I started sewing the first night gowns during the summer of 2022 in Portugal. Then I spent time in Germany, my country of brith.
I stayed with my grandmother. We spent a lot of time together during this last stage of her life - until she passed away.
I told her about Mutterzelt. She listened and smiled in an almost invisible way - maybe more inwards than outwards. There was a soft glow in her eyes. And it felt like she liked the idea of a work that is honoring the female collective and our ancestresses.
It was clear to her too that soon she would become one of them ...
Two months passed - it was a warm summer day. Maybe around two weeks before her transition. I was working on the computer outside on the terrace, when she rang the bell from her bed room.
I helped her out of bed and she accompanied me outside in her wheelchair.
It was a time during which she already seemed to be moving between realities - heaven and earth. At times fully present in the human realm and other times already speaking to me from some faraway place.
On that summer day she told me that she actually enjoyed the warmth of the sunshine and that she might want to get a special sun chair for herself in order to be able to enjoy it more frequently and with more comfort. But we wouldn't have to talk now - I should return to my work on the computer. So we sat there in silence, in the warmth of the sun. Me typing. She with her eyes closed.
Suddenly, out of the blue, she said with a soft voice: "Luisa, I've been thinking about your project... And I think what would be interesting to include are old writings ..." Our conversation took a different direction and in the end I didn't actually get to hear what exactly she meant by old writings.
It was one of the few last conversations we shared from person to person. And so in the context of MUTTERZELT my grandma left a little mystery behind. What kind of old writings was she thinking of?
I know I will come across these writings ... My grandma will send me a sign from where she is now, when I am ready to receive it.
Trusting in the divine timing of things, being patient and open to receive means doing things in an organic way. To follow ones own intuition, to be aligned with ones inner rhythm means being guided by female principles. Listening to spirit, to nature, to our ancestresses means being present in the larger web of life.
This is the way I am approaching the work process of Mutterzelt:
I let things come to me ... I let them speak through me - voices from the past, present and future - voices from the female collective.
In 2015 the idea of making a tent out of women's clothes came to me for the first time. Quickly I came to the conclusion that these clothes should be nightgowns because they were the most intimate clothes I could think of.
My grandmothers and their mothers were born into a time which was strongly impacted by morality regarding sexuality, nudity and expressing one's feelings. I felt like the night gown was the one piece of clothing that would be the most appropriate, most truthful to represent their vulnerability, their inner landscapes and life stories.
After this idea came to life, my grandma gave me a couple of old night gowns. Back then I didn't share the idea for this project with her yet. Because most likely I feared she wouldn't understand (yet) and would discourage me with an unsettling comment ...
Some of the night gowns used to be her own, some used to belong to my great-grandmothers - women who had experienced two world wars.
Even though I didn't start the making process of this project for many years to come - the seeds were sown and an inner process was being activated.
In 2022 I came across lots of old bed sheets in a storage space of my family's house in Portugal. These sheets used to belong to my great-grandparents. My parents had brought them from Germany decades ago. They were too old to use as bed sheets - some of them had already been cut up and used as cleaning clothes. But for me they were way too precious for that ... I was in awe! It was the perfect material to sew the nightgowns and start the practical realisation of MUTTERZELT.