Some thoughts on historic Pin Cushion Hearts

Victorian pin heart cushionsI’ve recently returned from a Pin Cushion Heart making course at Heartspace Studios in Bristol, after seeing some of these objects dating back to the Victorian era for the first time this year. Two of which were in Tate Britain’s exhibition on Folk Art, which I reviewed for Trebuchet Magazine.

I find pin cushion hearts both attractive with their heavily beaded patterning and slightly grotesque, mainly because they have often ‘weathered’ over time and become stained or dirty. Making one myself seemed a good way to understand the significance and possible roles of these double-edged objects, and so to appreciate them more.

Recreated solider's pin heartThe cushions are stuffed with either sawdust or sand, which, if not machine-made, involves quite a lot of force and patience. I added lavender to my sawdust, which could be smelt every time I pushed a pin into the cushion during the decorating stage. It takes a lot of sawdust to make the cushion firm and full, and because it compacts, it takes a lot more than you think you need. The sawdust is stuffed through a long slit down the centre front of the heart. When the heart is sufficiently sturdy and can withstand the pressure of pins (a floppy cushion will result in the pins falling out), it can be sewn up with diagonal stitches that crosshatch each other. This ends up looking like a harrowing scar down the heart’s middle. So although the hearts feel strong, there is a sense of fragility and even violence at their centre.  Continue reading

Josephine Pryde exhibition at the Arnolfini

Arnolfini gallery guideI am part of the Young Arnolfini, an arts collective for young people in Bristol that works closely with the Arnolfini gallery. In response to the current exhibition at this institution, I decided to write a ‘reading list’ to collect together the literature it made me think about or that could be set in dialogue with it. This turned into more of a reflection piece. The section on hands is published in the Arnolfini gallery guide, and I have turned the other two parts into audio guides in collaboration with the rest of the Young Arnolfini group.


Selected reading list for Josephine Pryde’s exhibition, ‘These are just things I say, they are not my opinions’

Photography and Technology

The Image Culture in which we live has been foreseen by many writers, including Guy Debord with his 1967 book, The Society of The Spectacle. Moholy Nagy also predicted the power of images over the whole of society in his essay and theory, The New Vision, 1989. He states, “The illiterate of the future will be the person ignorant of the use of the camera as well as the pen”.  Continue reading

Palestine: What Hope Peace?

This article is published in Trebuchet Magazine.

On the 14th of November, Bristol was given the opportunity to watch the first viewing of the film, “Palestine: What Hope Peace”, by activist and freelance journalist Kerry-Anne Mendoza. Bristol was an appropriate city in which to introduce her film not only because it is her home, but also because of the variety of ways that it has expressed its concerns for Palestine, including active societies at the university, a two-week occupation outside the BBC buildings back in July along with almost daily demonstrations in the city’s centre, and in particular the establishment of an innovative Palestinian Museum (where Mendoza’s film was shown).

Mendoza has been travelling to Palestine and Israel since 2002, interviewing locals and documenting the conflict and its effects, which she feels is never accurately revealed by the mainstream media. Her latest film, lasting an hour and a half, documents the catastrophes that took place in July and August of this year, which was catalysed by the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli men aged sixteen to nineteen.  Continue reading