Thursday, 12 March 2015

Memories

Well hello... Yet again I've been gone a while being busy with other things but it has been a good week. The sun has shone, I've dried washing outside, planted up some pots with primroses, been for walks... But best of all I have finished my big commission which feels like it has been hanging over me for weeks... Literally... it is a very large wall hanging!

Back at the end of November, I met with some of the residents of Edward House, a residential home in Cambridge. The ladies, whose ages ranged from 87 to 101 chatted to me about their memories and my brief was to convert them into a wall hanging. It was very exciting!

 
I knew I wanted it to be a type of quilt with a lot of text... I was inspired by Tracey Emin's blankets.... But without the profanities! I decided to use old table cloths as my background and started with a memory from Bernice, who at 101 remembered her Dad giving her 2d to clean his boots when she was a girl.
 

Several of the women remembered having to wear Liberty bodices... Some with suspenders attached to hold up their woollen stockings.


We spoke about playground games, shopping, washing, rationing.... So much that it was a problem knowing what to include and what to leave out.
 
 
But it has taken so much longer than I anticipated and over the past couple of months I've come to really dislike it. I'm not sure why really.. it's not my usual colour palette nor really my style. Also because it is mostly linen it looks awfully creased and crumpled... although it's not nearly as bad as it looks in the photos! Everytime I thought it might be nice to spend some time in the garden or read a magazine or something similar, I've had to stop and think no, better spend another hour or so on the quilt. It has taken hours and hours, so instead of feeling like a pleasure it has become a chore. 


I kept thinking that if I had the time and money I would have liked to have started all over again... although I'm not sure what I would have done instead!
 

But on Tuesday I finally finished it and this afternoon with anticipation and a certain amount of anxiety and dread, I delivered it to Edward House... I was convinced they wouldn't like it either.


But the staff and ladies absolutely loved it... they loved the colours and the details and I got a spontaneous round of applause! I still don't like it but it was huge relief to hear their excitement. Especially hearing the ladies as they were reading out parts that they remembered. And Bernice was especially excited to see it today as it was her 102nd birthday!


And it is also a huge relief to have it out of my house allowing me to get on with some other things


Although not until after this weekend... I'm off teaching at Missenden Abbey again tomorrow. Bad planning to be teaching over the weekend on Mother's Day but never mind. Hope you have a lovely weekend... And if you are a Mum, hope you get thoroughly spoiled.

34 comments:

  1. You may not like the wall hanging much but you have made so many persons happy with it, what an achievement. I love the small details, memories well captured. I hope you get to make what you like best for your next few projects. I really really want to learn your art, I should book myself into a course (yours ideally) and do it. Enjoy your teaching weekend Gina. x

    ReplyDelete
  2. Gina, this is such an amazing and beautiful record of an incredibly important piece of social history. You have produced a wonderful personal tribute to the lives of women who have lived through a time of unbelievable change.
    Whether you like it or not (and I totally get the not always liking your commissions bit!) you should be extremely proud of the quilt and its meaning to all involved.
    Enjoy your teaching weekend :)
    I'll be thinking of you while I work on a commission for an electric blanket cover....yup, there is such a thing, apparently ;)

    ReplyDelete
  3. I think that it is wonderful and can totally see why the staff and residents love it so much. However, I can understand your feelings as well. Making something like this can feel like a lot of responsibility, it is so personal and is something that you really want to get right and adding to that it not being your personal style is very hard isn't it. Rest assured though, you did a really great job, it is fantastic and will be a treasured memory and part of the residents lives and their home I am sure!!! I hope that you can now settle and enjoy what new things will come your way! xx

    ReplyDelete
  4. Wow, what an epic piece of work. I've been aware that you have been working on this for some while as it's popped up in photos! A relief to have it finished and out, and I'm sure it will be appreciated more than you could ever think. It gets to the point where we spend too long with a piece of work we cease to see it as others do!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I can see the many hours that have gone into this and understand how it must have become a chore.. but I think it is absolutely fabulous! No wonder the ladies loved it.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I absolutely understand how you can feel that a project has become such a burden but you must be very happy that you persevered. I thunk it's beautiful and what a great gift for the ladies. Maybe you can go back to see it in a few months with fresh eyes and will see the beauty that we all see in it.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Everyone's said it all and I agree wholeheartedly with everything that's been said. It's so hard to make things for someone else but your hard work will be a talking point for many years and will bring so much pleasure to all the residents present and future. Something to please you next xx

    ReplyDelete
  8. The hours of pain have brought happy memories back to those in their twilight years - but commissions, eh? Time to get back to Enjoy! And right on that note I've ordered our Australia tickets, so we're looking good.

    ReplyDelete
  9. what a lovely personal result the ladies have had Gina. you can see how much work has gone into it and I can perfectly understand how you got sick of it - we all have projects like that. the main thing is that they love it!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Learning to accept compliments or praise (particularly for work you're not too pleased with) is such a tough thing to do. I hope you can feel that it's something you're 'working towards'
    In your case it's certainly not undeserved. I'm not at all surprised the residents loved it.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I think that perhaps you have looked at it for too long Gina, I think it's wonderful, well done on an amazing piece of work!
    Happy birthday to Bernice and a very happy Mothers Day to you,
    V x

    ReplyDelete
  12. Gina, I wish you a very Happy Mother's Day!

