Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Jan Hopkins - Comfort Me
"Comfort Me" Ink on a vintage hankie. 2010.
One of the enduring memories of my late Grandma is of her hankie tin. Every time I went to visit, she would send me to fetch it from the airing cupboard that smelled of household soap and burning coal. She would allow me to choose a hankie from the tin or sometimes she would have saved one especially for me. It was an affectionate and comforting ritual that never lost its charm. It carried on long after I'd stopped using hankies and only ended when Grandma was too ill to even remember there was such a thing as a hankie.
They weren't new hankies mind you. Grandma would pick them up from the pavement, the gutter, wherever she found them, bring them home, boil wash them and press them into clean little rectangles. Waste not, want not was her motto.
On a personal level, hankies represent caring and comfort and little shows of affection. Here, I used a vintage hankie that once belonged to a stranger in the same way my Grandma's hankies had. The hankie may bear the stains of others' pains and grieving, almost a palimpsest of pain, and I just added my own. It describes my overwhelming sense of dread in the face of the reality of death.