The work I want to show you today is a unique, one-of-a-kind piece I was commissioned to make for a daughter from her father. The young girl in question had been celebrated on a very special day. Her relatives and loved-ones had each brought her a small token to remember this happy occasion.
Her father presented me with a bag of these precious treasures and asked me if I could create an art piece incorporating them into the design. As with a lot of my other work, I had a lengthy conversation with him about his daughter and asked him what he would like me to be thinking of when making the piece for her.
I spent a great deal of time reflecting and ruminating over the concept behind this work and what I wanted it to convey. I had to think about the objects I was given and how I could artfully include them. I wanted the tokens to feel like they were at the centre of the design and not just added in at the last minute. I wanted to create something that was to showcase them and their meaning.
I thought about maybe doing a version of the Threadbare Bugs. I thought the bug could be carrying the beads like an offering but it never felt quite right. I sat with the tokens in front of me, handling them and really trying to take them in. There was a shell, small fairy and firefly keepsakes, there were beads in different materials like stone and glass, there was a bead with the girl’s first initial on it and there were lots and lots of hearts.
I thought about all the girls father had said about her with such love and tenderness. It became so apparent that all that was before me was evidence of a great love. I wanted to create something that would be a talisman that represents the pure love for this girl and that she could use it as a resource for when the cruel world plays its tricks. I wanted to create something, that when she looked at it, she would be reminded of the deep feelings that were felt for her and how valuable she is to all that know her.
I decided I would use the classic symbol of the heart for this talisman of love. I made two strong pieces of hand-made felt and cut out a template of a heart shape to suit the scale I needed to hold these treasures. I decided I wanted to encrust this felt heart with beads, buttons and sequins in multi-shades and tones of vibrant red. I worked each side of the piece separately. I added a slender red ribbon to all the tokens and by sewing I secured them to the inside of one half of the heart. I then had to bring the two pieces together to create a whole. I decided I would use a turquoise coloured bead around the joining of the seam to bring another dimension to the overall look of the piece. I believe the colour has a strong positive energy to it and I wanted to add it to the talisman.
I wanted to give this girl a token from myself. I decided I would make a butterfly for her and attach it to the corner of the heart. The reason I chose the butterfly is because in Native American Medicine Cards, the butterfly symbolises transformation. Being so young, I felt this girl will probably go through many transformations in her life. I hoped this butterfly would be a charm for positive and healthy transformations. I made it partly from felt and partly from paper. I wanted to include the wisdom of books and education into the piece, with the added bonus of an extra texture, bringing something different to the look.
When this talisman was completed, it was heavy with embellishment and, hopefully, deep feelings of love and appreciation. What is not recorded in these photographs is that I suspended the heart in a large glass jar so the piece could be contained and displayed. I wrote a short piece to accompany the art work, further expressing the feelings that inspired this talisman.
I like how the photographs for this work turned out. The grey subdued concrete contrasts strongly with the vibrant detailed talisman. I feel talismans should be unique, nearly odd, talking points. I wanted it to feel other-worldly, a thing that brings magical messages from other realms. I want it to draw you in and make you ask the questions: What is this? What is it for?
The answer for me would have to be: Love. Its all for Love.