Monday, 20 January 2014
You may have seen it at Festival of Quilts. It was also featured on The Quilt Show in the US as one of a small selection of art quilts. And it won the Art Quilt prize and Sylvia Critcher's Judges Choice at the Harrogate show. It was originally supposed to go to Uttoxeter in April but took longer than I expected (a lot longer in fact - one of my quilting friends kept sending me emails headed "The Curse of the Dragonfly") It's actually work towards - hopefully - an exhibition by the recently-formed Etcetera group, on the theme of transition and is the first of a series of pieces on this theme.
It's gestation - as is usual with me - took a long time, partly because the format (landscape rather than portrait) was a requirement for the first group piece and it took time to get to grips with it). After chucking around all sorts of ways of exploring it finally came up with the somewhat obvious idea of huge dragonfly (the quilt is 64" x 48" and it bleeds off the edge with reverse applique wings based fairly closely on real dragonfly wings. Obvious but I thought it would work visually. Ok - let's be honest - I thought it might look spectacular and people might not walk straight past it as happened with the rather quieter Sea Edges at the NEC last year. One doesn't like to see all that effort go unnoticed.
Though the project started as an investigation of the natural history of the dragonfly (having been fascinated ever since an Emperor Dragonfly accompanied me on a walk through Wytham Woods many years ago) the whole thing quickly acquire a symbolic significance. Dragonflies can spend up to five years going through all the various stages it takes to grow and spread their wings. As someone who, for various reasons I won't go into here, was unable fully to spread her creative wings until later in life, this had a particular significance for me. Added to that dragonflies in some cultures are a symbol of self-realisation and suddenly the whole thing became powerfully meaningful...
For those of you who like to know these things, the background is simply patchwork with stitch-drawn pictures of the various stages in dragonfly development. The dragonfly itself is cut-back applique in silk/metallic, silk and nylon crystal organzas, all hand-dyed. The whole thing machine-appliqued and quilted. It was the cutting back that took the time. And I am still finding bit of "confetti" around the house even now