The idea for “Frayed Nerves” came to me after I returned home from my first shopping trip to our local supermarket at the beginning of the quarantine period. I hadn’t slept much the night before, in nervous anticipation. As a “senior”, I could take advantage of the seniors-only early morning shopping hour which was a big relief. But I didn’t know what to expect and the experience left me very anxious until I was finally back in my safe little house. By the time I had sanitized everything I bought, washed my hands a dozen times, my glasses, and sanitized my phone, I was exhausted.
Most people have been house-bound and it is nerve-wracking for many of us, creating a heightened sense of anxiety, frustration, and boredom in an already anxious time. We find that our nerves are frayed by our confinement and lack of control. But, as uncomfortable as they are to wear, and as much controversy there is around wearing them, it has been the wearing of masks that has provided us with the freedom to venture out beyond the safety of our own homes.
Over time, we are reluctantly becoming more accustomed to wearing masks, and adapting to a new fashion accessory. Many people have started sewing masks for friends and family, and some for business, which is great for those of us who are hopeless at sewing them. When I first sewed a couple of masks I was so stressed for no real reason. It was just the idea of having to make masks that we had to wear for our protection that had me rattled. It didn’t help that I was using a new sewing machine that was just different enough from my old one to drive me nuts.
“Frayed Nerves” attempts to capture our sense of confinement and frustration with 162 squares depicting our enclosed spaces. Social distancing keeps many of us in our homes and the 2-meter/6-foot separation we must respect when we do go out among people holds us back from moving about as freely as we used to. Within each square is a scrap of fabric, representing the masks, our front line of defense that we are required to wear for our protection and which allow us some freedom to step outside our safe zone. Many people find the masks difficult to wear. Others believe it curtails their freedom and even civil rights. However, wearing masks is the one thing we can do to keep ourselves and others safe and free from this devastating virus. Please, wear your mask. It's that simple.
The colourful fabrics used to represent the masks are actual scraps of fabrics used by people to make masks. Some scraps are my own fabrics, but several people have graciously contributed their own mask-making fabric scraps to this mosaic.
My thanks to:
Amanda Stapells; Marg Cameron; Carole Lulham; Gail Sperling; Heike Roegler; Kate Clark; and Priya Rajan.