Home is where the art is – a guest post

Today we hand over to the lovely Aunty Mary (you know the one of gateaux / gateau fame) for a guest post all about a very special project that after reading about Becksie is very keen to get involved in. Mary it’s over to you…………..

Mary and Poppins

Mary and Poppins

‘There was a package waiting for me on the mat when I got home from work today. I’ve always been one of those people that loved receiving post, but this was something extra special that I had been waiting for. Last week sometime, while I was idly browsing on the internet, I stumbled across something called ‘The Napkin Project’. It is led by an artist who had a residency at a care home and became interested in the way people with dementia interact with tactile objects such as napkins. The idea is that lots of people will embroider individual napkins which will be presented to the residents of the home for them to keep. The theme of the project is ‘Home’ and those taking part in embroidering a piece are also asked to fill in a little tag about what ‘home’ means to them, which will be returned along with the napkin to the artist.

Mary 1As an ex-art student and someone who works with people with dementia, this was an idea that particularly appealed to me. The whole concept has really got me thinking, and as I sit with the blank canvas napkin in front of me, I try to decipher what ‘home’ means to me personally. Several years ago, after I had left art school and started my first real job, a set of circumstances dictated that I left Edinburgh where I had studied and returned to my home town of Birmingham. I felt lost. For six months I slept on a mattress on my sister’s floor and wandered around in a dressing gown feeling sorry for myself. At that point I made a decision; that I was going to own a house with an upstairs and a downstairs by the time I was 30. I didn’t know how I would do it, I didn’t have any money and I didn’t have someone to help me do it… I just knew I was going to make it happen. I bought my little house when I was 28 years old and it remains my home to this day. My friends Becksie and Ian came round for my first birthday in the house a year later, I made a cake.

A fine cake indeed - Team Pugh can confirm it was delicious and we were honored to share the first birthday with Mary

A fine cake indeed – Team Pugh can confirm it was delicious and we were honored to share the first birthday with Mary

That’s the thing about home. It’s not just bricks and mortar, wallpaper paste and gloss paint… it’s a feeling. It’s the privacy of your own bathroom, the comfort of your own bed, the taste of a cuppa in your favourite mug and the smell of your own fresh laundry drying on the rack. It doesn’t even really matter where home is, but you nest and you make it your own. I remember the unsettling feeling when my parents moved out of the house I grew up in and relocated to the country. It’s a funny thing, but when I visit them in their new cottage, there it is… home.

mary 2

The devastating thing about dementia is that over time it robs us of our memories, our connections and our abilities. It can destroy our sense of self from the inside out. Who am I if I don’t remember your face or where I went to school or the first time we met? But not only that, dementia takes away our control so that sometimes we have to give up the most fundamental of things… our home. Maybe our families can’t manage or we are living on our own and we need too much help. I wonder, how my sense of home differs to that of a person living in a care home and I consider if there’s a way to reconcile the two. But, there’s a chance I might be over-thinking things, as usual.

I look at my napkin again and wonder what to embroider on it. It could be a pattern or a picture, it could have a deep meaning or be something fun. At art school we were always warned against being too precious, because if you think about it too much, you’ll never start. I decide to think of it as if I was making something for a friend, instead of a piece of art, I’ll just do my best. As I look around the living room I realise that all my plans, my hopes and dreams are imbedded within these walls. In the corner there is a pile of dressing making patterns and fabric, a shelf of fresh books waiting to be read. This is my home and this is where I shut the door to dampen out the day and build for the future.

So what will I embroider? I don’t know yet, but I will start any minute… just as soon as I’ve had a hot tea from my favourite cup…’

Thank you Mary – what a fantastic project. Do head over and like them on facebook and follow them on twitter  – we have……


17 thoughts on “Home is where the art is – a guest post

  1. Fantastic guest blog Mary…I would love to see what you end up doing. I can’t embroider (can’t might be the wong word, I have never done it) but love the look of it. 🙂 x

  2. Lovely post. Having moved around a lot as a kid, my home was in my books and my family. My children have 2 homes, one with me and one with their dad. I have just asked them what home means to them. Their answers are Where your family are, and where you feel most happy…..
    My home is where my children are, my cat, my books and my favourite mug 🙂

  3. Wow what a great idea. Have just e-mailed off for napkin. Can’t wait to start. Busy planning what to embroider. Also thinking about what ‘home’ means to me.

  4. What a brilliant post Mary. We lost my Father In Law two years ago who suffered with alzheimers adn it was undescribably hard to watch him decline. His home of 50+ years became unfamiliar to him and he kept wanting to return to his childhood home, so I can cartainly relate to this post (and project).
    I cant embroider for toffee, but am going to send off for a napkin anyway as this project has struck a chord.
    My home is currently in the UK with my husband, but I agree that its not necessarily bricks and mortar that make a home, in my case its the place we are together. Im hoping we can return to my home-country soon and can make another ‘home’ there.
    Best Wishes.

  5. Thank you all for your lovely comments and good luck if you get a napkin too! I’m still undecided… 🙂

  6. Thanks for highlighting this lovely project. As another family with dementia sufferers, we are hoping to resurrect our sewing skills 🙂

  7. First comment on this wonderful blog of yours and firstly I want to say a resounding THANK YOU. Thank you not only for this inspiring blog but for also giving the final push to try and discover who I am, rather than who ‘society’ wants me to be. I have so much that I want to try and learn, to do for my family and myself, and for those around me. Yet because it doesn’t come under the title of ‘work’ or ‘normal everyday tasks’ I have beat myself up for years and tried to be something I am not. Just reading how you have all gone against the grain has inspired me to stand up and say ‘No more!’ I continually say as long as my children and husband are happy I’m happy, well the reverse is true too and its about time I discovered this.

    Secondly thank you for sharing an inspirational and worthy cause Mary (and Becksie et al.) Embroidery is one of the many skills I would love to learn and hope with my new found ‘freedom’ I will finally find a way to.

    • What a lovely comment and…… extremely helpful to us as we think about our net step in life 🙂

      Thank you for reading and commenting we appreciate it 🙂

  8. Pingback: Convenience (a guest post by Mary) | A year without supermarkets

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