New Beginnings

This quilt is called “Incandescence” because it looks like masses of light and flames bursting out from the centre.  But it could also be called “In the Beginning, God….”,  the first few words of the Bible.  That is because it looks like a self-starting, outward-moving design, constantly giving forth, growing, creating.   And a totally new beginning.

I’ve just finished moving house.  Exhausting!  (and apologies for no new postings for a while).  I had definitely accumulated too much stuff over the years. Had to throw out a whole lot of things representing long past lives, projects never completed or even started, souvenirs, even going  back to childhood. Things I hadn’t been able to let go before.  A sad and thoughtful process….    But now I have a new beginning in my new home, which I am thrilled with.  Actually, it isn’t my real home, it is a mobile home parked permanently very near the sea, a summer home, but I love it.  I am doing it all up, and it is all new!

I hope to do loads of creative work there.  New beginnings energize me, make me full of hope.

But new beginnings can be deceptive, too.  For some reason we think that just by moving, new job, new home, new school, new relationship, we will avoid all our issues and problems, and become an all new, much better person instantly…..   We think that with this new start, we will instantly be cured of addictions, bad habits, bad temper, bad ways of treating people, or whatever the problem has been in the past home, job, school, relationship etc…..   But sadly, we soon find we are relapsing back into the same bad ways in our new start.  We need to be realistic, and work away at all these issues, one at a time maybe, over a longish period of time, and with any necessary help, not expect instant geographic cures.

Nevertheless, a new beginning can be a real kick-starter, on any of these problems, and real encourager to get going and make yourself and your life go better.  To grow outward, be creative, touch other people’s lives in a good way, to be “incandescent”, but not with rage, with light and energy.

So I can’t wait to get out there, walk by the sea, make the new curtains for my new home, start a new sketchbook,  plan a new series of quilts, etc…!

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.

Christmas!

This quilt is called “Hope”, which I made a few years ago, and have used as my Christmas card this year.  The pale stipe in the middle is hope shining through the darker colours (more obvious on the real quilt than in this photo).  Lots of upwards and downwards diagonals, also, which is how life seems to me, very up and down.  We need hope amidst all the bad news we keep hearing around the world.  That slim strip of hope somewhere in the middle, or a tiny miraculous baby in the  midst of the gloomy political world scene of that First Century Christmas.

Babies look recognisably like their fathers in the first few days and weeks of their life.  Probably a useful biological fact to help fathers know the baby is theirs and therefore bond with it.  After the first few weeks they look like their mothers, or some other relative, or just themselves, but those first few days they are the spitting image of their dads.  In Jesus’ case, of course, of his heavenly father..  N0 wonder shepherds and wise men, prophtesses and priests in the Temple when he was presented there, and even Joseph and Mary themselves, had no trouble recognising Jesus as the amazing, holy, miraculous, kingly, divine baby that he was, as well as fragile and vulnerable as babies are.  Lots of nativity pictures and cards show Joseph and Mary gazing at their baby in astonishment as well as adoration.  What a Christmas present that was! Not just for them, but for all of us.  Better get going on my “thank-you” letter!

Well, I have finished my “Rev Sev” series, so in the new year I will be starting on a whole new series of quilts, completely different, for my  blog.

In the meantime, I leave you with a verse from a famous Christmas carol, to cheer you up amid the strikes, crowds, and preparations of Christmas time. (See, we don’t only get alleluyas at Easter):-

“Glorious now behold Him arise,  King and God and sacrifice.  Alleluya, alleluya, sounds through the earth and skies.”

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!

 

Rainbows

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!