In 1978 the poet Craig Raine published a book called The Onion, Memory. It is a brilliant image for something so complex and yet everyday as memory, our experience of the past in the present. The onionís layers are delicate, semi-transparent and at the same time pungent. Cutting through his own remembered life the poet weeps:
It is the onion, memory,
that makes me cry.
Art and craft are bearers of memories, shared and individual. But memory is intermittent. Crafts are lost and relearned over generations, or even within one lifetime. Freddie Robins has rediscovered the cross-stitch of her childhood and turned it into something new that speaks of both her younger and her present self.
Memory may be built into a work, like the Victorian floorboards in Andrew Holmesís cabinet. Or it can be summoned up by one evocative object. Inside Julie Arkellís shoe bags lie the long dead cloakroom hopes and dramas of a million distant schooldays.
Artists select, collate and categorise. In remembering we are each our own artist. The past is sometimes brightly lit, certain moments catch the light like the unexpected treasures in Zoe Hopeís boxes. Or we may prefer to keep memories in compartments like Grainne Mortonís tiny found and natural objects.
We may nudge the past into the present with mementos. Yet how different is the idea of photographic memory Ė complete, precise Ė from memory made by photographs. We all know how randomly they catch events and how at times they lie. Natasha Kerr has drawn on images from her own past and other exhibitorsí. Her textiles celebrate the temporary conjunction of six artists brought together for a summer. In September they and their work will go their separate ways, their meeting itself a memory.
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