The Brown Quilts

 

 

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I Had a House in Africa, 1998

I made I Had a House in Africa for my son’s 27th birthday. He migrated to New Zealand on 11 December 1997. The quilt depicts all the things he had left behind: his house and garden, the soil and sun-baked earth, the swallows nesting at the back door, the grey bucks in the nature reserve opposite our house, the Cape Franklin birds on his window sill, the food bowls of Africa, the ancestors, and all the friends in his life. I made the quilt while we waited for our own New Zealand Residency application to be approved.

 

 

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I Thought I Saw Angels in the Gully, 2009

The quilt refers to the solitude and silence in our mysterious gully.  A profusion of ferns and fronds shelter birds and other beings.  Also inspired by the narrative bands in ancient frieze designs as well as the traditional quilt patterns found in Pacific Tapa Cloths.

 

 

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Angels in My Gully, 2009

On lightness and darkness; the joy of gardening, and the pleasure to explore and restore our gully with native plants.  It is possible to come across some delightful creatures in the dense bush while planting cabbage and kowhai trees.

 

 

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Welcome #4, 2004

Leaving home is a journey  without end. Immigrants often find themselves unwelcome and spiritually homeless when they discover the place they have journeyed to is not theirs, and the one they have left can not be recovered.

 

 

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Welcome #1, 2004

Leaving home is a journey without end. Migrants often find themselves unwelcome and spiritually homeless when they discover the place they have journeyed to is not theirs, and the one they have left can not be recovered.

 

 

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It Takes a Second, 2004

It is almost unthinkable to damage a quilt and burn it deliberately.  And a child? It takes a second to ruin a life.

 

 

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Welcome on Foreign Soil, 2004

Leaving home is a journey  without end. Migrants often find themselves unwelcome and spiritually homeless when they discover the place they have journeyed to is not theirs, and the one they have left cannot be recovered.

 

 

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Displaced, 2004

Made in response to the question, “Have you made a New Zealand quilt yet?”   It made me wonder what the expectation was. Do I use primary colours to create Keas and Korus and perpetuate a postcard Godzone, or do I explore New Zealand’s dark underbelly and look towards McCahon, Hotere, Fomison and Peeples for inspiration? I opted for the latter and used the half-square triangle – a universal symbol that threads across the borders of Africa, America, Europe, New Zealand, and the Pacific.  As a migrant, my work comments on coming and going, place and displacement.

 

 

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Shield, 2006

A shield to protect me from life’s changes.  Inspired by a picture of an African shield.

 

 

Baggage by Norma Slabbert

Baggage, 2011

As a migrant and a quiltmaker, my work comments on coming and going, the space in between, and cultural baggage.

 

 

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It Takes a Life Time, Stitched Stories, Exhibition of Wall Quilts, ArtsPost Galleries, Hamilton, 2006

The why in quiltmaking intrigues me much more than the how.  When I hear quiltmakers say, “Why are we doing it?” I always think about Tita and Pedro (Like Water for Chocolate) who were forced to circle each other in unconsummated passion for 22 years. I think of Tita, who, during her endless nights of insomnia, made an enormous bedspread that spread a full kilometre.  I could only manage a 10 meter quilt, but my mind travelled much further – through a lifetime of choices and consequences. It is my wish that people will choose to walk on my floor quilt and dispel the myth that quilts are precious.

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