Oscar Grasby
BA (Hons) Fine Art

The Ties that Bind

My grandmother Marian stitched a multi-generational legacy of veneration towards textiles and textile processes into the foundations of the family she created. Wearing the clothes and outfits she made for me were formative moments for me as a child. A stroke she suffered in late 2020 left her with physical and memory impairment, and many of her defining characteristics were subdued or no longer recognisable. Months later during a visit to her, I was profoundly affected by her resurgence of memories from her youth when experiencing the materiality of the fabric of clothing and garments she had made earlier in her life. This experience intrigued me and I started to explore the relationship between object, memory and storytelling. After her death in August of 2022, whilst sorting through family archives I was reminded of this moment when I found the fancy-dress outfits that she had made for me in my childhood. Many memories of my early years centred around the materiality of my clothes, and inversely, experiencing the materiality of the fabric in the here and now became a conduit to early childhood experiences for me. This made me consider the relationship specifically between textiles, memory and storytelling, and how the materiality of textiles ‘archives’ and ‘activates’ sensory memory. Motivated by a desire in grief to reconnect with and memorialise my grandmother, my focus shifted towards a personal exploration of family, heritage, and identity. I embarked on a journey to engage with the textile processes she had woven into the fabric of our family. By acquiring these skills inherited from her via my own mother, I aimed to establish a posthumous bond with her, drawing us closer together.