Wednesday, December 14, 2016

“The charge of the Goddess: Resilience”

It is clear that this small art quilt, begun over 15 years ago, wanted to have a showing. And so, after more work on it in the last few moths, it’s getting one in Braemar’s “Summer exposure” exhibition in Springwood over the 2016-17 holiday season. It originally started life as a ‘still life’ vase, with a small patch of night sky left over from a previous quilt, and flowers gleaned from the fabrics of all types in my stash, mostly furnishing fabrics, which were then fused to the wallpapered background of a room with a recessed window. It was always intended that a moon be present, thereby influencing the choice of fabric flowers and their shadings. With the vase full to over-loaded, I had decided to do some hand stitching into the flower centres using embroidery thread. Perhaps I would have done more stitching, but energy levels have been intermittent this year since beginning my treatments with Immunotherapy for metastatic melanoma. I just wanted it finished! And that was facilitated with the help of fellow textile artist, Kerry Beaumont, who spent the best part of a day bringing my floral arrangement into low relief with her skilled free machining – the extra layer of wadding behind the flowers helping to create this effect. (Thanks Kerry!)

I remember having thought about a title many years ago: “Full moon rising” (…remember Credence Clearwater? Well, not that ‘bad’ moon…!), with the moon just creeping over the windowsill into the night sky. But Moon didn’t show up till near the end and came sliding in sideways, in full glory. Suddenly the goddess prints I’d had in my stash for about the same length of time called, and the Bird-headed Goddess of the Nile from around second millennia BCE (or even earlier) jumped onto the foreground, holding her arms aloft as though celebrating the abundance and fullness of life that Earth brings every summer season. She took her place in a frame on the checkered tablecloth as an expected, and very powerful arrival, In spite of being in the shadows, upstaged by the floral arrangement, as it were, she represents renewing energy of light from darkness - very appropriate for this time of year as we move towards the height of light at Summer Solstice...then prepare ourselves for the onset of the dark half of the year.


It was then I started to rethink a more appropriate title to express this mood of celebrating the generous, renewing energy of the planet. I have always loved the poem by Doreen Valiente, “The Charge of the Goddess”, which aligns humans fairly and squarely as one with Nature, ourselves Nature and Goddess. Initially I had thought “flourishing” to be a good subtitle, until I considered the three elements that this quilt in coming to fruition recognised: the resilience of Earth’s natural processes, regardless of what we as the human race do to the creatures of the planet; the resilience of the quilt to hold out in one piece to be finished; and my own personal resilience in dealing with what has come to be a life-threatening health situation. Hence the subtitle became “Resilience”. This word has moved from one I had previously identified as meaning “putting up with, tolerating an unpleasant situation” to one of finding personal power and integrity in the face of difficult situations.

The poem, attached to the back of the quilt, is shown here.

I who am the beauty of the green earth and the white moon
among the stars and the mystery of the waters,
I call upon your soul to arise and come unto me
For I am the soul of Nature that gives life to the Universe.
From me all things proceed and unto me they must return.
Let my worship be in the heart that rejoices, for behold,
all acts of love and pleasure are my rituals.
Let there be beauty and strength, power and compassion,
honour and humility, mirth and reverence within you.
And you who seek to know me, know that your seeking and yearning will avail you not, unless you know the Mystery.
For if that which you seek, you find not within yourself, you will never find it without.
For behold I have been with you from the beginning, and I am
that which is attained at the end of desire.
(Doreen Valiente)
This quilt is for sale: POA

Next blog: more preparation for Rob’s personal story quilt. Blessed be!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Gestating the personal story quilt for Robyn: firstly the dove

Drew up the first draft for Rob’s quilt last week, with ideas starting to gestate about how to represent her special symbols of colours of the rainbow and chakras, the vesica piscis, the white dove of Iona and the Celtic interlaced triangle, within the context of communion with others in her life, love of community and a personal spiritual journey. The symbols are manifesting quite easily, the most basic and essential is the full moon. Placement, as usual will come later.

