("Purly Wurly Takes a Picture", 1998,
embroidery floss on linen, 11 inches by 16 inches)
*click to enlarge*
The above embroidery was sewn over a three month period in the late 1990's when Piero and I were living in London. It was a heady time. Tony Blair was riding the wave of "Cool Britannia", a pickled shark had the art world agog, and the bands Piero worked with (Radiohead, Blur, The Verve) ruled the airwaves. On October 3rd we were married in a quickie 15-minute ceremony at the Chelsea Registry Office. When the book was placed in front of me to sign, I was a bit taken aback to see the word "Spinster" emblazoned in huge writing next to my name. Evidently, holding off until the age of 32 to get hitched had consigned me to that rather mortifying appellation. Piero of course had a sexy hand-written "Bachelor" next to his name.
One weekend we were invited by some friends to spend a few days at an ancient manor house in Scotland with a gaggle of their acquaintances. (If you read this blog, you'll know I'm referring to Gargunnock House.) It was our first time meeting most of the other people and you know me, I'm always up for an impromptu adventure. Our fellow houseguests included a Brazilian backup dancer for the Pet Shop Boys and his saintly boyfriend (appropriately named Angel); two PR women from Piero's office at EMI Records; a glamorous vermillion-haired DJ named Princess Julia and her semi-brutish boyfriend (seen at front left of the embroidery) who fought constantly; and a celebrated makeup artist named Purly Wurly who spent the entire time looking for her drug buddy Leonard (the one in the camouflage shirt) who had set up shop in one of the spare bedrooms.
During the dinner pictured above, the feast Piero cooked remained largely uneaten and various people kept disappearing only to return minutes later with a sudden case of the sniffles. Despite the occasional drama, it was a rollicking, laugh-laden weekend, complete with midnight wellie walks, candlelit games of sardines and an actual costume ball. A few weeks after our stay there, I heard that Princess Julia cut up all her boyfriend's clothes and tossed them out the window of her Clerkenwell flat. And sadly, Purly Wurly never overcame her battle with substance abuse. She died a few years after this piece was completed. I look at it now as a woven snapshot of a highly colorful moment in time, when life felt unrestrained and some of us were either unafraid or unconscious of how our actions would affect our futures.