Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Hanky Project

I cannot hang this post on a photo. Well, I could, but within a minute of meeting Julie Barratt I knew that I wouldn't. Nor can I start this post with the first "photo-less" idea that I had. That's about someone else's story, someone else's grief. What Julie has managed to achieve in the Hanky Project gives me goosebumps. Motivated by her own loss, she invited others to submit representations of their grief and loss, on Hankerchiefs. It turns out that the Hanky transgresses age, generation, class, gender and culture. This is obvious when you walk into the room and see Hankies from all sorts of people, in all sorts of places, many being the Hanky of their loved one.

That the exhibition has found itself in the Napier Hotel is a personal fluke that I find extraordinary. This is Anna's pub. I didn't know her, but people that I love farewelled her in the very room this exhibition occupies. A lot of grieving has occurred within the four walls of the Napes. I will never forget the sadness hanging over the pool table on the tenth anniversary of Anna's death (and being kicked out well after the tired bar staff were supposed to close). For someone with an obsession about time and space, I am transfixed by this coincidence.

But back to the Hanky Project: Just Go See It. Julie has collected, on Hankies, the most intimate stories of 100 artists from 12 countries. The stolen generation, children, mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, friends. Their stories fill Hankies that are hung loose, pinned up, folded, encased in boxes and dripped in resin. They have been written on, cross stitched, stained, painted and reinvented. "This is the last thing that he touched" reads one. "Permission to cry" suggests another. Precious Little's eloquent words adorn the walls: "I visited your old room yesterday, where the furniture still dimples the carpet with its absent weight". She has a Hanky of her own.

I do cry. What would my Hanky say? "Suze opened her eyes briefly in the hour that I sat looking upon her and I leapt into that last connection like she was a pool of water and I was on fire".

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