“You hang out the sheets just like your mother: beautiful and perfect and white.”
What our next-door neighbour said to me nearly cut me in two. In those first terrible weeks after my mother died my father and I were trying our best to make sense of things. We were putting one foot in front of the other. The idea that anything could be beautiful and perfect was a revelation. Small domestic tasks, performed carefully, could make things better.
Thirty years later, my son sent me a photograph from Venice. Sheets hanging, strung between buildings, glowing against a backdrop of blue sky and terracotta-coloured buildings. Beautiful and perfect and white. The Laundry Series started percolating in my mind. Laundered linen, slipping and snapping in the wind, an iconic symbol of renewal: clean and fresh and full of hope. A mundane domestic task turned art form.