    I am sure that the ladies at Edward House were thrilled to see what you had created, just for them. To have an artist like yourself take all the care and time to design something holding their shared memories is very precious. I imagine that they will continue talking about your quilt (really now their quilt) for a long time.

    Bravo. xo

    ReplyDelete
  13. it is a very special piece of work and will be treasured and admired and loved. Really pretty. Well done for capturing their memories so beautifully. Now I too must get ready for Missenden!

    ReplyDelete
  14. It's fab, I love it. Such a lot of happy memories (and a few blasts from my own past!)stitched beautifully together. Have a great weekend.

    ReplyDelete
  15. What a great bunch of memories you have managed to get on that quilt Gina. I'm sure it will be a talking point for everyone who sees it for many moons to come.I really understand when you can't seem to like a piece of work but have to finish it for someone. I look forward to seeing the projects you do like soon.

    ReplyDelete
  16. That's just brilliant, capturing all those memories. I could study that for ages looking at all the different and wonderful things going on there. x

    ReplyDelete
  17. Thank you for your honesty. I first saw your quilt on facebook and genuinely thought it looked amazing. I did a project where older people shared memories, but I had other people to commit those to dance and a film. School-children produced dances with a choreographer and a film-maker made the film. I blogged about it recently. the film is worth a watch. I think that you have done the residents and yourself proud. I am a terrible finisher.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Congratulations! I think you were very brave to take this on and you've achieved just what was wanted - very successful. You're too close to it now but in time you'll be impressed too.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I am not surprised that all those ladies love your quilt. You must have included memories for each one. They will get daily pleasure from looking at each little area. It's a shame you didn't get pleasure from making it, but you have certainly given pleasure by making it.
    Enjoy your weekend at Missenden with all the other 'escaped' Mums! Maybe you can all postpone your day of spoiling till next Sunday.

    ReplyDelete
  20. My word there is alot of detail in the quilt, i think it's great and can see why the ladies and staff love it!, just reading the bits you wrote it reminds me of my nan, as used to talk about similar thingsxx

    ReplyDelete
  21. I haven't done very many, but commissions can be a problem - doing something someone has asked you to do, not something you've chosen yourself. And you had to live with this one for such a long time! Congratulations on finishing it, I can imagine the relief! It looks truly amazing, you've captured those memories so beautifully, in a style the women will be able to relate to. Hope the weekend goes well - and you can look forward to enjoying what you want to do next.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Oh Gina -- I'm so sorry you don't like this one -- I LOVE it! I love the colors and that it's so full of memories -- no wonder the ladies loved it. Well Done!!! (Oh, and Happy Mother's Day!)

    ReplyDelete
  23. I think the ladies at Edward House see all the visual references and the memories and respond to it so positively. Whereas you are seeing the colour and design and seeing bits you want to differently, commissions for pieces that aren't quite your own thing are tricky things!
    The finished hanging reminds me a little of Grayson Perry's Comfort Blanket in the Who Are You? exhibition.
    Well done for getting it done!
    C xx

    ReplyDelete
  24. What a totally beautiful and brilliant piece of work Gina - you never cease to amaze me! x jo

    ReplyDelete
  25. Wow! There is so much detail in this that I can see why it took you so long. I can also see why the ladies loved it.

    ReplyDelete
  26. I think it's stunningly beautiful and can see exactly why they love it. Celia's right, it reminds me too of Grayson's quilts. I am sure that they will treasure it, even though you don't really! Enjoy your weekend.

    ReplyDelete
  27. It's fabulous! No wonder they loved it!

    ReplyDelete
  28. Certainly a labour of love! Well done on sticking with it. Happy Mothers day to you too. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  29. I absolutely love this Gina!!!! I would love to be able to create something like this, you are one talented lady xx

    ReplyDelete
  30. What a wonderful thing to have created Gina. Yes, not your usual style, but still a quilt that will give so much pleasure, and inspire recollections for those whose stories contributed to the content. Well done you for getting it finished, it's a delight :-)

    ReplyDelete
  31. I can see that the quilt is not your normal Gina style, but I can also see why to those whose lives it speaks of it is very special indeed. And more than than that it will welcome others to Edward House and make a strange place seem more familiar. So well done you, even if you don't feel that way.

    ReplyDelete
  32. a school friend who went to live in Scotland, introduced me to my first dolly peg. Brought one home as a memory. Your quilt speaks a language that I can feel.

    ReplyDelete
  33. Hi Gina. My big sister Jo [aka twiglet] sent me the link to your blog because she knew I would love your quilt....and she's not wrong. I used to be a geriatric nurse and just know the effects memories have on the old folk so know your quilt will be valued really highly by the residents at the home. I now enjoy quilting so really appreciate all the hard work you have put into your quilt so would like to give you a huge pat on your back....it's stunning.
    Hugs,
    Annie x

    ReplyDelete
  34. I think it's a lovely way to share all those memories and no wonder they were thrilled! Well done for interpreting them in a unique way; I don't enjoy commissions very much, would rather do my own thing!

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for leaving me a comment. I love to read what you have to say and try to reply directly by email when possible... although it sometimes takes me a while!