Made to illustrate a talk that I gave at the Durbanville Quilt Guild – on the theme of stars in quilts. The colours are almost blindingly bright – just like when we have stars in our eyes.
I wanted to make a quilt of The Twelve Days of Christmas for as long as I can remember. I was once again inspired to do it when we had to make a Christmas challenge quilt for our local quilt guild, Kaapse Kwiltgenot. But the inspiration lasted only until I had put the first pear on the table. That is when my Christmas childhood memories started to surface. I knew it would be false to romanticise Christmas in a quilt. As a child we never celebrated Christmas with family, tinsel, or trees, as my mother – a single parent – believed in a living religion of serving people. As matron of a mission hospital, in the former Lebowa, South Africa, Christmas was a normal working day in the hospital, with no special feast or food. The quilt is an attempt to rid my Christmas of European symbols. It reflects bare interiors, light shining through the windows, and food from nature. In the centre is an altered image of my husband – as we celebrated his health, after a cancer scare.
I made Journey in May during my annual holiday in May 1994. It refers to crossroads in my life. I bought the fabrics for the quilt during 1990, at Liberty’s of London and Harrods, while backpacking through Europe to study art and quilts. It is the first quilt that I had ever entered for a quilt competition and luck came my way when it won a first prize in the category, Innovative Small. The prize, a Bernina 1000 machine, changed my life. Until then, the only machine I ever had was my mother’s 40 year old Singer threshing machine.
An autobiographical quilt that refers to my early life on my grandparents’ bushveld farm, Tuinplaas, and growing up on Groothoek Mission Station in the far north of South Africa. It refers to the pain and pleasure of love, life, religion, and motherhood. Clutching a bunch of acorns, I celebrate my curvaceous middle-age figure that survived a grueling 1995 journalism course at Stellenbosch University in the town of acorn trees. I use personal symbols such as the urn, mask, chameleon, goat, cow, and phoenix, to tell the story.
Choice was inspired by a newspaper report stating that president Nelson Mandela of South Africa, signed the new Abortion Bill to legalise abortion on 11 December 1996 – also the date of my daughter’s 27th birthday. I thought I knew exactly how I felt about the matter of abortion – until my fingers and soul got involved in the fabric debate. And when three Gods and a baby presented themselves in fabric, the peas and passion grew into a mind tangle.
Exploring our new gully fills me with deep joy. In the late afternoon sun, the dense area can trick the eye when red hot pokers or flaming lilies suddenly seem to spring from the shadows – until I realise that I see what I want to see. Things from the past. The quilt top is made entirely from scrap strips.