This was an installation by John Calder, utilising John’s obsessive production of hazel & willow structures, and dedicated to Betty’s obsessive collection of Saris.

John, 6th September, 2016:

“Betty is completely unknown to me, except through the Saris.  She must have many aspects to her identity - some of which are now fractured, diminished or even destroyed by the tragedy of aging.  The Saris are a manifestation of just one strand of her identity but one which can physically survive her aging condition somewhat separately from her now. The Saris are a part of Betty's identity which is fading.”

“I am unknown to Betty, but well known to me, of course.  However, looking at me when I retired twelve years ago you would see no evidence of my present obsession with all things land art. I did not have the skills to lay hedges, to coppice woodlands, to make charcoal, let alone to construct 'sculptures' and there would be no evidence of any creative urge - but that is central to my identity now. The land art is a part of my current identity and one that is growing.”

“At one level, it's actually a confessional - I am SO lucky to have found an end-of-life mission that is absorbing for me (and for a select few, entertaining for others).  In stark contrast, Betty, like so many others (and who knows what's in store for any of us) is confronted with a continual erosion of her identity through a cruel aging process.“

“Side by side, the presence of Betty's vibrant colourful and patterned materials, and my purpose-built structure in the rather drab tones of natural materials might present an interesting and immediately accessible statement on the diversity of taste...but beneath the surface there would be more for those that might enquire.”

Bob (Betty’s neighbour and friend), September 8th, 2016:

“Thoughts on your notes include:”

“The sadness of aging and dismantling of the goods and chattels associated with an active life and the fading ability to do justice to the material. There may have been a thought that buying masses of Saris with an intention of doing all things creative with them, helped to stave off her aging process. “ 

“The joy when many of those goods and chattels go on to new owners who see in them either the same vision as the owner had or a new vision which gives them a further lease of life. It was interesting when selling the Saris to hear that some would be quilts, one was the handy cover up for an overseas tour, some were a pick me up for someone looking for a new project.” 

“One, which did not result in a sale, was a lady of Indo/pakistani origin who looked long and hard at the Saris before deciding that these were part of a past to which she did not wish to return.“ 

John, 15th September, 2016:

“Please pass on my thanks to Betty, Bob. I’ve enjoyed creating a simple framework to display a selection of her wonderful saris and, after ArtsFest is over, I hope to find a good home for them.”

The above conversation was left with the installation as a form of explanation...some 'interpretation'...when Gill Horn from Hampshire passed through, it resulted in an extention to the conversation  (in the form of a written note left with the work) as follows here:

Gill, 29th September, 2016:

“If only my wardrobe were so colourful; so delicate and draped my history so elegantly. 

The peacock blue sari with maroon border speaks of a regal happening I wish I had attended. 

If I had the space, my wardrobe would also reflect my love of nature. 

The supporting structure respects its growth and the marks enhance this stage of its life. 

Burnt in memory. 

The fire of spirit and bindings resonate with nature and its versatility. 

(Just heard – do you think it’s a fortune teller in there?)  

As I meander amongst Betty’s robes I feel an intimacy and am privileged to know this aspect of her love of colour, and appreciation of the tactile quality of silk – cool in Summer, warm in Winter – the skin of her celebrations and a cloth of her culture.

The circle, baskets the human form, containing an empty presence as life ebbs away.

I spent a joyous half an hour imagining the smells and sounds that have evaporated – finding Gods on high and possibly Betty’s spirit. 

Thank you John for giving me an unexpected and unforgettable experience – a walk-in wardrobe of a spiritual nature.”


Published on 30/09/2016.

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