Saturday, 31 December 2011

Crafty New Year

My absence of late has been down to anything but laziness......I promise. Amongst other things Christmas season has been upon us (just in case you hadn’t noticed) and like a fair few of us creative folk I have started a somewhat foolhardy tradition of making all of my presents. In principle you may think this sounds like an inspired choice that can only bring joyful things to one and all, you’d be wrong. I embrace Christmas with the best of them, in fact you could say that I over embrace it and find myself disappearing in a tangle of wool and fabric. In fact it’s becoming increasingly obvious to me that this little tradition could do with a bit of a rethink, next years key words will be strategy and discipline. I shall be channeling my inner drill sergeant, I have military ancestry so that should be a cinch. My creative eyes are far bigger than my two arms will allow, the sooner I start the great Christmas make the longer it seems to go on for. However I am pleased to say that it wasn’t all bad, all gifts were received with smiles and the occasional squeal, always a treat for the old ego. Let us make a date to meet here again this time next year and see if I’ve got a handle on this planning malarkey.

As a wee festive treat, hopefully, here’s a selection of what my elvish self has been up to:

With the close of 2011 fast approaching I look back on what I’ve done and for the first time in a while I feel like I can look back with a real sense of achievement. So all of you folk, old and new, that have geed me along this year, ta very much like! Hope I’ve helped a few of you folks too. As I look ahead at the shenanigans that 2012 could bring I’m feeling grand and hope you all have a good New Years. As I toast the new year along with all this excitement, as I always do I shall be slightly freaking out that with a flicker of the second hand I am suddenly in a whole different year, always does a slight number on me that does!

Friday, 18 November 2011

Letter Lucky Dip 3

254292 Capt M. Walker RAMC
126 I.B.G.H (B.T)
c/o 21 A.B.P.O
India Command

Dear Spike,
                   How is your ankle? Why did you not go sick with it? Don’t you trust the medical profession? If it was a sprain you could have had some local anaesthetic injected + saved yourself all the pain. Why is it that things start happening when you’re around? On second thoughts, you don’t have to tell me.
  I am glad that you have found such a nice family . Jean sounds very intriguing. Don’t tell me you are scared of a mere female. I have visions of your becoming a pukka sahib in the very near future.
I have just had a letter from home telling me that my brother, who has been in the M.E. Italy for nearly four years has arrived back in UK. It’s the best news I could have had. Now I can stop worrying about my mother worrying about my brother!


I am now the only exile of the family.
  I have been out dancing twice this week, an ‘tripping the light fantastic’ again tomorrow night. Well, it may not be light but it’s certainly fantastic. I found myself on the floor with a jitterbug fan (Gee, I nearly wrote it.) He gave me quite a turn in more ways than one! I was at a Sergeants’ Mess dance on Wednesday + was shown round the mess + bar. The whole thing was made out of packing cases the effect in ‘Ye Olde Pubbe’ style was marvellous. The upper part of the walls seemed to be pannelled. There was a lovely bar in the other room with a barrel on the counter + beautifully made high + low stools. At the side were some high backed long seats + they even had a dart board_ I nearly forgot the brick fireplace. You would have loved it.


Bertha is still here but works in the Surgical Div. now. We still share a room but I don’t see her so often now.
  I was Orderly dog last Saturday + during my tour of duties. I superintended the dispatch of a cobra. It had crawled into one of the operating theatres + when the boys had it covered, it reared up on its hind legs, its hood came out_ So did I p.d.q. Great Shakes, I didn’t like it!
  Well, this is another poor effort but you don’t seem to mind.
  I am awaiting the next instalment of your adventures. Look after yourself.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011


Ahoy there mateys! Thought I’d do a quick visual blog to show you some of the wonders my eyes have been gazing at over the weekend. I went off on a jaunt to the HMS Warrior and became utterly absorbed by the wonders of the rigging. My textile brain couldn’t get away from how much it looked like yarn, the images have stayed with me and I’m sure will contribute to some sort of project further down the line. Enjoy!

