Friday, March 28, 2014

I+V+III+I (Stillbirth) quilt, AQC (Australasian Quilting Convention) 'Ten' Challenge Finalist 2014

I'm pleased to now be able to share my latest quilt which gained entry into the AQC 'Ten' themed challenge. I spoke a little about the theme concept of this intensely personal art quilt in my last blog post here, but essentially it's a memory quilt detailing my friends' struggle for a family and the child, miscarriages and still birth that followed.

I+V+III+I (Stillbirth) 125x125cm by  Neroli Henderson
Click to enlarge
Only one word for this caption - "Yay!!!"

Although it's a very simple piece symbology is rife throughout the design - every single leaf represents a real miscarriage, every joined double leaf is an IVF implant that failed to eventuate.  After IVF failed Denise became pregnant again naturally and it felt like it was meant to be until her baby Marcus was born sleeping, just a couple of days before his due date. Hospital staff took prints of his little hands and feet and I used those to free motion his prints onto the quilt. 

Footprints taken from Marcus Connor, born sleeping 2/1/11 were stitched using the real prints as guides.
Two faces are carved into the top part of the tree trunk, you can just see their profiles. The Dove represents Paige, now 11 and the eggs in the nest the cycle of life that will perpetuate. The heart on the tree is cut from metal and debossed with Marcus' initials and date of birth: MJC 2/1/11.

The metal heart is debased with Marcus' initials, the tree has been shaped to go in the direction of the grain and the type was free motion stitched with metallic gold thread.

The entire quilt is made from shot silks, so the colour changes significantly as you walk past. I've shaped the tree from textured silk so that the grain follows the line of the branches. All elements have been fused down raw-edge appliqué style. The poem has been free-motion stitched with metallic gold thread and the background  quilting has been kept simple with the name of the quilt inscribed into the bottom.

In this detail you can see the two faces carved in profile out of the top part of the tree trunk.
The borders have been made from sari silk edging which is a new way of finishing a quilt to me and one I haven't seen before. I hope you like it, it was an incredibly sad quilt to make and one that I hope will resonate with others who have had to go through this sort of loss. Still birth is much more prevalent that many would think.

To see the other finalists (and it's well worth a look - there are some amazing works) view them on the AQC website here.

Who's going to the AQC? If are please consider filling out the viewers choice form for this quilt. :)

Neroli x

Friday, March 21, 2014

AQC '10' theme challenge (reason for being slack at blogging #3)

Every year the AQC (Australasian Quilt Convention - it's kind of like Australia's answer to Houston, though having never been lucky enough to get there I'm assuming) has a call for entries to a themed exhibition. This year to help celebrate their 10th year of the convention the theme was '10'. Art quilters from all over the world were invited to submit a 125cm x 125cm entry based on this theme.

My first thought was to make a picture quilt with as many '10' things happening in it as I could think of - all set within a beach scene. Ten-tacles sticking out of the water, a submarine with '10,000 leagues under the sea' written on it, a life guard calling out 'at-ten-tion' on his loudspeaker, Bo Derek sunning herself on the beach, a game of 10 pin bowls going on, a surfer hanging 10 - well you get the idea.

I drew it up and it looked ok but I had another idea that wouldn't let me feel like this sketch was the 'one'. My other idea was a polar opposite and quite a sad quilt to make. In 2011 good friends of mine had the horrible experience of going through a still birth at full term. Their son, whom I have no doubt would have been the most beautiful boy ever was 'born sleeping'. The hospital staff took a print of both his feet and hands and I had already stitched these out with gold embroidery thread onto silk for them as a memento. The idea of doing a '10 little fingers' themed quilt was born.
Embroidered hand and footprints taken from the hands and feet of Marcus Connor who was 'born sleeping' on 2/1/11. Marcus and these prints inspired my design submission for the AQC 'Ten' themed challenge.

After talking to my friend Denise about if she was willing to let me memorialise her experience through an art quilt that if chosen was going to be quite public I found out that if you totalled her pregnancies over the years there had been 10 in total. Her first born, Paige, now aged 12, 5 miscarriages, 3 IVF implantations and then Marcus who was still born. Obviously this was the quilt to make.

Denise was lovely enough to critique me on my poem and image concept and helped me adjust it until it aligned with how she feels about her loss. She even came over very late on the night before the quilt was due to help me spray baste the batting and turned up early again the next morning to give her ok to the border. In general I was very lucky to have something so intensely meaningful as the theme for my quilt and such a good friend to aid me in making it the best it could be. I believe if art is personal to you then you're going to do a better job at creating it.

