Self-Portrait: Mended


Self-Portrait Mended by Eleanor HannanSelf-Portrait, Mended by Eleanor Hannan

This piece is based on drawings done the day after 7-hour surgery to remove skin cancer from my nose. I chose to have only local anesthetic so as to be awake during the surgery. I was aware of all that was going on including the remarkable stitching process that the cosmetic surgeon performed to rebuild my nose after all cancer had been removed.

The piece for mended is in the main panel made up of hand embroidery emphasizing the “stitching path” of the surgical mending. The two small side panels reflect the imaginary process illustrated in the butterfly drawings that I experienced on that day following the surgery.

Although I trusted my surgeon implicitly, I had no idea what my face would eventually look like. It was a challenge to come to terms with this vulnerability. I had a sense then that this moment marked a time for me wherein “I had come to the end of all that the old way of thinking had given me”, that this was a new beginning.

I have been longing to work on this imagery as a way of looking at the transformation that occurred through the surgery and the inspiring “mending” that I experienced on that day; the actual stitches made in my face to reconstruct my left nostril, I was being mended.

As all of us stitchers can relate to, I felt a comradery with my surgeon. I, like him, spent parts of my days making “stitching paths”. As I lay there is something like a dentist chair I felt that mending needle going in and out of my face pulling parts of my left cheek and eye over to become my new nostril.

Stitching keeps broken parts together. A simple stitch can literally mend lives. All it takes is a sewing needle, thread, pair of hands and a heart determined to restore in order to stay connected.

This is Part 2 of Mended Lives. Click here to read Part 1.

A broken heart, relationships and even a pair of old socks can require mending at some point. Is it possible to make something more useful or functional by mending? And what about mending your ways? The works in this exhibition reflect diverse experiences and interpretations of mending through creative expressions about family, love, loss, and renewal. mended is a travelling exhibition of contemporary textile art. 

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