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Friday, March 30, 2018

Making ME.

You so know that a woman who made art about depression (see one post here, and search the blog for other examples), was inevitably going to make work about ME.  So, stuck in the rental, I used what remained of my stash to create this piece. 

I wanted to express the impact that ME has had on my life.  I was frequently described as 'vibrant', 'full of life', and my work reflected that.  Strong colours, oranges, reds, bright blues.  And then I got ME, and work, and vibrancy, stopped dead.  Months in bed, then months in a chair, with little movement, and resting every hour...and when I say resting, I mean ten minutes of every hour spent in silence, with my eyes closed.  Gradually, things improved, and I started to do some handwork, but I don't expect to ever return to the levels of productivity I used to have.  In a way, that's what this quilt is about.

It is made from the most subdued colours I could find in the very limited (one ziplock bagful) of scrap I had remaining. I was, incidentally, astonished to find that I had the colour range I needed for this particular piece, not really my colours at all.   Much of the cloth, like the piece with the postal marks, has been used with the wrong side up, to keep it as neutral as possible.  The dark stitching reflects two things; the amount of crying I do (emotional lability, not to be confused with depression, is a feature of ME), and the idea of the bars on a jail cell.  I don't get out much any more, and the loveliest of houses can feel like a prison if you don't feel able to leave it.  There is a hint of hope in this piece, though, and it is implied by the border fabric.  It is all the same fabric, but the bottom piece and the central bar are right sides out; the rest are wrong side up.  If you look closely, you will see that there is metallic patterning across the surface of the fabric, a gold colour.  For me, that represents hope.  I have indubitably improved in the seven or so years I've had this illness, and whilst it's unlikely to ever leave me, at least I can do a fraction of the amount of work I used to, and hug my family, and do some basic housework.  It's not much, but it makes a life.

More stitch needs to be added; you can see the beginnings of it here:

And, in a move much unlike me, I will probably add a narrow binding.  Yes, I still hate binding, but it seems appropriate here.  Dammit.  I think there's likely to be a series of these little pieces, and/or a small handmade book or two, if only to increase awareness of the illness and its consequences for sufferers.  ME is willfully misunderstood as a mental illness; it is all too physical, and research is beginning to work out what the problems really are. If you are interested, it's worth looking at the ME Association's website; click here for a description of what ME is.

And now I'll get off my soapbox, and on with that stitch.


Stephanie said...

Lovely work Marion, and such a good description of what it feels like to have Me/cfs x

marion barnett said...

Thank you Stephanie. ME is such a diverse illness, this first piece focuses on its general impact, but I suspect there will be other aspects to make work about....brain fog for one.