It is with great delight (and excitement), that I can announce that my quilt “Songlines” has been selected for Brenda Gael Smith’s ‘A Matter of Time’ Textiles Exhibition.
The inspiration, and subsequently the dedication, came from the amazing communities and teachers of the Cape York Aboriginal Australian Academy.
The following is the my artist’s statement (in case you were wondering how it linked to the theme!). This week I will write a short post of how the quilt was made and the techniques I used…surprise, surprise I actually took some photos during the making…
(Dedicated to the teachers and communities of the Cape York Aboriginal Australian Academy)
Time, in Aboriginal society, exists in a vertical relationship rather than in a horizontal sense. The past, present and future are all bound in the eternal ‘now’ of the Dreaming. Time is not viewed in isolation but has an interconnectedness with the past and with the future. Everything that happens ‘in time’ has eternal implications and is elaborately interconnected. Songlines are used to explain these connections.
My songline dreams of the day all Australians are connected harmoniously, and when the elder’s ancient songs are embraced, treasured and passed on, to a tolerant, united Australia – it’s just a Matter of Time.
Brief overview of techniques:
The elder is made entirely of thread and is appliqued onto the background. The ‘circles’ in the songlines are appliqued and painted. The ochre connecting lines and the yellow ‘campsites’ or ‘resting places’ are also made as separate thread pieces which have been appliqued onto the quilt. The background is free motion quilted using silver and a variegated thread.
2015 has been a bit of a multi tasking year; working full time and sewing at every possible moment, I have also been preparing for my daughter’s wedding – you know just the usual kind of stuff – decorations, printing, programs, flowers, etc etc. Full on to say the least and further complicated by the fact that the wedding was in Northern New South Wales, Australia, in a magical place called Tylagum; I was in New Zealand, and Kiriana was in Cape York!! Still it was a wonderful Wedfest (despite the storms!) and I can’t believe the time I have on my hands now that it is all over! Head down, butt up now as I try and complete my entry for ‘A Matter of Time’ – deadline Jan 15th yikes!! It’s all in my head……… Anyway here are a couple of proud mother photos!
I had been contemplating continuing my ‘white on white collection’, although the thought of more white was a little daunting. I had been trying to work out the technicalities of creating a 3D type image that was happy with, but at the same time, being aware of the requirements of ‘art quilts’ needing to be hung easily, transported easily and being also stacked without damage! I had made several test ‘bits’ but none inspired me to continue the process.
Then I decided to change my shape (from the previous rectangles and squares) and decided to go for a full circle – a kind of flower. Firstly, I had to decide on the ‘petal’. It was crucial that these could be ‘bagged’ relatively easily and that also they would be easy to attach. Where to ‘cut’ the bottom of the petal was actually quite important. I discovered this when I got a little slack and had to discard 50 sewn and bagged petals! It was Mary who suggested adding a colour to the underside of the petals. I had already considered this but I knew that it made the bagging and the ironing of each petal much more precise and thus a lot more work….. of course Mary didn’t have to do this!!! We then discovered this wonderful ‘slightly heavier than voile’ fabric on one of our fabric shopping trips and the experiments started again.
I must admit it was a welcome relief not to be surrounded by ‘white’ for hours on end! I had completely underestimated the number of petals that I would need. I know that maths and I are not a natural fit, but how on earth could I be that far out? I would have to whip up another 100 at several stages of the making of this quilt! It soon became a ‘no brainer’ to opt for a ‘graphic’ look and make a half circle, placing the centre (or the edge) of the circle on the left hand side of a square of fabric . Much more manageable in petal count ,I decided. During the mindless sewing and bagging of the petals, I was working out in my head the heavy quilting that I would do so that the ‘flower’ really popped.
On the design wall – the cord was sewn under the lip of the petal to give a bit of a lift – this is the ‘graphic half flower’ look with the fabric for heavy quilting still attached!
While moving the ‘now sewn’ half circle around, I thought it looked like a cloak and from there the idea just ran. The heavy quilting disappeared, the underside edge was bound and I was now working on recreating a traditional taniko border. It didn’t take me long to realise that I didn’t have time to devise a way to do ‘proper’ taniko using fabric (another project!) – so I used a kete style weaving technique to create the border of the cloak.
Of course , now the piece had no quilting on it! I had elected not to quilt each petal as I had done in my previous ‘White on White’ work, so I decided to hand quilt (not a strength) a gentle koru using perle 8 blue on random petals.
Korowai Ma (white cloak) has certainly had an interesting journey and I was thrilled to be awarded first place in the Amateur Wall Hanging Section. I suppose it was fitting that that award ended my amateur status for the Auckland Quilt Guild and that my transition to being a professional tied in with my first magazine cover! I was delighted to be contacted by Anne Scott from the NZ Quilter and asked if I could send the quilt to Wellington to be photographed for the cover and would I mind the cloak being worn by a beautiful wahine. (as if!!!). I am absolutely ecstatic with the cover and admit to having a wee smile when I see the magazine for sale. I love the evolution of ideas – I just wish I gave myself more time to make these massive changes!!