The Net

The picture above is of my quilt wall hanging called “The Net”.  Some people think it is my best work.  I designed it from a photo of a fisherman mending his net, but my design shows the net underwater.  The net appears to swirl and billow out, moving in the swell, and you can see the light falling through the water from the surface.  If you look at it  you can just see a net design, or if you half close your eyes, the shapes between the net strings are the shape of fish in the net, swimming up to the light at the surface.  Lots and lots of fish, of all sizes. Can you see them?

In the gospels, there are stories of Jesus doing a miracle for his fishermen disciples, who have been fishing all night but caught nothing.  He tells them to cast their net into the deep water the other side, and when they draw it up it is so full of fish that they can hardly haul it ashore, and the nets starts to break.

I love this story.  On your own you can work hard but get nowhere, probably working within your comfort zone, in safe, familiar, shallow waters.  Jesus tells you to get out of your comfort zone, casting off into the deep, the unknown, the risky; but out of obedience and trust in him.  Then you get rewarded with miraculous, plentiful results!

All good, you think.  But what about the fish?  A whole shoal of them have swum into a net, at Jesus’ bidding, and are about to die.  No I am not arguing for strict vegetarianism here, though it has its point.  What I think happened here is that the fish swum voluntarily into the net, as a willing sacrifice, at their Saviour’s request.  For a sacrifice to be of any value, it has to be done willingly, not forced.  Sacrifice is not a concept at all appreciated in our “Me, me, me, instant gratification” type of society we live in.  It is really a forgotten concept.  But it is there in all of us as an instinct.  A mother, protecting her infant.  A father protecting his family.  Leaders protecting their tribes, soldiers dying for their country or their faith. And of course, Jesus sacrificed himself too, dying on the cross, for us, for mankind. He was willing to do what he asked the fish to do, what he asks his disciples to do.

Sometimes we need to make sacrifices, small or huge, willingly, in our lives.  It goes together with getting out of our comfort zone, casting out into the deep….. Huge rewards can come, both for us and for our family, society, nation, or whatever, if we do this.  Tiny rewards, if any, come if we always put ourselves and our needs first, and keep to a safe, comfortable lifestyle.

So my picture is about sacrifice, as well as the miraculous.  In deep, but beautiful waters. But people see different things in it.   I have made and sold three quilt versions of this work now, as well as several printed versions, and people have asked me to do more; they can’t get enough of it.   A surprise to me!

The Tree of Life

The “Tree of Life” is the final quilt in my series of the seven gifts God gives to the faithful in the Book of Revelation.  Jesus says:”To him that overcomes, I will give to eat of the Tree of Life, which is in the midst of Paradise.” (Rev 2:7).

The tree of life design appears in all cultures and ages; you will find it in Asian and Indian art, Persian carpets, in ancient Egyptian tombs, etc.  It symbolises life, fertility, immortality (in that the seed has to die in the ground for the tree to grow).  Its branches look like the arteries and veins in the human body, the life blood.  The pattern is also the same as the delta of a big river, so the river of life and the tree of life are closely related, the one needs the other.  In ancient Egypt, the date palm design symbolised royal power.

In Christianity, the tree of life appears in the Bible in the books of Genesis and Revelation.  In Genesis 2:9, it says: “The Tree of Life was in the midst of the garden (of Eden), and also the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.”  After the Fall, when Adam and Eve had eaten the forbidden fruit off the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, which they were not ready for yet, they had to be turned out of the Garden of Eden, in case they ate from the Tree of Life too, and became immortal.  An angel was placed with a flaming sword to guard the way to the Tree of Life (Gen 3:24).

Well, the whole history of mankind and redemption later, we find the Tree of Life again in the Book of Revelation, beside the River of Life: “with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves are for the healing of the nations.” (Rev 22:2).

It is comforting to know that the faithful won’t be forbidden to eat its fruit for ever.  It is one of the gifts given to those who overcome and persevere to the end. Also very comforting to know that its leaves will heal the nations, instead of them fighting and hating each other….  The whole situation of the Garden of Eden has been restored, and mankind back in its rightful place, but all on a bigger, more worldwide scale than in the beginning.

