It is March 1st.
Saint David’s Day, the patron saint of Wales.
This day could be to blame for my desire to dress up. As a child we would be dressed in the Welsh Costume … hat, skirt, betgwn, blouse, shawl, apron … and sent off to school. A group of girls in a uniform of national pride. The costume is only worn by girls, thereby putting the nation’s memories upon our shoulders.
The memories of any country are a combination of truth and lies, facts and fantasies. It is unclear whether the Welsh national costume comes from some sort of ‘genuine’ and distinct history of Wales, or if it was developed to boost the economy of the woollen mills and act as a symbol for an independent Welsh identity. In my experience, when we put on a costume or play make believe as children or dress up for a night out, notions of who we are and who we wish to be always come into question. Where identity is involved, truth and fact, are insufficient notions.
This week I finished the first element of my own costume. I have created a woven shawl from found fabrics, wool and plastics. I am looking forward to playing dress up when the second element is complete. Saint David is also the patron saint of poetry and, since my own work borrows from literature or poetry to create a character of a place, we will see what poetic imagery comes out of my remaining time in Wales.
The Welsh Costume as worn in the past