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Letter Lucky Dip 2

A few posts back I promised a regular feature called Letter Lucky Dip, with all my exciting adventures of late I have been very lax in fulfilling this with no further adieu I present you with the next letter lucky dip.
Eastern Fleet,
Rear Headquarters.
10th July 1944

My Dear Olive,
              Well, Many happy returns, I expect that it will be very near to the time when this parcel arrives, it is the last thing I could find to buy here and I thought that it may remind you of India and my travels here, I am leaving here this next week and where I am going they dont make anything like this at all so I had to get while I had the chance.
              I am wondering if you have had other things yet. I do hope so cause they were so very nice to put in the small desk. It seems rather strange to think the war may be over by the time these things get to you, I hope it is anyhow.
              Well I have a heck of a lot of work to do and piles of packing and your weekly air letter to write so I must close down and pray that this arrives safty.
Tons of love,
If you're anything like me you're imagination will be firing away trying to picture what Harry sent Olive? So your challenge, if you choose to accept it, let your imaginations run wild with suggestions in the comments below. This blog post will self destruct in 5 seconds......5........4.......3......2......1 Poof! 

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Winning Streak Pt 3

No your eyes are not deceiving you I did indeed win, believe me nobody’s more suprised than me. Like all good prize givings the announcements were in the classic reverse order and by the time it came to announcing the winner I was happily daydreaming to myself about nothing in particular. Now this is where I’d like to be able to tell you that I was a most graceful winner that handled the situation with great aplomb, this however was not the case. As soon as my name floated from the announcers lips into my ears my jaw seemed to have managed to detach itself from the rest of my face and hit the floor in the most undignified of manners. In my defence my only acting experience to date is playing a cockney bartender in a school production of My Fair Lady, not really skills I could utilise in this situation, the immortal line “Come on Doolittle out you go I ain’t running no charity bazaar” isn’t the easiest to adapt. I can find some comfort in the fact that my sister was in a similar situation with her jaw, maybe it’s an inherited condition?! So there I was making my way up to get my certificate edging ever closer to a case of full blown hysteria, it was then the inimitable words “I’m so suprised” found themselves tumbling out of my mouth, I know truly inspirational stuff!  Thus my facial muscles began their adventurous work out.

Posing for photographs is not an experience I find myself relishing, especially when my ability to control my facial muscles is being brought in to question, a roomful of eyes watching me doesn’t help much either. But I choose to bob along happily on the river denial when remembering this particular part of the proceedings. If you’re under the impression that it was at this point in the evening that I could relax and try take it all in, I’m going to have to set you straight. I found myself being further suprised when I was told by the gallery that they had been in contact with my local paper and they wanted to do a feature on me (my facial muscles silently wept at the very thought of this). Not long after this another exciting and suprising piece of news found its way over to me, someone had bought my piece and wanted to meet and have a picture take with me. I was more than happy to oblige, the idea of someone wanting to buy a piece of my work is still something I find quite thrilling. I’m happy to say he was a lovely guy too, my sister and I had a lovely long chat with him. What was particularly pleasing was that he worked for Network Rail and would be hanging it in his office, I don’t think I could get a better a compliment!

Now to the business end of this entry, the prize, and boy what a prize! Here goes:

- A big version of my work is going to be on display in the new south entrance of Blackfriars station for a year (Olympics year no less!)

- A copy of my work will be buried in a time capsule to celebrate the opening of the new entrance.

- £1000 worth of art materials from GreatArt and a £500 voucher (that’s right folks I will never have to buy art materials again!)

- Lets not forget my lovely certificate, frequent glances at this have confirmed to me that I have indeed not dreamt all of this!

Friday, 7 October 2011

Winning Streak Pt 2

As promised what shall follow is a continuation of my exciting and rather surprising September adventures. In my previous post I told you about all the things I’ve been entering lately, in the hope of getting my work out there in to the wider world. Another of these endeavours had the most magnificent and unexpected of results, it involves a slightly obsessive hoarding tendency, a few train journeys and an inordinate amount of grinning.

It was by pure chance that I happened to notice an art competition that The Guardian were promoting called London Lives: Travel, I checked it out and noticed there was only a week left until the deadline, normally this would have made me write it off completely, but after my experiences with the QR-3D and Blast/Bless projects I was fired up and chomping at the bit to get stuck in to something else. So I decided to just go for it, what did I have to lose! If you’ve looked around this site at some of my other work you will have noticed that a lot of it involves objects that have their own personal history, frequently entangled with that of my own. It shall be of no surprise then that I love to hoard, it is almost impossible for me to throw anything away, I see too much potential for interesting art in all of it. One such thing that I have held on to for the last few years is a collection of train tickets from my travels to and from my time at Winchester School of Art studying for my degree and the occasional London trip for birthday celebrations. This wasn’t just a case of not cleaning out your purse I consciously kept hold of them because I thought they were a powerful record of a very important time in my life and would be perfect for an art project further down line (pun only slightly intended). This competition provided me with the perfect opportunity to utilise my stash.