I feel a huge sense of relief and thanksgiving when I read this passage.  Everything is going to be all right, in the end, after all.

In my quilt of the tree of life, I have used twelve different coloured silks, for the twelve different kinds of fruit.  I wanted the design to be simple but striking, and also lively,  appealing and colourful, drawing you to it across the room.  I wanted it to have the joyfulness of running out into our garden through an orchard, with a deep blue sky and a rising-up sun, like I  used to do as a child.

Well, that is the last of my “Rev Sev” quilts, and here is a photo of them all together, as shown at Holy Trinity, Sloane Square at my solo exhibition there.

7 gifts or revelation

The White Stone

Continuing my series of the seven gifts given by God to the faithful, described in the early chapters of the Book of Revelation, we come to a favourite, the white stone.  The Bible text says: “To him who overcomes, I will give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it.”(Rev2:17).

Above is my quilt wall hanging of the white stone, which I decided was best portrayed as a diamond.  If you look into the heart of a diamond, you do see some white, but also flashes of bright colours and multiple reflections.  The quilt was very difficult to make, as the outside pieced triangles were big enough to manage to sew together, but as I got towards the centre, the pieces got smaller and smaller and very fiddly, especially as I was using a variety of different white fabrics, some of them shiny and some stretchy, or overlaid with organza, so very difficult to sew together neatly…..

Around the outside are machine-embroidered cyrillic letters, some of it mirror writing, which says “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, who was and is, and is to come.” I was surprised to find that my sewing machine offered a Cyrillic alphabet, and mirror writing, so I thought it would make an effective quilted border.

I submitted this work to the V&A Museum in London as part of a competition where you had to make a work inspired by an item in their collections, so I chose one of their large diamonds in their jewellery gallery.  I was astonished and thrilled when my work was accepted, and shown in an exhibition with other winners at the V&A.  I made sure to get all my friends go and see it, especially those who had been a bit snooty about me taking up quilting as a second career, in later life…..    I keep this work as a special piece now, can’t bear to sell it.  So it is the only unsold one left of my “Rev Sev”(Revelation Seven) series.

But back to the text.  Whereas crowns and thrones are a bit distant and grand feeling, being given a stone with your special name on it by Jesus feels a very intimate and special gift.  It says to me, “you are unique, special, prized and valued by Me,” which is the most amazing and wonderful feeling for one who has always felt a bit rubbish, not worth anything.  And the special new name on it will be revealing!  God knows me only too well, so I wonder what it will be.  “Much afraid” maybe, or “Forever putting your foot in it”!  A bit like the nickname given to the apostles James and John: “the sons of thunder”, because apparently they had quite a temper…..  All part of the diversity of us human beings, and all valued as such, creating variety, an interesting social mix, not a boring bland samey lot.  Worth remembering that, next time someone is annoying you at church, or doesn’t seem to fit in.

Anyway, I hope and pray I persevere to the end, and “overcome”,  to receive this precious gift from God.  Something akin to a big hug!


The Open Door into Heaven

The next artwork in my Seven Gifts in the Book of Revelation series is the open door into heaven.  Jesus says: “Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no man can shut.” (Rev 3:8).    Further on it says: “I looked, and behold, a door was opened into heaven.”(Rev 4:1).

There is something very intriguing about a door: if shut, what is beind it?  If half open, tantalising glimpses into another world can be seen…..  there is endless fascination in literature and art about doors.  The door to the Secret Garden, the wardrobe door  leading to the imaginary country of Narnia….   Cathedral doors, portals, grand entrances, are wonderfully decorated all over the world.  A door opening and giving a glimpse of heaven, how amazing!  John in the Book of Revelation is giving us some of his visionary glimpses through that door.

In my quilt on this title, I have tried to give the shimering effect of a door into heaven.  I try and have something of a “door into the next world” in most of my art.

