Since embarking on this search for my past, I’ve collected lots of bits of information – a sort of patchwork of photos (not enough of them), images of statutory and parish registers, and lots of “bits” that provide background, like newspaper articles and maps. Together, it’s not “enough” for a sustained piece of prose, but it’s starting to feel like too much to hold in my head. On top of this, I’m finding that what really interest me are the patterns formed – ancestors from different parts of the family sharing similar experiences and stories.
Being a visual person, I’m trying to make sense of these and have been experimenting with a form I love – collage. These are two pieces I’ve worked on so far; the first a piece for my mum that’s trying to locate us – she and I – amidst the women who bore us and for whom we’re named. The second came from seeing parallels between the war dead in my husband’s family and my own, and in particular the loss of unmarried, childless sons. As the mother of a teenage boy, I felt these losses through a mother’s lens.