My Last Dream Pillow: Don’t Look Down

          don’t look down!

These rapid drawings below are early attempts to express one of my most vivid dreams lest I ever forget it…. But the dream was not ready to be forgotten, it has reoccured often in one form or another – evidently I have not learned its message; the loosening ladder rungs and the tiny impossible blue window never change

the earliest drawing above on the left has some written comments that I was interested in using for the embroidery also I seem to have both shoes on; the one on the right is scaled up for embroidering on a sheet! What was I thinking?

Here I am again some years later ( the shoes are getting looser) climbing out of the chaos of my scribbled darning designs for a book that eventually never got published!!!!! with a burning heart to the right and no way back down that ladder. Circa 1998.

So I recently decided to embroider it as a pillow for my ongoing project Make it Through the Night . It is a simple idea and my friends who saw the drawing were highly amused by me in my nightdress losing my shoes…but I started this piece just before the lockdown and now I see it in a very different light.

The most recent drawing I made using a photograph of me in my nightshirt climbing on a chair.
drawing now traced straight onto the pillowcase in water soluble pen – all the drawings alongside

The interpretations of dream referring to ladders are many and varied depending if you are climbing up or down, and a broken rung (just the one) means “you will never achieve your greatest ambitions” while “to lose a shoe is indicative that you have forgotten something important ” or “finding your direction in life difficult” – and as to the lack of underclothes whilst climbing a very high wall in your nightshirt……

I found stitching the ladder the most challenging piece of work, a vintage pillow has only a limited space for inserting embroidery hoops and working straight onto fine linen needs stretching. I preferred to use some natural linen yarns and whip them into position making a more fluid line – finding knots and drawing them became a fascination.

above are the various ways I managed to stitch the ladder into position, with and without a stretcher.

Now to the window: in some dreams it is impossibly teeny tiny, in others I get to go through it – only to find a steep and shaky descent on the other side into more blueness, the one thing always in common is that it is always a brilliant and shining deep blue

the background of the sky is painted with cotton dye, then embroidered in silk threads, it is high up in the farthest corner of the pillow case

and here it is finished – washed, starched and pressed as a proper piece of Household Linen

I feel now that it makes its own statement without the added words; and why should it balance? I mean, what am I describing?

AND it is only after finishing this that I see this is a perfect portrait of how I feel right now – just coming out of the strictest lockdown period….uncanny!

However, we were well into the current lockdown before I had found the impetus to finish this work. And while stitching I realised that I just wanted to stop this whole project that excavates very personal ideas, dreams, mottoes, and observations….I did have more ideas that I planned to stitch, but now I no longer want to make them. It has taken me over 10 years, off and on, to get here.

Now I aim to celebrate….

 

2 thoughts on “My Last Dream Pillow: Don’t Look Down

    1. Hi Maris,
      well thanks – what is astounding is that I can let go of this whole set of work now after all this time. And with all the re-thinking that has come with the the quarantine, this realisation was the most freeing. So it’s an ill wind…..I have parked it all into at the Gallery section and now am working on – guess what? a Kantha stitched dawn sky!

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