Mending Portraits is a continuation of 0CO2 Leather, where I continue to perfect the all natural, 100-percent chemical-free tanning method of transforming raw salmon skins into leather.
In addition to the material research aspect, the project is also about how this material can be used for constructing and weaving narrative-based 'textiles'. I re-appropriated textile-related techniques, such as strip weaving, two-dimensional and three-dimensional triaxial weaving and stitching. In my designs, I sought to tell stories highlighting the importance of preservation, aspiring to preserve knowledge and memories on the verge of being forgotten. In my research, I came across ganseys, or guernseys, a.k.a. fishermen's sweaters, and was inspired by how each stitch told a story of the fishermen who wore them. I discovered how much of the gansey and UK maritime history were lost due to the lack of recordings from the dying fishermen and their wives. Through The Fishermen’s Mission, I interviewed retired fishermen and widows based in Anstruther and Hull, whose stories are the inspiration behind each design.
Visual Inspiration i
Visual Inspiration ii
Special thank you to Lance Forman for providing all the salmon skins I needed for this project, Peter Donald and Tracey Oliver from The Fishermen's Mission for connecting me to the retired fishermen and widows in Fife and Hull, and Jen Gordon from The Scottish Fisheries Museum for letting me use the archive and library.
Then, a very special Thank You to all the retired skippers, fishermen, widows and knitters who took the time to share with me their stories: Ian Murray, Edith Rattray, Tony Keay, June Bilton, Ron Wilkinson, Joyce Cowburn, John Walsh and Bill Hodgson.