Maria Thomas’s role amongst her family is the inspiration for the work she is exhibiting this year. ‘Relative’ is a series of works that explore her family history and sense of belonging. She shares with the viewer a personal experience of family ties and cherished relationships that have evolved from her position as a female amongst them. As a mother, daughter, sister, auntie, niece and granddaughter, Maria creates textiles as nod to the ones she loves – her family.
The family traditions of shared recipes, letter-writing and sewing are blended together. Subtle memories of once upon a time are used to create an atmosphere – and the backdrop to some of her pieces. Redundant objects and daily ephemera, some referencing domestic chores, are gathered up and used as memory keepers. Papers for wrapping and cloth for covering are often included in Maria’s varied patchwork items. Whilst some pieces come together as whole garments, others simply remain as parts, made repeatedly and displayed as symbols of love.
Selected papers are layered with cloth and glue and remain amongst the patchwork: though usually removed Maria prefers to keep them in, creating a framework that supports her story. The cloth is then worked with many traditional patchwork and quilting methods, an opportunity to stitch by hand, slow up the process and allow the work to evolve.
The pieces Maria makes are the silver lining to her hard work, existing easily between household chores and family interruption. There’s a lot of reflection and unpicking involved, but like family life, patience is the key.