Monday, August 26, 2019

The finished Uluru quilt: “Makarrata”

Earlier this year, on 29 April, I started a blog post about the creation of the quilt from a jellyroll of Indigenous style prints that I’d bought in Alice Springs, as part of our journey many years ago to places that we Aussies lump together as “the Top End”. I can now reveal that the final quilt is resting on my own bed, and I am so delighted to be resting underneath the “Makarrata” quilt on these cold nights. It started out in name as “The Uluru quilt”, and since then I have decided to call it “The Makarrata quilt”, the term used in the “Uluru statement from the heart” of 2017, meaning ‘coming together after a struggle’ – such a discussion cannot be put blithely aside by our ‘governors’, as though such a thought was some sort of ‘invasion’ into a sovereign territory that had not already been invaded. On a personal note, it is also relevant to how this quilt finally emerged, after having been put to one side whilst I was dealing with breast cancer, followed closely by treatment for Stage IV melanoma over the past three and more years.

The quilting design I originally started with has been continued into the borders the colour of which reminds me (almost - in reality, much redder!)) of the sands of the 'red centre'. They were added on to make the dimensions for a queen-sized bed. I love snuggling under this blanket of fiery warmth at night and waking up to the bright colours. It might have to come off when summer hits! (By coincidence, I have a very bright linen set that seems to go very well with the quilt's colours, as shown here.)

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Season of the Quickening FOR SALE

Heading up to the cross quarter day[1] of Imbolc (August 8 this year, but traditionally remembered on August 2), I’ve started to notice small changes in the vegetation. Lots of native blooms, especially the native varieties of wattle (acacia) are starting to show their colours, moving from green into all shades of pale to vibrant yellows, as our southern orientation of planet Earth takes us gradually back towards the sun - and into the fullness of warmth and light. For me, this season is a signal of reassurance that life’s energies are returning for another cycle. For the cycle of creativity as expressed through the natural cycles, it is the breath of fresh air that signals renewing energy and inspiration to create.

The quilt I made for this early pre-spring equinox revival in nature is called “Season of the quickening”, a term that I understand was used originally in farming practice, in reference to the lambing season as spring approached. It’s a large quilt, (140cms long and 93cms wide), and it is made from hand-dyed cotton fabrics, using a combination from the more conventional stripping with free-cutting techniques, to evoke a sense of continuity and change experienced in the cycle of Earth’s seasonal expressions. The design started with the idea of looking through a shuttered (remember venetian blinds?) window frame out into the bush that is starting to regenerate and come into bloom after the dormant winter months, and skies are lighting up to their wide and  intense blue. Now, many years on, I have to return to the comments made in my PhD thesis about the grid formation at the bottom of the quilt, where the reddish strands are interwoven through the yellow and blue patches. No doubt I was experimenting with technique. I think, put simply, I was engaging with the space of the creative void and the possibility of change as the ongoing act of all Creation.

There is a strong resonance with the earlier quilt made for the season of Imbolc for my Masters thesis, but the second version for the Southern Hemisphere is much more daring, even bolder and wilder. The earlier one is also based on the concept of light returning, this time through a window in the form of a square of 16 conjoined panels with a Celtic knot influence, looking like the casement window in a medieval building. The influence was the Goddess Brigid, (she, who is made a saint with the coming of Christianity). She keeps the flame alive all through winter, and as Virgin carries in her the returning life energy. After much unexpected organic flow, the work becomes a banner for Imbolc, with reference to wattle blossoms, warming fires, and the return of light. It has left these shores and now hangs at Letterwalton House, in county Argyll, Scotland.

[1] A cross quarter day marks and celebrates what the name indicates: the halfway mark between Solstice and Equinox. There are four of those in the year, and so there are four cross quarter days: Imbloc, Beltaine, Lammas and Samhain (usually known as Hallowe’en from the Christian Church’s apellation).