The dove as symbol providing meaning goes back a long way, as indicating the spirit of divine presence among us – and is of course, peace symbol. The power for creation of women, represented by Canaanite, Sumerian and Israelite and Mediterranean mother goddesses known by various names in multiple places as Ishtar, Inanna, Asherah, Tanit, Astarte, Anat and Aphrodite was symbolically envisioned as the dove, with many adorning temples and shrines. A goddess statue from ancient Crete is shown wearing a dove crown.[1] And so many goddess images from antiquity have wings. I’m thinking particularly of Isis, who shelters all and sheltered her beloved son, Horus, beneath her wings (a myth later morphed into the Mary and Jesus story). In Hebrew the word for ‘spirit’ is in the feminine form (‘ruarch’), and goddess embodiment known as Shekinah, queen of wisdom. Aspects of these stories incorporated the symbol of the dove into Christian symbolism for the immaculate conception of the godhead by mother Mary, and the dove hovering over the head of Jesus at his baptism.[2]

The dove, or pigeon was the first domesticated bird, and was believed to be a messenger, a go-between for communicating with divinity, destiny with a strong association with wishful prayer – communication occurring on many levels. Doves were associated with oracular divination, often in the context of romantic relationships and fertility. I have read that there are images of a dove being re-born from the mouth of a dolphin, later transposed into the story of Jonah being ‘born’ from a whale, his name meaning dove in Hebrew, ‘ionah’ being a cognate of the Sanskrit word ‘yoni’, which later became known in Latin as the ‘vesica piscis’. It of course represents female pubic area
 (often referred to as a woman’s ‘sexuality’), but much more importantly the sacredness of a woman’s body through which life is endlessly renewed, symbolizing faith, hope, joy and love that is at the heart of the lived human experience.[3] The root form ‘io’ has connotations with and means ‘moon’ in the Egyptian lexicon, yet another connection to the monthly blood ritual that is the basis of continuing human life.[4]

Needless to say there are too many historical and cultural associations to enumerate, let alone explain in this short description of my creative process. What is important is Rob’s association through the time she spent in retreat on the Island of Iona, the abbey of St Columba – whose name means dove in Latin. I am in the dark as to why this person received his name, and how the symbol of the white dove relates to him (apart from his name). Maybe because he brokered some sort of peace among the feuding barbarian tribes of the place the Romans called Hibernia and had long wanted to conquer, with the story of Jesus, by building on existing pagan rites and symbols – a common approach to colonization, even today. Since his name Colum-cille (kille) means ‘Dove of the Church’, it may be another appropriation of women’s reproductive power for renewing life to fertilizing a spiritual renewal in pagan lands, though the symbolism is normally attributed (perhaps in hindsight) as being a messenger of the Christian god of peace, with the need to be peaceful in a fairly barbarous environment.

Although not domesticated as such, I am constantly reminded of doves in my own garden. I feel blessed by regular visits from the regal grey and white wonga pigeon and brown pigeon doves living down in the bush, often several times a day. Of course, I do feed them because I love to see their colours up close; maybe that’s a form of domestication in the wild. I have come to think that they actually ‘call’ to me when they are ready for a snack – and not just the doves, the king parrots and crimson rosellas too! I’m little concerned that the little ‘dove’ I have drawn in the draft reminds me of the Twitter symbol (eeek), but maybe that’s not a bad thing, since it’s role is to facilitate communication in the wider world of the ‘social media’. I also know that this is just a sketch, and the dove will go on morphing as more ideas and connections are made.

[1] She can be seen in my PhD thesis on page 154, and is taken from the Awesome power series, 1989, published by Swinging Bridges Visuals, Australia, and produced by Rosanne DeBats & thea Rainbow (later thea Gaia).
[2] Iona Miller, 2016, Ancestors and archetypes,
[3] Barbara Walker, 1983, The woman’s encyclopedia of myths and secrets, HarperSanFrancisco
[4] Barbara Walker, 1988, The woman’s dictionary of symbols and sacred objects, Harper & Row: San Francisco. For me personally at the moment ‘IO’ stands for ‘immuno-oncology’, which has been my treatment for advanced melanoma over the last 9 months.

Friday, November 18, 2016

The living Universe: Matrix of creation

One of the most compelling glyphs relating humankind’s understanding of our place in the Universe story is carved into a rock surface at the end of the long passage leading into the Neolithic mound of New Grange in County Meath, Ireland.  The glyph is symbolic of the Earth’s relationship to the movement round Sun as observed by early peoples living in that place.[1] The symbol, looking like the petals of a daisy was clearly based on astronomical observation, in particular the rising of the Sun on the day of the Solstice in mid-winter, hence representing the promise of life returning - a predictable reward for the belief in and expectation of new life based on such observations. Its eight ‘petals’ clearly identify the change in natural phenomena over eight annular seasons. Returning to the original symbol of the omphalos, the navel of the Earth (mentioned in a previous post), the representation of the glyph on the quilt with appliqué is partially covered in a mesh of fine net, perhaps represented also at new Grange in the grids of the rock carvings. Below the glyph, the Sun’s giant orb glows in the distance and our fecund blue planet puts forth a carpet of flowers in the shape of the ‘vesica piscis’, the sacred oval/almond (or mandorla) shape of the Yoni, the female vulva and uterus. Mother Earth is flourishing in response to this deep relationship with Sun. And the pull of Moon in her orbit, giving us the ebb and flow of the tides, is shown in the waves beneath the blue planet – and the Pleiades are also associated with water in the Australian Indigenous tradition. Other prehistoric traditions used the lines of the meander (or zigzag or ‘M’ sign) to represent water, which I considered, but preferred the ‘flow’ over the geometric for this composition.[2]
Final placement of the Pleiades cluster was never really in doubt; it had to be central, though the means for representing the Seven Sisters in fabric was very elusive. I discarded the grid-like construction on netting, inspiration for which came from the grids carved into stone at New Grange, and went back to images I had researched. In the end I decided to use gossamer-type fabric, with a sheen and rainbow threads running through it, which had a feeling of distant bodies glowing, as though covered in shimmering icicles. I used the image of Nut, Egyptian Goddess of the sky who swallows the Sun at night and re-births it everyday in the dedication on the back of the quilt. Nut reminds us to leave space for the Mystery of this unending cycle of dark and light in the weaving of our lives.[3] This is the quote I included:
By the reckoning of the Living Universe cosmology, all things – all beings – including stars, planets, humans, animals, plants, rocks, and rivers – are both expression and agent of the spirit, each with its place and purpose in an epic journey. Earth and the material universe of human experience are more than the spirit’s creation; they are its manifestation. The spirit is in the world, and the world is in the spirit. [4]

Below is the finished piece, measuring 940 x 705mms. I believe that calling it The living Universe: Matrix of creation, reiterates Jan’s spiritual connection to the universe. This is the final post for this quilt. Next quilt blog: Charge of the Goddess.

[1] Martin Brennan, 1994, The stones of time: Calendars, sundials and stone chambers of ancient Ireland, Inner Traditions International: Vermont
[2] Judy Foster and Marlene Derlet, 2013, Invisible women of prehistory: Three million years of peace, six thousand years of war, Spinifex: Melbourne
[3] Amy Sophia Marashinksy, 1994, The Goddess oracle, HarperCollins: London
[4] David Korten, 2015, Change the story change the future: a living economy for a living earth, Berrett-Koehler: SanFrancisco

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Other symbols requested by Jan

This is the almost 'final' post regarding the symbols used to express Jan’s understanding of her relationship with the bigger Universe story. There is another, which is my inclusion of understanding the Universe story. This discusses the inclusion of Jan’s birth sign and her love of fireworks – and more specifically, the way we see ourselves in relation to our own star, the Sun. These elements bring us closer to home, our planet which we call Earth. It was difficult to decide about both form and placement for the crab as the birth sign of Cancer. I researched many of the renditions online (as I’d done with the Pleiades), and the two strong life-grabbing pincers of the crab seemed the most important feature. But, the question remained about where to place them on the background. In terms of composition, it seemed appropriate to have them hold the orbs of the moon phases and planets – and that’s where they are positioned. The symbol for the fireworks came about in response to an image in a photo I’d taken, of the sunlight shining through the leaves of a succulent. The moment of explosion rendered through reverse appliqué, and reiterated in the beading through the centres of the night-sky blue floral print behind the Earth. Here, I am describing the process, but hopefully the features thus described will be recognised when the final version of the quilt is uploaded!

