This was made in response to my very first visit to Sudeley Castle in 2011 and has been at the Castle for several seasons now.
I was particularly struck by the story of Katherine Parr. I looked at and (tried to!) read her writings and I gazed for ages at her beautiful memorial in St Mary’s Church, finding the knowledge that her remains were actually below it, rather discomforting and sad.
She died from puerperal (childbed) fever.
We are told that the child, Mary became an orphan at just a few months old when her father was executed for treason and that she was sent to live with Katherine Willoughby, the Duchess of Suffolk. I have been able to find out very little else. It seems all record of her disappears after August 29 1550, the eve of her second birthday.
The work is not about embroidery and stitch. It is about the ACTS of embroidering and stitching; the almost ritualistic time, care and love which goes into the making of those very special first clothes that celebrate the arrival of a new child.
The site of baby clothing often provokes unexplained sentimental reactions, particularly from women. Freud tells us that this is fetish. Such clothing reminds us of the child itself and is embraced as a substitute for the ‘lost’ child. Freud means ‘lost’ in terms of the fleeting period of babyhood, but in this case, Lady Mary Seymour was apparently quite literally ‘lost’.