Mending fragments of a memory (2021)
Mending fragments of a memory utilises discarded fabrics my grandmother and aunt had sewn together many years ago, to produce a cross-generational collaborative work that explores the use of textiles as a means to share language and culture. The work acknowledges the disconnect I feel from my Cambodian heritage, the loss of language as a result of migration, and the breaking down of familial relationships consequently. The work
looks towards piecing together stories from my childhood, most significantly reflecting on a story about my grandmother. The story tells of her fleeing the Khmer Rouge genocidal regime with her gold jewellery sewn into the inside of her clothing, which in turn funded the means to pay for her and her children’s safety.
Little golden trinkets in the form of flowers, swirls, beads, petals, phoenixes, and lotus leaves adorn the fabrics. These metal trinkets have been hand stitched into the material to cover the Khmer text previously painted on to the fabric, which speaks about experiences and encounters with war. These concealed elements create secrets only shared between myself and those who know of the stories.
Initially intended to be used as blankets and bedsheets, the lengths of fabric worked on by my aunt and grandmother have been repurposed, cut and further manipulated to speak to ideas around methods of handing down matrilineal practices and the process of piecing together fragments of familial stories from the Khmer Rouge period.
I would like to thank my aunt Thear Sok and my grandmother Ly Sok for providing the textiles and materials for this work.