Sunday, November 13, 2016

The Pleiades star cluster

The stars in the cluster known as the Pleiades are considered to be sibling stars in both myth and science.[1] They were apparently ‘born’ from the same cloud of gas some 100 million years ago, though they have evolved at different rates due to their different mass. Comprised of seven main stars that are visible to the naked eye. In Greek mythology they represented the seven daughters of the mythological figures of Atlas and Pleione, and each were given names and complex stories associating them with the pantheon of seducing gods, especially Zeus. They tell tales that underpin this mainly anthropocentric worldview as a means for explaining (mansplaining?) human behaviour in its relationship to the world of natural phenomena.

Then there are many cross-cultural stories, originating in prehistoric, pre-Neolithic cultures passed on down the millennia and created around loss and return, through which the strength, power and primal source of women is expressed and revered.[2] Developed in association with observation of seasonal changes in the natural world many have been forgotten, but some are still maintained within contemporary Indigenous cultures. In the Northern Hemisphere the first sighting of the Pleiades above the horizon in May signalled the season of spring and the beginning of the sailing season for maritime fishing and trade and the seasonal planting of crops.  In Celtic folklore the first showing of the cluster above the horizon in late May gave cause for the festival of life returning; and their disappearance in November the festival of death (Hallowe'en, or Samhain, which later became All Souls Day). Their movement across the night sky was symbol of the life cycle of life-in-death-in life, celebrated at the two Solstices. From the Crone aspect of Goddess cultures, the Pleiades are the seven judges of one’s life activities at the end of life, known as Kritikas (meaning razor in Greek and from which we get the word ‘critical’). It is the job of these sisters to assess one’s place in the after-life. Such concepts relating to end of life judgment were held in pre-Vedic India, in the archaic traditions of Egypt and no doubt other areas of the Middle East. The seven branches of the menorah (which translates as ‘moon priestesses’, and which were traditionally decorated with typical female genital symbols, lilies and almonds) may have represented the seven sisters.[3]

For those of us who live in the South the seasons are reversed, since May takes us into the winter season of dormancy and underground activities. In a imaginary, or a ‘mode of perception, in which all of the world is alive with spirit’, creating a lore  that situates Australian Indigenous peoples in deep spiritual relationship to all creatures and landscapes and celebrates the harmonious relationship between humans and their natural environment, the behaviour of the protagonists nevertheless has extraordinary similarities to the stories of the Pleiades evolved in other cultures.[4] In Australia the sighting of the Seven Sisters from dusk until dawn signals the time of growing coldness, associated with frosts on the ground, and the ending of the warmer months, so the narrative has the young women as very beautiful, their bodies sparkling with icicles. They refuse the courtship of amorous young men of another tribe, who tempt them with fresh honey, but when they are refused, pine away and die. Two of the sisters are abducted by a fiery Ancestor spirit, who tries to melt their icicles, which only results in putting out his fire but explains why there are two less bright stars in the cluster. In this season the Meamei, as they are called, break off some ice and throw it to Earth, which is used to numb the nose before it is pierced in the memory of the seven sisters who once dwelt on country before becoming glittering celestial bodies. There are other associations deriving from this story held in lore.[5] Here is another source used.[6]

Contemplating, cogitating, ruminating over how to represent this significant cluster in human cultural traditions I decided to listen to Jimmy Little’s song ‘Seven sisters’ from his album Resonate: “…we cannot do great things, but only small things with great love.” After toying with different fabrics and positions, feeling a little reassured by the lyrics and more akin to the story of the sisters, I am encouraged to keep holding the space in which the cluster form will take shape. This image shows one possible rendition, one that was discarded for reasons I’ll explain later.