My submission was somehow successful and the 'I+V+III+1' (Stillbirth) quilt will premier at the AQC in Melbourne this April the 10th in the Exhibition Building, Carlton. It will then be on tour over the next year around Australia and New Zealand and hopefully some other countries as well.

I can't show you the actual quilt until after the premier, but here's the poem from the inscription free machine stitched across the front.

Ten little fingers and ten little toes
Was all we wanted for you, you know
A baby perfect in it's entirety
Was all we wanted for you to be
Quite a lot it may have seemed
Though you were everything we dreamed
Then you were born and failed to wake
And each of our three hearts did break
Your life we'll never get to know
We wish we could have watched you grow

Until next time,
Neroli x

Friday, March 14, 2014

Reason for blogging slackness #2 - My Solo Exhibition

Two blog posts within a week! Are you proud of me?!?  My second reason for being a very slack little blogger is that I had a solo exhibition at the Abbotsford Convent through December to early Jan this year. Lentils As Anything, a lovely community 'pay as you feel' cultural café were nice enough to offer me the residency spot for the month and I had 26 pieces on show.

Out of the 26 six have now gone to new owners. Not bad really given the café environs aren't generally over conducive to close up viewing and selling. There was also the unexpected bonus in that my husband - after seeing the works framed - now considers them to be art and not "really decorative placemats" (sheesh!). I don't know what it is with textiles - you can do the most thought provoking, graphically amazing design with amazing technical execution -  but if you dare construct it with fabric and it measures less than 50x50cm non quilty types tend to see placemats, cushion fronts and table runners… unless they are in frames.

Here's a pick of some of the pieces framed, we went for simple white frames across the entire exhibition which gave everything a really lovely clean and modern look. Box frames were used for the square pieces which also worked well. It marked my very first solo exhibition incorporating only textile art works. Not a conventional painting in site!

From now on I think framing will be my go to finishing technique for all small works.

Speak to you next week!
Neroli x

Saturday, March 8, 2014

'Art Quilts Around The World' blog group

Hi everyone, 

I'm so sorry I've been incredibly slack when it comes to posting. I promise to make a concerted effort to fix that here and now. I've been a bit busy over the last few months and in the next few blog posts I'm planning on showing you just why that is. Reason #1 for being sidetracked is that I joined the 'Art Quilts Around the World' blog group - a group of almost 30 textile artists from all over the world who make an A3 sized art quilt to a theme chosen by a group member every 2 months. Our next reveal is on March 31st and the theme is 'Song Title' - but as an extra challenge we have to complete it in another group member's artistic style.

Since joining I've made 4 quilts - the first of these is was for the theme 'Carnival'. Any of you who know me know that I not only get bored easily but I like to be a little different, so I decided to interpret the theme as 'Carni-Val' and take a bit of an anti meat eating stance at the same time. Not that I'm vegetarian but I do quiver at the notion many have of every single meal needing to have some animal as part of the plate… and I wanted to show a bit of support for a newly vegan friend.

Read more about 'Carni-Val' on the Art Quilts Around the World blog here

The next quilt theme on this group was 'Out of Asia' and I decided to recreate Hokusai's beautiful woodcut 'The Great Wave' an artwork I've always wanted to incorporate somehow into my own work. I also got to utilise some of the decorative stitches on my now not-so-new machine and incorporate my hatred for 'Hello Kitty' :) "Wave Goodbye Kitty" was born!

To read more about "Wave Goodbye Kitty' go here

The following theme was a quite introspective one for myself - 'The Road Less Travelled' required a lot of thinking and I decided to try free-motion thread painting with up to a 9mm stitch on hardened felt, the figure is in the style I used to use for a series of nude oil paintings I did many years ago.

'Confinement' is one of my most introspective works. Read more about it here

Last but not least the December challenge (I had to miss February's due to exhibition deadline clashes) was for a theme that I got to choose for the group. I've always loved extreme close ups so I picked 'Macro'. Here's my macro quilt:

'Fly on the Wall' (what you expected a normal name?). To read more about it - you guessed it - click here

If you're in the mood for some extra eye candy - and believe me the others in this group have delivered some very impressive eye candy - please take a look at the blog "Art Quilts Around the World". It was formerly called 'Around the World in 20 quilts' but grew to more than 20 members though we are letting it get back to that number now. I've just given the blog a bit of a facelift so let me know how you feel about the look and feel of it. This one may be next :)

Speak to you soon,

Neroli x