The Money Laundry

This quilt above, called The Money Laundry, is part of a series of quilts on the theme of money, which I did for a show in a London West End gallery.

The design is meant to give the effect of money going round and round in a washing machine.  If you zoom in, you can see pieces of gold and silver and notes in the smaller squares.  It was meant as a light-hearted look at how money is sometimes dealt with.

However, as I sat at the gallery stewarding my show for hours, I realised that all the quilts I had done on the theme of money were relevant to me in some way, and how I handle money…..

No, so far as I am aware, I haven’t laundered any money, but maybe there are some aspects of how I handle money which I am not too proud of, and would like the memory to be blurred, or laundered, from my own memory as much as other people’s.  Remember, everything that is done or said in secret, will be shouted from the rooftops one day. I can think of times when I have wasted money, or shopped too much, or handled it irresponsibly or selfishly…..    Oh dear….

Undeterred by such guilty thoughts, a nice man bought this quilt to go in his flat nearby.  He was something of a collector of wall hangings, and was delighted with the colours and humourous title.

Happy Birthday!

It’s my birthday today, so Happy Birthday to me!  Just went out for cake and coffee and the waitress gave me the cake free for my birthday!   So I  am feeling thankful and fortunate for everything, including that.  Small gestures can make a big difference.

I thought my quilt called “Treasure Trove” was appropriate for today, in my series of quilts on the theme of money.  These seven quilts deal with different aspects of getting and handling money.  This one is meant to represent a huge lucky windfall, such as finding a huge chest full of buried treasure.  I have made it using blocks of sparkling stars in different jewel colours.  It’s a very cheerful quilt. In real life, these sorts of windfalls don’t often happen.  But there are some: a  redundancy package, a  promotion, scratch card win, unexpected legacy, unexpected refund, a big saving made on something, etc., etc.  Even a free cake with your coffee…..

Last time’s quilt dealt with the culture of greed represented in my quilt called “Bankers’ Bonuses”; this time, in “Treasure Trove” the money comes to one by luck or good fortune.

Of course, as Christians, we have a huge treasure trove in God himself, and all his blessings and gifts to us. Luck has got nothing to do with it, windfalls are a gift from God.  These blessings, gifts and treasure from God go largely untouched, un-opened and unrecognised, sadly. Why do we not spot them more?  Use them more?  Appreciate them more?

Today, I feel,  is a good occasion for me to say thank you and make a mental list of all the ones I can think of……  Starting from before I was born even.    Yes, we should celebrate all these wonderful gifts, blessings and treasures.  Mental note, put the champagne in the fridge for later.  (Actually it is only sparkling wine, but who minds eh!  It’s all good.)

Money, money, money!

Happy New Year everyone!   New year’s resolution: must remember to make one.  Actually, think I will just soldier on with last year’s.  But I love new year, new starts, new plans and projects…..

So here’s my new blog theme for New Year: money.  Yes, good old chink-chink.  The Bible says the love of money is the root of all evil, though personally I think it is pride.  Still, maybe the love of money and pride are linked in some way.  Money can certainly bring power, and a sense or security, often false.  Both can make you feel you don’t really need God.

A few years ago, I had an exhibition in a gallery in London’s West End, and did seven quilts on the theme of money for it.  I seem to work in series of sevens.  The names of these quilt wall hangings were: “Bankers’ Bonuses”, “Treasure Trove”, “The Money Laundry”, “Diamonds are Forever, “Liquid Assets”, “The Golden Goose”, and “Rags to Riches”.

After I had done them all and was stewarding my show, sitting there for hours looking at them all together, it dawned on me that they represented the different aspects of getting, making and handling money.  The greed behind the group culture of bonuses.  Relying on luck.  Shady dealing, crime.  Marrying a rich person, or inheriting wealth.  Having lots of available cash, flashing the readies.  Finding a great business idea  or asset that makes you loads of money.  And making your money from scratch by sheer hard work.

There is nothing actually wrong with money itself, it is useful.  It’s only one’s attitude and use of it that can be a problem.

The above picture of my quilt “Bankers’ Bonuses”  shows lots of wads of cash, gold bars, silver coins etc., all stacked up in piles and wads. Loadsa money, all stacked up!  Very nice, yes please…..But the bars around it make one think it is in a vault, locked up, stored, somehow not available for use; the object being just to know it is there, to dream about, hoard……

If you zoom in, you can see individual fabric strips of printed money, coins, notes, gold bars, etc., together with strips of pin-stripe, suggesting the shirts bankers wear.

This quilt was bought to go on the wall of an autistic boy,  I think because he would like the bright colours and cheerful design.  A more cheerful, innocent  image of money.

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!

 

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.

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!