THREADS, the Delicate Life of John Craske
John Craske was a Norfolk fisherman who became too ill to go to sea and so he began to make paintings and embroideries of the sea, in order to keep close to everything he missed so much. The writing has been an odd challenge, because Craske, who died in 1943, hardly spoke when he was conscious and was often for months on end in what was called a stuporous state . On top of that, his work (along with many of his personal papers) was not taken very seriously and much of it has been casually mislaid. The book evolved around my search for anyone who could tell me something about him: the sort of world he grew up in; the North Sea he fished in; the stories and incidents which seemed to relate to his predicament.
It was only when I was about half way through, that I became aware of a strange parallel in my life and the life of my subject. Just like John Craske’s wife, I was looking after my husband, an artist who kept working with dedication and devotion, but who was becoming increasingly frail. And then, in October 2013 my husband died, while Craske was still alive - at least in my account of him. When I managed to return to the writing the book became the companion that helped to pull me through my grief: my own story and the story of a man who died before I was born, moving forward, hand in hand.
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