So to the creation of the actual piece, as with all my work history plays a strong part in my ideas and what comes as a result of them. The competition was tied into the redevelopment of Blackfriars station so it was only right to incorporate the station's history with that of my own. One of the things that I find fascinating about train travel in particular is that so much of it is about waiting, the simple act of standing or sitting still, hoping for the swift arrival of your next connection or the train that will take you to your final destination. It is in these moments of stillness that my love of people watching comes in to play in a big way. So many creative people get inspiration from simply observing those around them, be they writers, designers or artists. So much about art is to do with the human experience, what we see in others around us can tell us so much and waiting for a train is one of those perfect times. People lost in thought, the weary traveller laden down with bags who just wants to be home with their feet up, the busy who hate those enforced moments of stillness they can’t avoid, these people are all in a shared experience but their reactions couldn’t be more different. I wanted to really engage with this in my work so I scoured images of people waiting at train stations for silhouettes that really struck me, I didn’t stick to the passengers of today, I found images from those travelling at the beginning of the 20th Century. Marrying the old and new I used my tickets for the modern silhouettes and images of old Blackfriars train tickets for the old. Thus with it’s completion my entry was sent out in to the great beyond with only the faintest of hopes that something would come of it.

Skip to a week or so later and there I am sitting at my computer doing the morning e-mail check, clicking through the usual circulars from the all the arts organisations I follow, hang on what’s this “Dear artist, We are delighted to inform you that your entry for the London Lives: Travel competition has been selected for display at Bankside Gallery.” To say I was anything less than a squealing and slightly hysterical schoolgirl version of myself would be insulting your intelligence and mine (what little there is of it). When the initial shock and glee started to wear off the terror started to creep in, my work was well and truly out there that meant that I had to be too. Insecurity, an artist's best friend, the annoying co-dependent sort that you can’t seem to get rid of. If it wasn’t for my most fabulous family  my brain may well have exploded, especially when it came to the printing and framing of my work, something I’d never really done before, working mainly in textiles I’ve never really had to call on the services of either a printer or framer. With the help of my own personal superhero (my wonderful sister) and her super powered chums especially the faultless and generous work of @mustardpost, my troubles were soon defeated. Here I’d like to pause for a moment so that you can all play a small snippet of rousing music, Eye of the Tiger, Superman theme, your choice.

Right that’s enough. Back to the story, that’s if you haven’t fallen asleep yet! With my piece framed and packed off to the gallery ready for hanging the only thing left to do was attend the private view. So off I went armed with a nice dress, pretty earrings (now dubbed my lucky pair), a mum for moral support and of course a new train ticket for my collection. On arrival we met up with my sister who was to be my +1 for the evening. After a day of enjoying what the glorious London had to offer we set off for the Bankside Gallery. Upon arrival we were greeted by the lovely gallery staff and I was given my very own name tag, all very exciting. We both pretty much spotted my work straight away, situated rather delightfully opposite the gallery’s front desk, it was such a thrill to see it there on display. After speeches from the gallery, Network Rail and Cancer Research UK my sister and I took in all the other entries. There was such a huge variety of work and so very different to my own, I was in no doubt that I wouldn’t win anything and was still riding high on the fact a piece of mine was on display in a gallery in London, next to Tate Modern no less. The possibility of my work maybe getting sold during the exhibition was as far as my dreams would dare to take me. Shows what I know!

It is at this point in proceedings that things took a most unexpected turn. The time had come for the winners to be announced........

Monday, 26 September 2011

Winning Streak Pt 1

Life like most things has a way of over taking the best of intentions, hence my very shameful lack of blogging of late. But what wonders I have to fill you all in on, that’s if you don’t already follow me on twitter, where you probably would have heard this all before!

Well where to start.....I put my ‘Lost Voices’ project on hold for a short time to focus on scouting competitions and projects that could get my creative brain cells firing away and hopefully get my work out in to the wider world, the idea of which I always find mildly terrifying. I think that’s pretty much true of most artists to be honest, we are experts in the field of self-doubt and those of you who aren’t I am more than a little jealous. Much to my suprise my endeavours have paid off rather handsomely I started by taking part in the Creative Review and Tate’s Blast/Bless project being run in conjunction with the new Vorticists exhibition at Tate Britain, my piece was “blessed” and can still be seen on the project website.

Next to catch my eye was QR-3D an exciting project being run as part of the Manchester Science Festival looking at whether QR codes can be made using textiles. My first piece unashamedly involves a bit of self promotion with code sending people to this very website. But to stay true to the ethos of my work the code is sewn as part of a hand sewn old postcard, complete with foxing, using a very British tool, tea. Not forgetting the postage Her Royal Maj makes an appearance in the corner (1st class of course!).  My second piece was a bit more playful, a yellow duster with a QR code that sends people to the Good Housekeeping website, pinned in its frame like an old butterfly specimen. I’m happy to report that both pieces have been accepted in to the exhibition and will be on display from Sat 22 - Sun 30 October at the Cornerhouse

There is still more great news to follow but I shall leave that for my next post otherwise I feel this entry may never end, always leave your audience wanting more......I hope! It feels great to have my work out there and to start to get feedback from others, always a scary prospect, but worth every nail biting moment! Do not fear my next entry will follow tout suite, I’m too excited to hold it in for long.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Letter Lucky Dip 1

19th August 1941

Dear Stanley,

I was very pleased to have your letter this morning before I set off for business, and I am sure that you will appreciate the difficulties we are in visiting you on Thursday. I asked your Aunt Hetty to write you in the event of my not being able to do so by return, but i will take this home and include it.

On this very important occasion I should have been most glad to have given you our moral support, and our joint blessing. We trust that it will initiate a period of such happiness as is only known to perfectly matched couples, and if you will bear in mind the experience of your parents and ourselves, that the first forty years is the worst, you will overcome any trifling difficulties that will only add to your ultimate mutual happiness later.

In enclosing cheque herewith, I trust that you and May will have the joint opportunity of buying something suitable as a memento of the high regard in which we hold you and her, and your families.

Yours very sincerely,
Best Love Wishes
J B?eton

My dear Stanley,

Sorry we shall not be able to come. Uncle Joe is up to the neck with work with Sammy having been called up about a month ago, he is at Blackpool.

We do hope and trust you + May will be very happy + this dreadful war will soon be over and you + May will be able to settle down together.

Fondest love to you both. Love to all.

A Hetty + U Joe xx

Any Interesting Post?

All good things come to those who wait, this blog post hopefully being one of them. As I hang my head in shame at my complete and utter neglect of this blog, I can only plead for your forgiveness. To make up for such an indiscretion I have very exciting plans for this entry, so bare with me and I hope I can earn your forgiveness.

For me good ideas seem to come along like buses, positively Saharan for what seems like an eternity and then a flurry of them all at once. This was the case when I came up with my ‘Lost Voices’ project. At the same time I came up with two other ideas that I think have promise, one of which I shall tell you about now, entitled ‘Any Interesting Post?’. The idea grew out of the creation of my ‘Lost Voices’ photographic archive. Many of the images I found were photographic postcards that had a selection of fascinating messages on the back, words that were too important to ignore. The stories that unfolded on the back of these postcards were captivating and chimed with my passion for family history. I got to work straight away trying to find the authors in historical documents, creating family trees and placing what they had written in as much context as possible. Like the images of children I had been collecting, these words had been lost to history, separated from their intended and just floating around in the ether. To me this is what history is made of, the forgotten stories of the millions of ordinary people like you or me. With ‘Any Interesting Post’ I hope to change this, bringing these words back into the open again and allowed to breathe.

This project is still very much in its infancy, but has gathered some momentum over the last few days after a rather satisfying and painful browse through eBay, my purse is still recovering from all of the hits it’s taken. One purchase in particular I am more than a bit pleased with, a box of 100s of letters spanning 1940s-1960s. Having arrived this morning I am more than a bit excited about diving straight in and seeing what treasure awaits me. To share in this excitement I have decided to make a bit of a feature of this in my blog. Every month I shall be doing a sort of letter lucky dip, where I shall pluck one letter at random and share with you its contents and any other interesting information I have been able to discover about it. The first in this thrilling installment will be posted later today, I know you can barely contain your excitement!

I hope with this entry and the promise of things to come I have earnt just a smidgen of forgiveness for my tardiness.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Stitching under the influence of germs.