In real life, how frustrating it is to feel doors shut against you.  You start really excited about a new project, only to have doors constantly shut on you.  Job rejection, failed test, unanswered emails, refusals to invest, turned down for a grant, not selected for an exhibition, don’t make it onto a short list, etc.  How wonderful therefore that God opens a door for us that no man can shut!

If we are finding it difficult sometimes to find that door opened for us, don’t forget those words in John’s Gospel, where Jesus says “I am the door.  Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture.”

Well, all you seekers and artists out there, I hope you find good pastures through the open door!



The Crown of Life and the Sapphire Throne.

The Crown of LifeNight Horizons

I thought I would continue with my series of quilts on the seven gifts given by God to the churches mentioned in the first few chapters of the Book of Revelation, –what my family refer to as my “Rev Sev Series”……

Above left is my “Crown of Life” and right is my “Sapphire Throne”.   Jesus says “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give you the Crown of Life.”(Rev 2:10).  Crowns don’t feature much in 21st Century life, but they come in a lot in the Book of Revelation.  I think our nearest phrase is that some work is someone’s “crowning glory”.  We do all want recognition for our endeavours in some way, so maybe getting a crown that is somehow full of life will be wonderful.  It is difficult to imagine, and I have depicted it as very colourful.

The sapphire throne comes from the text: “To him that overcometh, I will grant to sit with me on my throne.”  (Rev 3:21).  Elsewhere in Revelation it says there is a rainbow around the throne, and in Ezekiel the throne of God is described as being like sapphire, with a rainbow all around (Ezekiel 1:26-28).  So, in my depiction of the heavenly throne I have used mainly colours from the darker side of the rainbow.  I guess sitting on a throne is another way of expressing that you’ve “made it”….  Like being on the top of the podium at an Olympic event.  I am glad I wouldn’t be alone on the throne though, a bit scarey…..



The Morning Star

This is one of my favourite quilts, which I have made twice, for friends of mine.  One of them wanted an artwork to go opposite their bed to help them feel positive when they woke up in the mornings.   It is one of my Seven Gifts or Revelation series, mentioned in my earlier blogpost about Angels.  Seven gifts are offered to the Christians in the seven churches mentioned in the first few chapters of the Book or Revelation, as a reward for remaining faithful right to the end.  Also, at the end of the book, in Chapter 22 verse 16, Jesus says “I am the bright and morning star.”

The bright star breaks through the darkness of the night, which is already getting to the pale grey of early dawn.  It could also depict the Resurrection, which also happened in the early hours.  Not being an early morning person myself, I fear sometimes I may end up missing the whole thing! The only times I see the dawn is if I havent got to bed yet, or am still trying to get off to sleep, so not usually feeling at my best…..  Hope I have captured the light and the moment OK, despite that.


Well, I had a few encouraging comments etc., for my new blog site and first ever blog, (on angels).  One commenter even said my artwork was breathtaking!  So I am feeling encouraged to have a go at another blog.   

Today I was so excitied to be starting a new quilt.  I’ve done the design, worked out the shapes and sizes on squared paper, chosen the fabrics, but today I actually cut the pieces.  I feel very excited when I get to cut the peices, then the work is really on the go, no turning back….  This new quilt is the fourth in a new series I am working on using modern rainbow designs.  I seem to be obsessed with rainbows at the moment; my new flat is done up in a rainbow colour scheme, I even dream about them. So I thought I would work rainbows out of my system, artistically speaking, by doing a whole series of them.

Rainbows are beautiful, joyful and enticing, and not just for children.  I once drove miles down the M5 into a complete double rainbow.  A rainbow is the sign of the promise given by God to Noah after the great flood, in the first book of Bible, and it comes in again in the last book of the Bible, – the fulfillment of the promise,  where Jesus is described as having a rainbow around his throne.   

Countries and movements use the rainbow in their flags, to show the hope, joy and diversity inherent in the rainbow symbol.  I am happy to share the optimism of the rainbow in my series of art quilts.  I hope I do it justice!

So, off to work more on this new quilt.  Photos of this new series in progress soon I hope.  Watch this space!