On the dining table, on top of the television set, on the bed side table, on top of the fridge; those are just a handful of the places where every Greek migrant mother would proudly exhibit her crisp white doilies for the world to see.
Well-pressed and elegantly crafted with the finest detail, throughout the years, those little pieces of material became a trademark in every Greek household and rightly command their own place in the history of Greek Australians.
“My childhood memories are of my mother sitting at her sewing machine surrounded by pieces of cut material that would eventually transform into beautifully crafted doilies that she would then proudly display at our home,” says Maria Kokaris, whose mother Katy, a skilled seamstress from Kozani, migrated to Australia in 1962 at the age of 22.
“My mother and her generation of women that migrated from Greece, developed the skill of crocheting from a very young age, but they also made sure they kept it alive here in Australia. They used their imagination in creating unique patterns and stitching; something, I will never be able to do although I was taught by her at a very young age,” adds Maria.
Despite this, she appreciates the importance of those little treasures, and so decided to use intricate pieces that she had accumulated from her mother, grandmother and aunties over the course of 30 years to create her own piece of art.
“I was sad and embarrassed that many of these pieces had lived in my drawers for many years, and I decided to figure out a way to preserve the craftsmanship and showcase the detailed work,” she explains.
Slowly the idea of a framed piece of artwork was born.
Maria bought a large frame, painted the cardboard black and arranged her favourite doily items with the assistance of her mother.
“It took us only a few days to complete and I can now safely say that the hardest part of the project was to decide on which pieces I wanted displayed, as I loved them all. My sense of pride to show off this dying but not lost art form, was unimaginable,” says Maria, who then went on to share her masterpiece on social media, never expecting the response she would receive from fellow Greek Australians.
“It has been unbelievable to connect with so many people and receive so many positive comments, and very much to my surprise even seeing other Greek Australians posting their own pieces which have been professionally framed,” she says.
“It was certainly a wonderful experience for me, and I have enjoyed reading the comments and seeing all the beautiful works that others admire and appreciate as much as I do.
“As significant or insignificant [as] they might seem, I feel it is our duty to try and find ways to preserve those little pieces of history for the generations to come.”