Maureen M.

First Cloth memory

I must have been 6, first year at school, with dead straight, thick hair that just falls from the crown – perfect for “pudding bowl cuts”.  Was it me, or Mum who wanted the curls?  I don’t know, I guess it must have been both for all the hours that went into wrapping rags into my hair, wound and pinned, each small section of hair at a time.  Left there to dry, tight on the scalp.  And all for what?  The lovely curls fell out within an hour!  I remember it more as a story told, I think, but there is a vague picture memory too.  And this remembering reminded me of almost 20 years of having very tight perms done, using horrid chemicals, but my hair is so strong, and the perms held, and even today, decades later, some people think of me as having curly hair, and ask if I have it straightened!  I am thinking that there must be a fun curly haired little girl within!

A room:

The only ‘my room’ I remember was the one I shared with my sister, and later occupied alone. We lived in that house from when I was about 7 to leaving at 23 to be married, my wedding dress hanging on the wardrobe drawer, getting dressed, the classic “mirror photo” at the dressing table, where my sister had sat before me, on her wedding day, and we both have a photo in that mirror, with the long crack from top to bottom, with the transfer of wildflowers placedto try and distract the eye – put there by my mother, or was it her mother? The dressing table, and the mirror are still with me.  When the room became mine after my sister left to go nursing, I painted it purple – an early claim to it being ‘my space’.  But my memory too is how it could never be closed off from prying eyes (3 brothers!), as the only window was into an enclosed porch, a well used room through all the years, the constant flow of people coming in and out of the house, and always they could see into my space.  The curtains were an open weave to let in light, and so my space was always open to viewing – wow that’s an insight that is ringing loud bells.  Even today, as I willingly share my home, and my studio with others – I am often questioned why, how? The gratitude of my two fellow artist friends who have shared my studio for the past 16 days of our Open Studio event always seems out of proportion, to me, for what I am doing – but maybe I have just never learnt to truly create my own space, and to give it privacy and boundaries that cannot be seen through. Who is the me, what is my sacred space, just for me? Do I truly protect, and nurture, and give space, private space, to my inner soul, my core, my child within?  Food for thought.