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!

Rags to Riches

This quilt is made from scraps of old shirts, dresses, pyjamas, etc., what some might consider rags, and I have made them into a colourful quilt using a design called the kaleidoscope.  it is a favourite of mine, though some people consider it too complicated  and messy.  Like people!  We can be complicated and messy, colourful, and made up of  lots of different bits and pieces of experiences, memories, things we have learnt, inherited, skills, faults etc.

In my series of quilts on the theme of money, this represents those who come from nothing and get rich through sheer hard work and skilful use of every opportunity.  While I was making it, the piles of pieces and half made blocks looked like a messy nothing, like some of our efforts in life might seem, but when finished it looks like a rich tapestry– the rich tapestry of life, to use a cliché.

While I was making this quilt, I had a strange experience.  It was going slowly;  I was working on the blue and grey blocks, and I was finding it difficult, un-inspired. Time was running out before my show, and this was the last quilt to get finished.  And then I got some bad news about a relative who was ill, and I became doubly anxious and stressed.  But surprisingly, the effect on the quilt was that it suddenly became alive, exciting, full of movement and colour!  I was very amazed.  My relative recovered, my show was a success, and someone even understood all this from looking at this quilt!  I haven’t been able to part with this quilt, it has a lot of personal meaning for me now, and it hangs in my living room. It reminds of  hope out of anguish, a meaningful design out of bits and pieces.  Not to give up.