Yeo Diptych

Sailor Uniform, Patient Gown, digital embroidery, lazertran digital fabric print, branding. 2014

Revisiting the story of Walter Ernest O'Neil Yeo. The 'Yeo Diptych' tracks events from Walter's early life through to the treatment he underwent to restore function to his badly burned face caused by igniting cordite aboard HMS Warspite during the Battle of Jutland, 1916.

The first part of the work (uniform) describes his extended family tree on the undershirt whilst the jersey features newspaper reports of the loss of HMS Serpent on which his Father served and died including an image of his father with fellow officers aboard Serpent. The overlapping of the lines of text describing the loss of the Serpent are intended to suggest layers of waves. A signalling flag crossword features all the naval vessels on which Walter served, reports, diagrams and maps describing the ship movements and battle event in which Walter was injured.

The second component (hospital gown) describes the treatment Walter underwent to restore function to his face and remove extensive scar tissue. Details include a small sleeve portrait embroidery of Walter in the days after he received his injury framed with an outline plan of the Royal Naval Hospital Plymouth where he underwent some of his early treatment. Text includes reflection on Walter's case by operating surgeon Sir Harold Gillies, along with an excised flap of fabric on the chest reflecting the site from which Gillies harvested the skin graft to be transferred to Walters face. The word Ectropion which is the term used to describe the turning inside out of Walter's eyelids due to scar tissue contraction, is treated in a way in which the underside threat of the embroidery is pulled through to the front side of the fabric in reference to the 'wrong side becoming exposed'. The piece also features a large appliqué portrait interpretation of Walter mid way through his treatment. Fabric from other military uniforms is used in the creation of the portrait.

Images in this gallery include work-in-progress shots. In the coming months, these works will continue to be embellished and enriched and additional garments will expand on the series. 



All Gillies Archives records appear courtesy of the Gillies Archives. Reproduction permission must be requested.