Table linens

What remains...

This, together with 'Radiant girl', is an instalment of a larger work inspired by the textiles I’ve inherited. My mother (1933-2014) had an impressive collection of Damask and other table linens: each tablecloth was accompanied by a small notecard with size details, the kind of table it could best be used for, where it originated from and when. While some of the pieces were never used, stains from meals eaten long ago are clearly visible on many of the other tablecloths.

dierbare herinneringen aan moeder door Margareta Svensson

Tablecloths and napkins seldom play the lead role on a set table, but generally serve as a background. Perhaps that’s why these go so well with set of objects I’ve collected over the years, namely the bones of dead animals.

It’s almost as if the worn linen bears witness to the fragility of life, the vulnerability of our bodies and the irrevocable passage of time. Perhaps bringing together this comforting smooth linen and the clean white bones is precisely what keeps my mother's voice alive. As a story about the fleetingness of existence in the face of what remains afterwards.

Een dierbaar herinnering aan mijn moeder

These photos were inspired by a short walk with my mother in the early spring of 2014. The pace was slow and we had all the time in the world to look around. This is most likely the pelvis of a roe deer, we both thought it was a beautiful find, impressive in size yet fragile and clean. This tablecloth (linen damask circa 1940) inherited from from my great-grandmother, was made for a large oval table. Also read the article about material memories.

Geborduurde letters zijn dierbare herinneringen aan mijn moeder

These vertebrae lay in the forest for a long time, intact and clean-picked of flesh and skin. They seem to go together, lying on this damask napkin with an S embroidered by my mother, circa 1968.

Damasten servet uit textiele erfenis van moeder

A skull and upper bill of a seagull’s beak, extremely fragile and elegant but far from perfect, much like this stained linen damask napkin. With the monogrammed MS of my great-grandmother Mathilde, circa 1890-95.

twee konijnen monogram

Two rabbit skulls, found by my son on the Dutch island of Vlieland around 1996, soaked extensively in bleach and then dried. Unbleached linen Damask napkins. Marked with a mirrored G, embroidered by my mother circa 1956.