Text and identity

Having considered osteological marks and the marking of archaeological human remains, I started to reconsider text and identity.

With my son having just started secondary school, labelling belongings as a form of identifying an identity became interesting. We use name tapes to label school uniform but the armed forces also use name labels to identify individuals.



Reflecting back on my sketchbook I considered the name tapes as a long ribbon and several sketches drew me.


These started me thinking of ideas of:

  • Confusion
  • Chaos
  • Lack of control
  • Muddled memory

Instead of names I went back to the Icelandic text. I continue to really like the idea of using the language of a peaceful nation to say words relating to war.

  • Fjöldamorð – Massacre
  • Bjóðarmorð – Genocide
  • Þjoðernishreinsunum – Ethnic cleansing

I want to use these ideas together.

  • One very long length of name tape with the Icelandic text woven into it.
  • Red text on red ribbon to create an impression of the text, a memory.
  • Red also implies blood spilled
  • At the moment I envisage it ‘pouring’. One single thread going into a pile of tangled ribbons.


There are a lot of dual meanings and metaphor here for me, something that I really like to explore.

  • Pile – mass grave.
  • Individual memory and identity
  • Tangled threads are difficult to unpick
  • Red mass – blood spilled
  • Lack of control and confusion
  • Name tape usually shows a single identity but the same words used over and over again references our initial ideas of a mass grave as being a singular object. But it contains many individuals each with their own memories and identities.

After much searching I have found a company that produces name tapes and lengths of woven ribbon with text. I have ordered white with red text and intend to try dyeing a test to see what outcome I get.

29th September


Sample name tape using text

  • Fjöldamorð – Massacre
  • Bjóðarmorð – Genocide
  • Þjoðernishreinsunum – Ethnic cleansing


Section coloured using Dye-na-flow. Red text on red ribbon

  • ‘impression’
  • Covering things up

I have ordered 30 meters of these name tapes.





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