Yesterday, our friend Pem invited us for tea. She lives in a beautiful appartment with a stunning view over the river Ijssel. We had a lovely afternoon. After tea came wine..and the sun went down.
We know Pem a few years. Some years ago we were invited at her place for a dinner with friends. Still a memorable evening.
At that evening Pem showed me a book made from textiles.
I remember that it touched me deeply.
Yesterday I took my camera with me, and the plan was to take pictures from the whole book and to write a blog about it.
This books deserves it!
ABC is on the cover and you can read the name Pemmy..
It is a book made out of textiles after the ABC book written and drawn by Rie Cramer.
But this is the moving story behind it.
Pem was born in Lawang, Java.
In May 1942 - at the age of 2,5 - Pem. together with her mother and sister were sent to the mixed internment in North Sumatra (south of Medan) named Brastagi. When the Japanese came into charge things got more worse for everyone in the camp.
There was not enough food, but as Pem told me..as a child you just accept the world you are living in..
Later in life, you realise what has happened. How horrible it was. How difficult it must have been for all those people in the camp. The struggle to survive. The pain and sorrow and the constant fear.
What to do during the days and evening?
To start a school was not allowed, but ofcourse in secret it was organized.
What better book than using this ABC book by Rie Cramer..
It was not allowed ofcourse to have this book, so it must have been hidden somewhere. Under a matress perhaps..
Because food was on ration (some days there was hardly something) the women lost weight. Garments became far too big, so scissors and thread was taken to make in in shape.
"Make do and mend" was the reality. Leftovers from the fabrics were never thrown away..and so were thread and other materials. Everything was kept, and used again.
Pem was having her 5th birthday and she remembers it as a lovely and special day. They played games, sang songs (In Holland staat een huis) and she got the book.
The book was made by woman from the camp.
She was not allowed to play with it, but she remembers vividly sitting with her mother and her mother telling the stories.
It was kept by her mother, who was very careful with it.
All scraps of fabrics were used to make this book for her.
Everything was placed on fabric from rice bags.
All pages are done by different woman.
A true Labour of Love..
Love in every stitch..Stich by Stich..
After the war, and later in life she got the feeling that the book really belonged to her.
What better dedication to her and all the women who made the book is to show some images..
The book starts with A ofcourse and under this page is the image from the original book by Rie Cramer,which was used as a template.
There is the B..from Baker..
The details are just beautiful..and made very inventive..
The baker drawn on paper and stitched on the fabric..
The loafs of bread made with corn grains split in halves and sewn on...
The little embroideries and applique..and the combination of fabrics...
The little Teddybear for the Birthday Boy Jop..the beautiful stitching around..
It must have been strange in a way to hear about cold wind blowing while staying in the climate from Indonesia..
Cold wind from the East and wearing mittens with an embroided heart on it..
Pem was named on page Q and so was her sister Jos.
Even colder is this scene from a skating girl.
What is striking is the brightness of the textiles after all these years.
It has kept so well.
There are lovely little mistakes in writing..
A verse is written in Old Dutch..
All kind of techniques and materials were used..
I esspecially love this green Fox terrier..
The book ends with this mother and child scene..
As mentioned before...
This book has touched me deeply..
It tells the story of surviving in a prison camp..
It is about friendship and the love to make something beautiful for a little girl.
About creativity and making beauty out of saved up fabrics.
To make something positive in a very negative time..
It is about courage..
I try to imagine the scene...hard to do..
But most of all it is about...
A little girl who has kept this beautiful book all her life, and who was willing to share the story with me.
Thanks so much Pem.