Visible Mending, 2013

Linen, digital print and darning

Exhibited at the War Exhibition, Yorkshire Craft Centre

This official needlework pamphlet (pictured below) was provided for British armed forces during WWII and belonged to Joan Aylmer nee Lickman. The growth in numbers of female military personal meant that alternative, more ‘feminine’ pastimes and entertainment were provided. While idyllic embroideries of country cottages were available on home soil (embroidery thread was not rationed), soldiers serving on the front line and prisoners of war also found needlework skills useful.

Joan’s brother Eric also served in the army but was captured at Dunkirk, spending the remainder of the war as a prisoner of war at Stalag VIII B. While he spoke very little of his wartime experiences, Joan remembers that on his return to England, after liberation, his uniform was almost entirely darned.

Darning was commonly used to mend and strengthen clothing during austere wartime shortages and rationing.

This work makes the darning process visible as ‘scars’ on the cloth it acts as a reminder of the different experiences of conflict and especially the ‘invisible’ mental traumas of war.

Photography: Hannah Lamb

Copyright Hannah Lamb 2010 - 2014