Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Journal Quilts and More Ferns

The first of my journal quilts this year is inspired by memories of a very difficult period of my life: my husband died eleven years ago and during the first two years after his death I experienced financial hardship, problems with the house which needed repairs I couldn't afford and depression.  I also neglected friendships and became rather hermit-like.  If the piece above, which I have called Dark, looks grim, it is because it is meant to.  I've also deliberately used coarse fabrics - various scrims, including jute scrim, raw edges and silk carrier rods - the black-dyed rods it occurs to me are like huge blocks of something barricading me in from the outside world, which is exactly what happened...

The second phase is where I was beginning to cope - living very abstemiously, paying off debts, decluttering the house and applying for a renovation grant.  However, another setback occurred when I wa diagnosed with endometrial cancer.  This left me feeling raw and vulnerable, hence the title of the second piece, called Raw:

The third piece is after I had been operated on and had undergone radiotherapy and the work on the house had begun.  I was also financially more stable by this time and the title, Mending, describes the time when I was beginning to find things enjoyable again, and becoming less isolated, repairing old friendships and developing new ones.  Hence the brighter colours.  I've also used materials and techniques which suggest healing - the dyed mesh is fabric used for wound dressings; I've used darning and knots.

The fourth journal quilt is called Light, and describes more or less where I am now, having shed some of the previous burdens: treatment for cancer was successful.  The house is still a work in progress, but only in terms of bits needing redecorating - all the serious stuff has been done.  And although I apparently earn well below the national average I can live comfortably within my income.  I am enjoying life and feel comfortable in my own skin for the first time in a long while.

The final project for this month has been a small quilt I made for a display at the Quilt Museum in York of work from our region of the Quilters Guild.  The challenge was to make a long narrow quilt in tints and shades of one colour only.  And somehow I found myself visualising ferns:  here's the quilt - it will be on display in the Aldwark Gallery for the months of July and August: