Mother Love
Mother Love: Ingrid Hesling  
Ingrid Hesling explores the complexities of her relationship with her mother using familiar and often inherited materials. At age 16, Ingrid discovered that she had been adopted when she was 6 weeks old by her birth mother’s brother and his Austrian wife. Ingrid’s adopted mother was skilled in embroidery, and after her death Ingrid uncovered her collection of traditional embroidery transfers which lead, unexpectedly, to the creation of this body of work. These pieces see Ingrid replacing the original rhymes from the transfers with her own words, embroidering drawings which recall her view of events remembered as a young child and most recently reflecting on her mother’s skill at cookery and the importance placed around food as a symbol of love. Using her mother’s favourite recipes, Ingrid cooked and then photographed the food on her mother’s best china as a tribute and acknowledgment of what cooking for the family had meant.  
      A Stitch in Time  

This work is about unpicking my relationship with my Austrian mother who adopted me from her sister-in-law when I was just six weeks old. She was very skilled at needlework, especially embroidery. She embroidered clothing, tablecloths, tray-cloths, wall hangings, anti-macassars, monogrammed napkins and handkerchiefs. I never acquired her skill during her lifetime.
On sorting through her things after she died, I found the folded tissue, iron-on embroidery patterns from the 1950s, which she had used. I also discovered amongst her linen some pieces of embroidery she had sewn but over the years had been put away and possibly forgotten about. I was amused at the clichéd English Cottage Garden theme intricately embroidered by the newly married Austrian immigrant. I feel more ....

      Ingrid’s textile work also relates to concepts explored in the body of work she has produced as a trained photographer. A selection of photographs from her Smile collection accompany the Mother Love textile pieces, questioning our understanding of the family photo album as containing innocent snapshots, and dealing with issues surrounding Ingrid’s adoption; the blurring of her own understanding of identity between her ‘mother’ and her ‘aunt’.      

'Smile' - A Family Album

This body of work challenges and questions the understanding of the family album as innocent, naive snapshots. The memory and interpretation of an individual’s personal history is inevitably influenced by the illustrated archive found in most households - the family photo album. Our ideas about people and events we maybe never knew or cannot remember are formed through the continual reviewing of these photographs and the telling of family anecdotes passed down through older generations. We also revisit our own past, recorded onto sheets of shiny paper, from birth to present day. With the twentieth century’s vast legacy of snapshot photographs as ‘evidence’, a sense of the recent past is more ......... .read more

See more of Ingrid’s work at

website by Sara Fairfax