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. 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.
 Munya Andrews, (2014 ed), The Seven Sisters of the Pleiades: stories from around the world, Spinifex:Melbourne
Delos omphalos, which alternatively has the snake forming the creative 'net'