or, in the past, they were seamstresses).

One of my early concepts for the memorial that my maternal grandmother used to send me handkerchiefs from Belfast to Vancouver, Canada. Also, my paternal grandmother was an expert needleworker, good at ´drawnwork´.

Research illustrates the links between postcolonial political literature – stories, cultural history and the craft of hand-done needlework.

Over the past decade of the making of this Irish Linen Memorial, I have found that the time-consuming nature of sewing, ironing, mending /cleaning /archiving linen is increasingly and rapidly becoming a ´thing of the past´…

© 2001 - 2024 Lycia Trouton