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!

Diamonds Are Forever

This quilt, “Diamonds are Forever” is the seventh and last in my series of quilts on the theme of money. The seven quilts deal with the different ways we get and handle money in our lives.  This one represents wealth acquired through marriage, or inherited wealth.  Money that just seems to come to us as part of our lives, that we may feel we are somehow entitled to, and which stays with us more or less permanently.  So it represents the greatest security, if you are fortunate enough to have it.  Takes away that awful fear of how would I manage without money or a roof over my head.

My quilt is all different white fabrics, a lot of them shiny, with glints of bright colours, because as the light catches the diamond, you see glints of bright colours deep inside it. This quilt looks better with a spotlight right on it, not so good in a photo.  I used a diamond pattern throughout.  However, when I had finished it, instead of seeing diamonds and hard edges, I saw something much more domestic, of fine linen, sheets on a bed.  A marriage chest of linen, a “bottom drawer” saved for that first marriage home.  The security aspect of an engagement ring diamond had come out in my art unexpectedly.  I find that happens a lot, and can be rather disconcerting.  In fact it looks like the ultimate security of cuddling up in bed!  So, it is three types of security all in one.  The emotional security of marriage, the financial security of wealth, or some anyway, and the childhood security of being cuddled up in bed.

As I sat invigilating my own show in the gallery, looking at my seven quilts on the theme of money, I realised that I had experienced, directly or indirectly, all of them.  Luck, cash, bonuses, earnings, productivity, and a certain amount of security (though sadly, not marriage).  Together with the dangers of money: fear, debt, envy, greed, spendaholic tendency, going without, lack, shady dealings, insecurity….   It’s been a rather up and down life….

Altogether, money is very two-faced, dangerous even.  It comes and goes.  Best not to rely on it as your security.  Better to rely on your eternal relationship with God as your security.  Though sometimes He seems to come and go a bit too…..  Hey ho.  Back to bed, and the security of going under the covers……

Liquid Assets

Liquid Assets, the quilt wall hanging featured above, is another in my series of quilts on the theme of money.  Liquid assets are actual cash or assets you can turn into cash very quickly.  No three-months notice to wait to withdraw from your savings account, or having to sell something.  It is good to have loads of the readies, but dangerous too, as they are soon gone, spent on goodies, or just quickly disappear into the necessities of life.  Very like liquid, it just runs away and disappears quickly.   I have been guilty of spend spend spend at times when I seemed to be earning quite well.  Easy come, easy go, with me.  All that money just sitting in your bank account, or cash lying around, it is just too tempting.  Soon gone, then what?

It is the opposite of my quilt “Bankers’ Bonuses” which showed wads of cash locked up safely, hoarded.  But both the ability to shop till you drop, or having loads of money locked away, both the cash and the stash, make us feel more secure.  Buying things makes us feel more secure temporarily.  We are giving ourselves a present.  When we got presents as children, it was because we were good, safe, loved, deserved it, or it was a celebration occasion, etc. etc..  So we try to  re-create that good feeling as adults.  I noticed that I bought handbags when my job was going badly or I had lost it.  Handbags made me feel more secure.  When I had been dumped by a man, I bought clothes, particularly ones with a fake-fur trim, I noticed.  Fur trims probably made me feel like a sweet little girl who someone would take care of…..    Men are supposed to buy a new car.  Women often want to do up the home or buy a new one.  What do you spend your liquid assets on to make yourself feel more secure or cheer yourself up temporarily?  Do we turn to God at these difficult moments in our life, our real security and our Rock?  No, we go shopping.  Foolish us.

In this quilt above, I have made it all watery colours, with fish swimming around, and light reflections contrasted with murky depths.  This represents the illusory fugitive quality of cash and similar liquid assets.  People thought this quilt was the best of my money series, and I used it a lot in my publicity printed materials.  A couple of my longest-term friends bought it, one of whom had been a stock broker, so appreciated the idea.  Sadly, they never hung it though.  Thought they could have at least put it up in the bathroom…..