In 2018 I was invited by Region 1 of the Quilters’ Guild to make a quilt for Spotlight@40, part of its 40th anniversary celebrations in 2019. I was honoured to have been asked and delighted to accept.
I had many ideas before fixing on the design for my contribution - I thought about printing ‘40’ in various shades of red to mark the ruby anniversary; I considered creating several traditional blocks and overlaying them with ‘40’ using either paint or sheer fabrics; I toyed with the idea of using the word ‘forty’ in various languages but how many should I incorporate in my quilt? After all, not every country has a heritage of quilting.
It was while researching languages into which ‘forty’ could be translated that I decided to use text. And rather than focusing on the number it would be interesting to see what other significant cultural, political and historical events occurred forty years ago - thus the idea for my quilt was born. Of course, in the quilting world the formation of the Quilters’ Guild would have been the highlight of 1979.
My concept was to have the words ‘Formation of the Quilters’ Guild’ centre stage in a large red font, to refer to the ruby anniversary, surrounded by the other events in smaller and varied fonts using shades of black and grey, like newspaper headlines. Investigating events for inclusion was a lot of fun and I chose subjects that resonate with me - I make no apologies for ignoring sport and religion.
I have used Photoshop as a design tool for many years so typing in and manipulating selected headlines around the virtual quilt was easy; different fonts, sizes and opacities were auditioned; the layout developed from blocks to lines of text. I saved each change in the design to enable easy reference back. From time to time I printed onto paper to proofread and check the layout. These examples give some idea of the development of the quilt:
From the outset, my design was for a single headline in red for ‘Formation of the Quilters’ Guild’ and black and greys for the others. However, this was to change - accidentally and dramatically. I did a test print on paper, as before, but now the printer had run out of cyan so the end result was that the entire image was printed in varying shades of red. This was just great! Much more interesting, lively and in keeping with the ruby theme.
The design was digitally printed onto cotton sateen and machine quilted with horizontal lines of stitching between each line of text. However, I felt that this looked rather dull so another print was ordered. Using a light cream thread, I hand stitched all over the quilt with seed stitch and was much happier with this version - an organic stitch creating texture and contrasting with formal lines of text.
The finished quilt, “Headline News”, together with close-up images where you can, hopefully. see the rather subtle stitching.
20 June 2018 was World Refugee Day and with my copy of The Guardian came a 60 page supplement, now known as The List, marking 25 years of the European refugee crisis. It was compiled by United for Intercultural Action, a network of anti-racist organisations,
The first recorded death was in 1993 - the suicide of Kimpua Nsimba, a 24 year old refugee from Zaire, in a UK detention centre; the last recorded death was on 6 May 2018. The List has details of 34,361 known deaths of refugees and migrants trying to make new lives in Europe. The details include names, ages, gender, places of origin and causes of death - drowning, suicide, murder - but there is a distressingly high number of mass drownings where few other details were recorded.
I knew that I needed to make an artwork responding to The List, especially as permission was freely given to use the data, providing the source, www.unitedagainstracism.org was acknowledged.
The catalyst was the call for entry by SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates) for the next Global Exhibition 'Forced to Flee' in May 2019. You can see how I made my artwork by clicking on the Works tab above.
I was delighted that my piece, 'Page 27 - Exodus 1', was selected for inclusion in the exhibition. My gratitude goes to United Against Racism for their generosity in allowing The List to be used by artists.
Swingfield Centenary Quilt
In 2018, the Centenary of the end of World War 1, thousands of commemorative events were organised across the country and the village of Swingfield in Kent was no exception. My friends, Steve and Barbara, played an important part in fund-raising, planning and, eventually setting up the events leading up to Armistice Day.
Nine men from the village, including two pairs of brothers, had died in the Great War and their names were eventually carved on the lychgate of St. Peter's Church. One of the planned memorials was to have life size acrylic silhouettes of the men seated on pews in the church - still present though absent.
I felt compelled to make a contribution to remembering the deceased and the choice and size were left entirely to me. It didn't take me long to work out a design that was simple but striking. The names of the men were stencilled onto fabric using a military style font and images of poppies, from my photograph, were printed onto fabric and fused down. The whole piece was then machine quilted.
This picture shows the quilt hanging in situ, in St. Peter's Church. I particularly like the rather ghostly acrylic silhouette of the soldier.
Having made many quilts on the theme of the poppy, this will probably be the last one, perhaps fittingly, given that the centenary has just passed.
So far 2018 has been a busy and exciting year - two groups to which I belong have shown work at two separate venues. And it was an opportunity for me to explore in some detail my subject for my exhibition pieces based on Dryden's translation of Virgil's Georgics.
The first in time was 'Contrasts' with All Threaded Together at the Yarrow Gallery, Oundle, Northamptonshire, 3 - 16 March. The group consists of former students of Brenda Boardman who meet once a month to exchange ideas and encourage each other. Most importantly, it is an exhibiting group - pictures and details of the exhibition are accessible with this link: www.allthreadedtogether.com/exhibition-2018.
The second exhibition, 'Into the Fray', was with New Horizons Textile Group at Cowslip Workshops, Launceston, Cornwall 27 March - 8 April. The exhibiting group is a long running one, formed in 1993, and which I joined in 2016. You can see pictures of the exhibition here: www.newhorizonstextilegroup.com/into-the-fray.htmlwww.newhorizonstextilegroup.com/into-the-fray.
The third show is 'Connections', also with New Horizons, was at the Festival of Quilts, Birmingham, 9 - 12 August. This is the largest quilting and patchwork show in Europe with about 30,000 visitors over four days. So Virgil got a lot of exposure!
Patchwork Professional Magazine : January 2018
Dorothee Crane, the editor of Patchwork Professional, a German quilting and textile art magazine, approached me last year with a view to doing a feature about my work. I was delighted to work with her, all by email and telephone, and the magazine was published in January 2018.
With her kind permission, the article is shown below, in German.
SAQA "Made in Europe"
I was delighted that my piece, Southbank 13, was selected to be shown in venues in the USA in 2017. And it has now been chosen to travel to three venues in Europe this year.
You can read about the process of making the piece by clicking on this link - Works
You can access archives of earlier entries in this section by clicking on the News tab above