• Sally Loutfy

Ceramic Tiles with a Memory

Updated: Nov 30, 2021

Whenever I see this picture, I get overwhelmed with feelings. It did not mean anything to me at the time, but now, these tiles or sadly this image of the tiles overflow me with emotions. My grandmother died in 2017 after a long struggle with cancer. We lived together for all of my life and I was extremely close to her up until the very last moment.

I moved into her room a while after she died and I began renovating it because I wanted it to feel more like "my space" rather than "my tetas room". I wanted it to be "my space" instead of the place that reminded us of her sickness. But what does that really mean? "My Space and not a reminder of her"?

We started with the bathroom because I was so eager to do "my own bathroom". I started drawings, sketching and imagining how the best, most modern bathroom would be. I got the grey floor tiles and the stone wall marbles. I found the best marble top and I got the perfect sink that would "float" on the marble. I did an open shower with a simple glass door and a rain-water-system. All the hardware were black. That was the theme: Modern, Minimalistic and Simple. I did not want anything that was "old" because I wanted it to be "my bathroom". It turned out to be a great space. Very efficient and quite frankly very beautiful.

Looking back now, all I can see are these tiles that we tore down so aggressively. I miss those tiles because I miss my teta. How can such a simple and static material have so much meaning that it governs my memory of that space?

Renovating space is a practice that has been on-going since the beginning of human dwelling. People re-arranged the spaces they moved into according to their own needs and living routines. The struggle for me is renovating a space that you already have memories in. I do not want to allocate this space to negative memories only, because eventhough the last period in this room was hard, it wasn't all negative. I think the spaces that I am referring to here are spaces that you have already experienced and still hold some memories that you are struggeling to accept.

I rejected everything in that space because I experienced unpleasant things there. And my reaction was to erase everything and re-do it all over. But the mind doesn't work as easily as that. These tiles describe everything about that space to me. What happened there, who was there and what I felt when i was there. When I look at these tiles, I remember the space exactly the way it was. I remember my grandmother and I feel the love that I had for her directly.

Its hard to explain but I will attempt will do it. I believe in the power our mind has in accepting memories of Trauma. Trauma stems out of fear. Fear of loss, fear of death, fear of unsafety, etc... Physical objects in specific spaces have the power to remind you of precise and detailed experiences.

"It was my Space and not a reminder of her"

I see now how this is so far away from reality. It was always her space and it will always be a piece of her that I get to experience forever. I renovated my Teta's bathroom after she passed away and I wanted to keep no traces of her in it. All I kept was this image of these tiles.

These tiles remind me more of her than anything else! When I go back to that bathroom, in my mind I directly see those tiles. And when I do, I remember her.

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