The old saying that the wheels of progress move slowly has been has been verified in the case of this quilt, which was commissioned by Nickie over 10 years ago when we met at a presentation I gave about my quilts for the Wheel of the Year.
I am sure that during this long period what was need for the design was slowly gestating before coming into form. I had been keeping the fabrics she gave me on that occasion at the Women’s Centre on the Central Coast, NSW, safely in a plastic container awaiting the day that they would ‘call me forth’, which happened towards the end of 2010. The materials, which had been brought back from Damascus by the woman’s father when she was a girl fascinated me; and the fact that they had threads of gold running through them amd were embroidered with gold thread filled them with light, and me with awe. There was also a sense of almost fearful anticipation, since I had been entrusted not only with such beautiful fabrics but also to tell the stories of those who wore them over fifty years ago. I knew that different parts of their individual stories had been very sad, and yet, the 3 frocks and capes that had been made up from these beautiful pink and green damasks woven throughout with real gold for the mother and her 2 daughters also represented their beauty, pride and playfulness. I wanted the quilt to be a celebration of their lives - and, something tells me it has succeeded in doing that.
Working with the story as it was told to me by Nickie, of her Romany Gypsy father who had served with the British army in Palestine, her Welsh mother and her sister, to whom she remains very close, the design for the quilt started to take the shape of a simple four patch, with the symbols in each of the four central panels focusing on the family connections of Celtic and Rom ancestral backgrounds. The original design gradually expanded into a nine patch, to include Nickie’s sister’s longtime involvement with Scouts Australia, and her own inherited gifts of Spirit, for healing and psychic ‘sight’. Nickie explained that she is ‘constantly in awe of Creation, both seen and unseen. My life has been quite a journey, full of love, angels, magick, music and fairies’.
It became evident that the quilt would be a banner, a herald, a family coat of arms to be hung with ceremony, transforming the little frocks and making use of the glorious ‘pomp’ that was evident in the splendid, almost royal style of the capes, with their elaborate gilt borders and adorned with epaulettes!
More of the quilt’s Creation Story in the next post.