Due to a bad case of germ addled brain I decided handling heavy machinery i.e. sewing machine, was probably not the wisest decision this week. So I decided to dust off my stranded cotton and flex my finger muscles with a touch of hand embroidery, and I must admit I have found it all rather delightful. As you can see above, my first endeavor was a bit of a promotional exercise, just to clear out the cobwebs and key into the old embroidery memory box. Through a haze of coughing and spluttering I seemed to have found a rather pleasant and productive zen state.

After my little adventure into PR stitching I decided to venture down my more usual and comfortable artistic path. After witnessing some really quite exquisite skies from my sick bed, and a plethora of birds having a rollicking good time in them, I settled on a series looking at Starlings in flight. From a very young age I have always loved birds in flight, birds perching are nice enough, but wow when they flew I found them captivating. In actual fact one of my earliest memories is riding in a car looking out of the window and wishing I was a bird flying alongside, make of that what you will. With their exquisite and mesmerizing displays Starlings were the perfect choice. So far I have created a small triptych and am currently cogitating over plans of a much grander scale.

This week may you all have as productive a time as me.....minus the germs!

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

I've been framed!

Avoidance, something I have quite artfully mastered. Up until this point I have been employing these skills quite thoroughly when it comes to finally framing my work. But this week I bit the bullet and got myself in gear. I’m sure I’m not alone in this struggle, and there are many of you out there who do everything in your power to put off such an event. The presentation of work is such a complete and final commitment, when the decision has been made and acted upon there is very little chance of undoing it. This is the particularly cruel part of the process that I like to dance around, continually distracting myself with shiny objects, like metallic thread (see previous post).

In keeping with the themes and concepts that I’m working with in ‘Lost Voices’ I have known for a very long time that I want to present each piece in an antique frame. So off I went trawling the seas of ebay for only the best specimens. A task I found more difficult than I expected, too many of the lots were in far too good a condition. What I really wanted to find were frames that had lived, a little rough round the edges but still functional. After many hours and stressful bidding wars, trying to avoid that dreaded of all beasts the auction sniper, I managed to get my hands on a great selection. The many weeks I have spent avoiding have only added to their worn charm......honest!

With all the necessary tools in place and itching to be used I started to procrastinate on how best to stretch my pieces and it wasn’t until I found a very helpful guide from Textile Artist Ruth O’Leary that I managed to get my sluggish brain cells firing on all cylinders. But once I did there was no stopping me, except maybe the occasional bite to eat and drink. All went very smoothly and I now have my first framed piece, after which a celebratory dance may or may not have been attempted! The final result can be seen in my gallery of current work here.

Good luck to all of you out there who are or soon will be attempting such things!

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Metallic Thread - Friend or Foe?

I find myself having been rather tardy in updating my blog recently, this has mainly been due to my possession by a sewing fiend. Due to technical difficulties (printer having a temper tantrum) I haven’t been able to do much work for ‘Lost Voices’ so instead I turned to some jewellery making. I decided to play.......nay I mean work of course, with dissolvable fabric or to use it’s technical name Solvy Vanishing Film. In no time at all a series of pencil doodles became tangible physical creations.

I shall now take a moment to tell tales of my battles with metallic thread. Both my sewing machine and I are taken in by it’s shiny promise and then find ourselves cursing our decision to ever attempt using it. I find it has a tendency to lull me into a false sense of security by allowing me a couple of minutes of free sewing and then finding itself tiring of this decides to make my life all the more challenging. I have however now sought my revenge, a dastardly plan involving my machine, dissolvable fabric and no frills embroidery thread that often gets outshined by it’s trickster cousin, so sweet revenge had by all. Simple in it’s execution I trapped lengths of metallic thread between two layers of dissolvable fabric, imprisoning it with my reliable friend embroidery thread. Not only highly satisfying to make but also quite pleased with the result!

I have also been enjoying the company of fellow tweeters in the twitterverse and thought I would finish by recommending just a small selection of the fabulous and creative fellows I have come across: @knitthecity @MollieMakes (very exciting magazine on sale from 12th May) @NurseyBangBang @Craftivists @jenny_arnott @deadlyknitshade @TheSavvyCrafter @SewCraftyFox @clarehillerby @ukhandmade @TheMakingSpot @MrXStitch (Manbroiderer extraordinaire with a fantastic website), lastly and completely biasedly @OandtheFoxes (Funny, creative and just happens to be my sister, must be something in the genes!)

Farewell and have a glorious and sunny week!

