Beverly has recently completed her practice-based PhD research titled ‘The space between mourning and melancholia: the use of cloth in contemporary art practice to materialise the work of mourning’. Her studio practice examines the emotional states of mourning and melancholia and seeks to focus on the emotions of grief, loss and absence using techniques such as the mending and staining of cloth. Our familiarity with cloth in every-day life means that we have a vocabulary not only of words but also of experience in the sensation of seeing, touching, handling and encountering it. We can therefore draw upon this vocabulary to think about the involvement of cloth in containing and processing thoughts and emotions and is an ideal medium through which we can consider meaning and making, making-meaning and thinking. Beverly’s current work uses bedsheets which have been torn, stained and mended to evoke feelings of grief and loss. These bedsheets are Army hospital bedsheets from the Second World War – of special significance as a family member was injured and hospitalised in France shortly after D-Day. Folded sheets have been used in Beverly’s work to signify the idea of piles of shrouds waiting to be used – a reminder that we will all one day need to be shrouded. Beverly’s work encourages a focus on the emotional dimension in the words grief, loss and absence. Her work highlights that even when the immediate feelings of grief and mourning are passed, we are changed forever; the emotions embedded in the fabric of our lives emerge at different times to stain our emotional states.
‘The Language of Grief – cloth as a metaphor for loss.’
Beverly’s PhD thesis exhibition will be held at the James Hockey Gallery, UCA Farnham from 4th November to 10th December 2016. This exhibition brings together a number of key works produced over the past five years as part of her practice-based PhD at the University for the Creative Arts.