[1] In the process of this research I began to understand where the names for the models of many cars have originated. And when I look into the star cluster of the Pleiades I realise that the design for the logo of the popular Suburu range of cars is based on these wonderful seven sisters (though there only six in the logo), whose story goes way back prior to vehicle automation. 
 [2] Munya Andrews, 2005, The seven sisters of the Pleiades: Stories from around the world, Spinifex Press: Melbourne
[3] Barbara Walker, 1988, The woman’s dictionary of symbols and sacred objects, Harper & Row: San Francisco
 [4] Joanna Lambert, 1993, Wise women of the dreamtime: Aboriginal tales of ancestral powers, Inner Traditions International: Vermont (pp. 44-50)
[5] ibid
[6] Antonella Riem Natale, 2012, The Pleiades and the dreamtime: an Aboriginal Women’s story and other ancient world traditions, Coolabah, no. 9, Centre for Australian Studies: University of Barcelona.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Life of a star

Of course our most important 'star', that nearest to us is the Sun. It seemed obvious that our life-giving Sun needed inclusion in the story, which then had me thinking about the whole process of how stars are created and meet their demise - ultimately! I had never considered astronomy as a possible career, or even as a hobby, but my PhD involving exploration into the seasonal cycles for the Southern Hemisphere brought me a little closer to the bigger picture of the Universe - I admit, derived from a spiritual quest rather than a scientific adventure - like that of the Red Dwarf team! Many years ago, while looking for inspiration for another (yet to be finished) quilt, I had been given a large, coffee-table book by a friend called "Philip's Atlas of the Universe" by Sir Patrick Moore, touted as "the best introduction to astronomy" by the Journal of the British Astronomical Association. I first turned to it to look for colour and possible ways to use the many hand-dyed fabrics I have in my collection, which are awash with vermilions and pinks, greens and yellows all merging into one another - fabrics which have not yet found a place to manifest their beautiful potential. It's amazing how hand-dyeing can result in the photos taken  a starburst.  I then found page 174-5, entitled "The Lives of the Stars" (no, it was not a Women's Weekly), with a neat summary of the whole process, from birth to death, complete with images. the latter gave me all sorts of licence to play around with colours, and I had already started a small collection of circle templates to cut from - again using the fusion technique. So I was away, many small planets came to life in front of me. Later I would choose which ones would be used and where positioned.

This is my summary of a star's life, as gleaned from the Philip's Atlas (2003, London). Starting with a collapsing cloud of nebula material, stars begin to form with the rising temperatures, revealing a cluster as the associated gases are blown away. The cluster is gradually disrupted and becomes a loose stellar association. Stars with high mass are of the solar type, remaining for a very long period until they start running out of hydrogen ‘fuel’, causing them to expand and become a ‘red giant’ (not dwarf!). Following the gradual loss of the outer layers, resulting in the formation of a planetary nebula, the core of the original star is left as a white dwarf that continues to glow until the last of its heat is lost. It then becomes a cold, dead, black (not red!) dwarf. A more massive star may explode as a supernova at the ‘red giant’ stage, possibly ending as a 'neutron star' or 'pulsar'; if it is so dense that light cannot escape from it, it may produce a black hole. Many of these stages of star formation are included in Jan's quilt.

In reading about the various stages and types of stars in my Philip’s Atlas, showing images neatly numbered from one to fourteen, I am drawn to some of the small leftover scraps showing irresistible potential to represent another ‘stage’, maybe another galaxy. They are just too interesting to ignore. When all these stages in the life of a star have been allocated a virtual position in the ‘outer space’ of the background, (nothing is fully fixed in place yet) I go back to what seemed to be most important in Jan’s love of stars and galaxies, the cluster known as the Pleiades. I have been searching symbols on the internet, but so far the means for its representation has eluded me, which is becoming a source of frustration and also a tantalising challenge. I also need to consider how this cluster may be seen from the Southern Hemisphere, when so much of recorded knowledge emerges from a Northern Hemispheric point of view. Maybe there is no difference?