Friday, 25 March 2011

Antique Inspiration

Rather fortuitously this Sunday, 27th March is the official 2011 UK Census day, but lets be honest I’m sure some of you will have already filled out the form. I’ve only glanced at it so far, but it certainly looks long and detailed enough to take a good few hours, no doubt with a few head scratching moments. Despite the hassle I do feel a strange connection with the whole process, all those old census records that have played such an important part in my genealogy research and in turn my art. Part of me can’t help thinking how much more juicy those old documents would have been if our ancestors had been asked half the questions we are. Throughout this blog I shall be continually trying to encourage and cajole as many of you as possible to start your own family quest. It just so happens that Ancestry are giving free access to their UK Census returns on the 27th, I dare you to find a more perfect opportunity......hint...hint.

It isn’t only old documents that can be a great source of inspiration, photographs can and have sparked my creative exploration. After the amazing discoveries I told you about in my previous post I started experimenting with the photograph of Ellen Rose Violet Heyes and the first kernels of the visual side of ‘Lost Voices’ sprung to life. But it wasn’t until a while later that certain events propelled my project forward and it became a fully formed entity.

Often it’s those chance encounters or events that can provide you with the most clarity and make things really start to click. One such occasion was a long desired family outing to Ardingly
antique fair, years in the planning and getting round to, the day became quite an occasion, even seeing Bargain Hunt (the original daytime antique experience) being filmed. My fabulous sister and I trekked off with our spending pennies to see what wonders we could throw our money at, I left all the wheeler dealing to her, a very wise decision on my part! My sister has an infectious confidence and strength that has helped me endlessly when I start to feel those dreadful artist doubts! So it’s no surprise that by just stopping at a stall she inadvertently moved my project forward, if she hadn’t who knows where I would be now.

It was at the most amazing stall, absolutely heaving with old postcards that the cliché
lightbulb moment struck, I saw written on a piece of card ‘Children’ amongst a sea of tabs. Drawn to it straight away I went to investigate and found the most moving selection of photographs and postcards, all showing the most wonderful characters whose voices deserved to be heard. The idea that these children have lost their connection to their family and are just floating out their in the ether really struck a chord with me and chimed with my work. Thus the idea for my own photographic archive of lost voices was born. Growing in ever increasing size it provides me with endless inspiration and source material for my work.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Who do you think you are?

I have always been a keen amateur genealogist. The introduction of programmes like Who Do You Think You Are? and the ever increasing availability of historical records online, has just added fuel to the fire. It wasn’t long before this passion began to feed into my textile art.  (BA hons Winchester School of Art).

The past and the secrets it holds have long been a fascination to me and have fueled a lot of my creative exploration. It was through this process that my current project ‘Lost Voices’ was born. While researching my Grandad’s family I discovered that he had four sisters that he knew nothing about. These four young girls had been lost to history and their voices silenced in the family. The rediscovery of the girls spurred in me the desire to reclaim their place in history through my art and started my journey to discover ‘Lost Voices’.

My newly discovered great aunts shall now, with the help of this blog, be able to reclaim their identity. They were Ellen Rose Violet, Maud Alice Gertrude, Rose Beatrice and Gertrude Selina Heyes. Both Rose Beatrice and Gertrude Selina died within the first two years of their birth, Ellen died aged 8 and Maud at age 4. To say it was a shock to find these little girls is an understatement to say the least, something even more surprising was yet to come.

One of the great things about the internet in recent years, well for genealogy nuts like me anyway, has been the online availability of those records that used to be stored away in archives gathering dust and small familys of spiders. The world of genealogy has opened up to those of us who don’t have the time or the resources to trek the country searching for those very personal links with the past. For those of you reading this who are yet to venture into the murky and glorious depths of your own family tree, I can’t recommend it highly enough. A good first step to test the waters is by going to or .com, depending on your location, and it was through this website I made a fantastic connection to a fellow enthusiast and member of my family, fantastic discoveries and startling realisations followed in quick succession. My new found friend and relative had a glorious collection of photographs that my little twig of the family tree had never seen, one of which showed one of my great aunts, these little girls, slowly were coming alive again and being brought back into the family.

What was even more remarkable was the realisation that an old family photo that my family had had for years actually contained the image of another of my great aunts, Ellen Rose Violet Heyes. This mystery girl in the photograph whose identity had never been known, suddenly came to life, with all I had found out. These girls whose voices had been stolen could now speak to me and would never be lost again. These revelations inspired me to start on a journey to reclaim the children lost through time and give them a voice with my work.