The Linen Memorial
Canada Council for the Arts

Canberra 2004

Lycia Sculpture and Linen Memorial's Facebook Page



February 2004 Canberra, Australia

Lycia Trouton and Prof. Rev. James Haire, Gallery 1 opening, 2004. Video & edit by J. Zutt

The Linen Memorial at Craft ACT Gallery and Design Centre, Canberra, ACT, Australia 2004. launched by Rev. Dr. James Haire, Director of Centre for Christianity and Culture, Charles Sturt University and Helen Musa, journalist, Canberra Times


Transcription of a Speech by Rev. Prof. James Haire


"Linen is at the heart of Northern Irish life. It was the persecuted Huguenots who brought the production of linen from France to Ireland. The production of linen has formed a large source of the economy, both Catholics and Protestants, for 300 years.

Linen is a poignant part of Northern Irish life. It came from a persecuted people who sought their life in Northern Ireland, and yet it became part of the hopes and the suffering of Northern Ireland's people…. The most expensive linen in the world was produced in Ireland. Poor quality of linen was what was also used by the poorest of Irish families and at times of birth and at times of dead, linen was always there. Linen has become a part of Ireland's hopes and Ireland's sufferings.

The Linen Handkerchief was a sign of "going away." John Kennedy [quoting Joyce] called the Atlantic Ocean a "Bowl of Bitter Tears" …. For so many of the Irish crossed the ocean to the United States and to Canada. They sent money back but they never returned…So The Atlantic was a 'Bowl of Bitter Tears'… that was also so for New Zealand or other places where the N. Irish went.

So there is no greater way to express what has happened in the last 30 years as in Irish dance and the symbols of linen…

For linen was Northern Ireland's life blood and also of its suffering….

And The Names .. the Protestant and Catholic names on these squares of Irish cloth are a symbol of life blood and also of the immense pain of the Irish experience.

I also think that the Irish brought to [their adopted countries] - more than anything else - was a love of politics. The reason for their engagement in politics was that they did not, ever again, want to suffer under other people's hands…. They wanted to be a part of the politics and the life of the community…

And it was painful, but in this country they succeeded with positive outcomes that came from participation in political life… to overcome the dreaded fear of the past…

I can think of no stronger or better way to express the experience of the last 30 years…than in linen."


Thank you to Prof. Rev. James Haire, Belfast-Canberra.


Review: The Fabric of 30 years of The Troubles

Transcript of Newspaper article entitled "The Fabric of 30 years of The Troubles" by Meredith Hinchliffe, art critic for The Canberra Times,

Review was published on Wednesday, February 11, 2004, page 27.

The Irish Linen Memorial --- Transformation of Tears: A multimedia work by Lycia Danielle Trouton at Craft ACT Craft and Design Centre, Level 1, North Building, London Circuit until February 15. Open 10 a.m. - 4 p.m., Tuesday to Friday; 12 noon - 4p.m., Saturday and Sunday.

The loss of some hundreds of lives would, in many situations constitute a disaster. It always seems strangely misleading that the violence that we have become familiar with over 30 years in Northern Ireland, is known as The Troubles.

Lycia Danielle Trouton who was born in Belfast and grew up in Canada has recently come to Australia to take up doctorate studies at the University of Wollongong.

She traveled to Belfast and around the same time read a book called Lost Lives by several Irish writers. It reads like a series of obituaries - short narratives of what people were doing and the circumstances of their killing.

Trouton has put the names of the dead stenciled onto white linen handkerchiefs - the size generally used by women -- and has hung these on strips of white, torn linen linking them into a continuous line. The metaphors are powerful: handkerchiefs mop up and wipe away tears, stop the bleeding, albeit temporarily, and wipe up the blood; torn strips of linen used as bandages.

The use of linen, a traditional Irish textile, adds another metaphorical layer. There are strong connotations of nurturing, traditionally a female role.

Other elements to the installation include a digital print of a grave digger on linen and a long board covered in green fabric on which a series of hankies embroidered with names are displayed.

This latter work is entitled Bleaching Greens, referring to the traditional way in which woven linen was bleached. I find this work the least resolved.

Tom Fitzgerald, of Melbourne, composed the haunting music that plays in the background and Elizabeth Cameron Dalman and Vivienne Rogis performed at the opening.

The exhibition has been shown in Seattle, US, and was developed with financial assistance from the Canadian government.

A comment sheet from a previous show is on display which eloquently states, "A very peaceful way to transform a public space into a personal space and back again into public."

The installation is poignant and moving and a forceful, though gentle, reminder of the personal tragedies and futility of war. Its resonance is even more moving in the current environment.


Meredith Hinchliffe is part of the Canberra Critics Circle.