Monday, October 3, 2016

Symbols emerging: Moon phases

After quite a long break away from my blogspot (due to health issues), I'm returning to the creation of a story quilt made for Jan Roberts as a commission, where I am picking up from the previous post entitled 'Background noises'. I'm now describing the stages of populating the background with the symbols Jan had requested be included.

When it’s time to start working with the symbols for the surface of the quilt, their shape, design and placement, I find that these three aspects constantly interact with each other, creating a lot of chaos, indecision and unrest – all part of the process, I keep remembering. Perhaps this is a Beltane moment in creating, when everything is active and in constant motion.

The symbolic images of a Cancer birth sign and the Pleiades star cluster, requested by Jan, are filled with meaning and imagery, both visual and metaphoric. Then there is the moon’s cycle that gives rise and fall to the tides, I know to be very important to Jan’s spirituality.  As are the various phases of the moon, Earth and Sun relationship is an essential element; and then I start to think about the life cycle of a star. Fireworks do seem to be an appropriate expression of the creation of the Universe, though at the moment their representation is the least of my concerns. Sparks have been ignited from my reading of the stories that abound about this seemingly quite significant star cluster, the Pleiades, but the way to represent these seven sister stars remains elusive, and actually does not become manifest until the very last.[1] Meantime I continue to do the research into the content Jan would like to see represented in her story of the Universe quilt, seeking visual form for these symbols – colour, shape and size – as well as how they connect to her life here in the continent we call Australia.

As is often the case, I decide to start with the moon phases. The four phases I propose to include are the full dark, the new moon, a half moon waxing into a full moon. Beginning with a large empty pre-cut circle of calico, I start by overlapping many tiny triangles, another symbol of the female principle in Creation, cut from a wide selection of pale fabrics – laces, synthetics, scraps cut from scarves, all prepared with a fusible agent on the back, and then ironed into place. This way the face of the moon is built up; it is very large, but scale is not something I can deal with in the process of making the symbols, which will likely depend on final placements. I have also cut a full black moon from a single hand-dyed piece, and again I remain prepared that it may not be the final size - though both do so in the end! 

Like the symbol of the pubic triangle and the Female Divinity, the plan to attach the moon using a piece of netting derives from ancient story and understandings. The symbol of the net is very ancient, hidden in stories from around the world, the most significant for me being the fact that a net was placed over the ‘omphalos’ at Delphi – and can be seen in sculptures that represent the ‘navel’ of the world in various places around the Mediterranean, as well as in Aboriginal rock carvings. The mystery of the transformative spirit in Creation is symbolised by these multiple ‘geodisic markers’ of the birthplace of the Universe. Nets are embedded in so many stories of Creation told by peoples around the world. Their physical construction represents the apparent contradiction of holding while also releasing, of exploring while containing. Metaphorically, they tell tales of the subtle and versatile, presence and the invisible, where past, present and future, time and space meld to make Creation manifest.

[1] Munya Andrews, (2014 ed), The Seven Sisters of the Pleiades: stories from around the world, Spinifex:Melbourne

Delphi omphalos

Delos omphalos, which alternatively has the snake forming the creative 'net'

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Windows in the bush (630x330mms or 2’1”x 1’1”)

It has been over six months since last post, due to another perhaps more serious health issue that, since February 2016 has resulted in my attending the Day Suite every three weeks at the Skin Cancer Clinic of Westmead Hospital, for immunotherapy treatment. Tomorrow will be the twelfth infusion, and my hope is that it will, if not destroy the melanoma lesions in my liver and lung, at least keep them in check - as it seems to be doing for now! I've decided to post the story of the little quilt completed for Sheila in April, before having finished the earlier story of Jan's Universe story quilt, because that is quite a longer story, and may take more thought and time to pull together. So here is the creation story for a quilt commissioned by Sheila at the beginning of the year....and more to come soon with a look back at 2015 for Jan's story quilt.

