The jumping off point for Kirtley Jarvis' embroidered work is found hand-written notes, often by or concerning family members. Using a technique called “couching”, she lays down onto the fabric one or more strands of embroidery thread or fine cord, and secures them in place with fine hand stitches.
At the centre of this piece is a shopping list made by her mother as Christmas approached. It shows her strength, a grim holding-on, at a time when the family was devastated to see her father sink lower and lower from the effects of a brain tumour. Her mother was asked to sign a surgery consent form. Her father made a gesture to her which she interpreted to mean that he wanted to write something, too. He made some tiny scrawls on the back of her list (which Jarvis has incorporated into the consent form). It took her mother some time to realize he had written “Billy Mink”, his father’s pet name for him (taken from Thornton W. Burgess’s Green Forest children’s books).