As I go through my rather well ordered stash of fabrics I think to myself that I must have thought I was going to live forever – or perhaps have many future lives. The colour combinations of the fabrics as they are grouped in the plastic tubs remind me that when I first saw them I most likely had a project in mind, which then floated off into the ether. I started quilting (and collecting) in 1994, 22 years ago, so my stash is quite extensive! I think it is indicative of my birth number. Being a number one, I am typically an initiator, a generator of many ideas, and dreams maybe. The latest quilt for Sheila began by resurrecting a collection of small swatches made several years ago to try out the technique of raw-edge appliqués, both positive and in reverse: that is, applying shapes to the surface, and cutting back to reveal the fabric hidden beneath. These swatches of gum-leaf shapes and colours were made a while back now, but seemed to fit Sheila’s general idea for a ‘tree scape’ - something to celebrate her love of trees in the bush. I had started with the idea of more distant landscape, but when I showed the sample swatches to Sheila, she liked them. So, the focus zoomed in, and the more serious work of design and further construction began.

More swatches were made, using the same fabrics from my collection that I’d begun with: hand dyed cottons, many by Dianne Johnston of Queensland. I wanted the leaves to continue to dance in all their shapes and sizes, in the light of bright sunshine and mottled shade, coming to the forefront and blending back into the dense Australian bush. I wanted it to show the rather wild variety of colours each leaf goes through until they finally settled as leaf litter to nourish the Earth that gave them life and form. Here is the final result: a leaf medley for Sheila, which I called “See through Me”.

As a result of the quilting process, gum-leaf outlines are scattered across the back of the quilt. For the dedication I decided to use a screen-print done many years ago by friend Sue Swanson, based on an image from the “Swinging Bridges” series of Goddess images, published by dear friend thea Gaia (then Rainbow) in the 1980s.  Originally carved from Phoenician ivory in the 8th century BCE, she has been stored in the Iraq Museum, Baghdad, (- and sadly, may no longer exist). She is now printed onto fabric, has an open face, showing a serene and all-knowing smile.  As a goddess worshipped by early Middle Eastern peoples, ‘She’, (the one who is known by ten thousand names), represented the power of the feminine principle in divinity, and was given the attribution of being the Creatrix capable of seeding all possibility according to her wisdom. 

For this quilt I chose to honour the spirit of “She-of-Ten-Thousand-Names” with name she was known by, Astarte, she who is the See-r, with the additional invocation from the publication: “seeing with her vision, following her line of sight – we reach beyond boundaries.” It is an invitation to realise that 'there is more than meets the eye'; to see more, allow more in through the eyes and become more finely attuned to 'seeing through' by becoming more open to the reality of our interdependence with the natural world. It is the leaves from trees that give us the oxygen we need to breathe, for example, rather than trees as commodities from which to make reckless financial gain, one way or another. Derived from other more ancient wisdoms of human life in relation to the Earth as our home that I had come across in researching ideas for Sheila’s quilt, I included this thought: “The land does not belong to us…we belong to the land”.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Quilt for Caren's son and daughter-in-law's wedding

This is the quilt made for Caren as a wedding present for her son and his partner, married on November 6, 2015. The American "barnyard" block is used - very simple and effective...can be done using a jelly-roll or just simple 2 1/2" squares as a starting point, to end up with 6 1/12" block unfinished. Though it is a scrappy quilt design, Caren is a working visual artist, so has a very keen eye for colour and placement. She wanted primarily blue overtones, but we nevertheless included with some stronger blocks, such as those in red and darker blues such as seen here, with lighter tones for contrast. It was a 'queen' (maybe 'king') size quilt, with the final measurement of 3' 1" (940cms) long by 2' 4" (705cms) wide. the top looked fabulous, with blue borders, and the backing added drama (pity, no pic). It was commercially quilted. I heard that the newly weds loved it.