Friday, April 19, 2019

On receiving the Forced to Flee catalogue


Day before yesterday’s mail brought a pleasant surprise with the shipment of the artist copy of the catalogue for “forced to flee”. I’d had no idea that a detail of my quilt would be published on the cover. It is a very nice and impressive catalogue, and I feel very honored to be included amongst the selected artists. 

Cover of the catalogue for SAQA Forced to Flee

And with a quilt like this, which is so important for me, and very emotional. Not the most personal quilt I ever made, but certainly one of the most emotional ones indeed. 


And I am profoundly moved at the variety of takes at the topic that are included in the selection. Forebears who emigrated to the US (at that time they were still welcome to the country, not facing walls, water bombing or blood hounds at the border), fires that have destroyed homes, the atomic bombs of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, looking at migrants as people, not burdens or numbers, the dead boy on the beach, barbed wire as a very impressive embroidery stitch on several pieces…
As I was leafing through the pages, recognizing so many names and thinking about the kinds of friendships that have formed with many of the other artists in this exhibition, I felt a deep sense of connection, and of gratitude. For the influence that being a member of SAQA has had on my quilting, the development that it made possible for me. And for the possibilities of meeting so many interesting people and becoming friends with them.

At the same time I was outraged. The topic of the exhibition, so vibrant and important, so many deeply touching quilts. And yet – look at what is happening now. It was the day after the fire in the cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris. I, too, have been to the cathedral, I was impressed, and I am very sad that it was damaged so badly. But looking at the photos of the quilts I wondered whether the amounts that were being donated in that very minute to “rebuild it, but even more beautiful”, zillions just whipped out of pocket books of entrepreneurs, companies could not be spent in a more sensible, humane way. In a way that is more in the spirit of Notre Dame, for whom the cathedral was built. Yes, a cathedral is important. We need places to worship. But this one in particular has become a national symbol for a state much more so than it is in the people’s minds as a place of worship.
If the overflowing funds that are obviously out there, as they can be distributed (or at least pledged) so quickly, before we even know how much restoration will cost, or whether it will be really possible, if those funds had been poured into the Banlieues of Paris a few decades ago, giving immigrant childrean a perspective, schooling, a job, then La Grande Nation would be in a different state.
And the same holds true for any other topic of unrest that are unsettling the world these days. If politicians would just listen to scientists and numbers, AND to millions of school children taking their frustration at the inactivity in face of the climate catastrophe to the streets, if they would spend the amount that has now been offered to rebuild a house of stone, to save the house of nature that we are living on, then they would not need to discuss the fact that these children are skipping school, and that cannot be tolerated, it is “breaking the law”. If serious measures were taken, not regarding economic profit, but global and universal perspective for a liveable future, let’s do everything we can – then these children would probably gladly go back to school on Fridays. (Listen to an excerpt of Greta Thunberg's speech at the European Parliament in Strasbourg this week here.)

If leaders had seen Africa as a continent of dignity, considered its peoples as equals and its prospects as global instead of keeping the countries in a permanent state of economical and political dependency on Western Aid, perhaps the situation in those countries would be different, and we would not have a threat of millions of people taking to the road in search of a better, any life.
German is known for its terrible (in the eyes of foreign language learners) capacity to combine several words into one and come up with a newly created meaning. 

Just a week ago I was reminded of one of these linguistic monsters we have had to create, when I was talking to a city employee about the first Fridays for Future demonstration in our town. 


The word is “Klimawandelfolgekosten”. Climate change follow-up costs. Meaning economic effects in our own country (drought, floods, or other extreme weather conditions), costs of maintaining political stability in countries even more effected by climate change, refugees and migrants caused by changing conditions, lack of professional perspectives, agricultural devastation… At 22 letters it is not even the longest we can come up with, I have counted 32 letters in a word. But it is definitely one of the more gruesome words we have constructed to abstract our awareness from what the entire situation is about.
(And I am not going to start about my wrath at Germany’s Minister of the Interior linguistic jingles with the new law for ‘Regulated Back-Transfer of Migrants’ here.)
36 quilts selected, from a total of 191 entries – perhaps SAQA should have set up a group of exhibitions, including all entries, or at least 100, and sent them to all corners to the world. Where will we flee when this planet has been mined towards extinction?

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Done. Well - sort of...

When I went on vacation in the first 10 days of April I had packed sufficient textile projects to keep me busy for at least four weeks. After all, it could have happened that we get snowed in and ... (on the Canary Islands...)
In any case, I played catch up not only with the Daily Somethings, but with A Scrap a Day as well. And finally, two days ago - a week after I returned from my much too short vacation (I could not finish everything I had taken along!) - I put in the last embroidery stitch on the daily art project from last year. Or so I thought.
I put it up on the wall in a four-patch arrangement, took a photo and sent it to my good friend Kathleen Loomis who has been following along from the minute it began.


And I started fretting about how I would put it together. The pieces are not the same size, and I had not worked on making them the same size. But how would I get these to go together...?  Luckily, Kathy always has a good idea and is quick in her answers when needed - she suggested I just finish each of them individually. That way I could present them in various arrangements, depending on the amount of space available. Of course something needs to be done to cover up the back.


Ironing helps, of course, because it gives the pieces a different feeling.


First idea was to put them on a dark linen fabric that would give them a bit of a frame as well, besides a protective cover on the back. The curved pieces are all linen, too, so a linen back fabric seems befitting.

The brown linen would be shortened, of course.

However - right now I am not sure whether I like that as much as I liked the impression of the four pieces next to each other, but no interruptions through fabric frames. At this point I have only attempted to do it with one of the pieces. Have to sleep over this a bit, I think. Perhaps I can find a different type of linen in my stash - one precondition I have is that I want to use only a fabric that I already have. No new purchases!
Oh - and when taking the individual pieces down, I pricked myself, because there was one scrap that had only been pinned in place and not stitched yet. So those were the final hand stitches for the front.





A first reaction to Kathy's suggestion was 'oh, then I can just keep going', because I have at least another 4 or 6 of those round pieces that are calling for additions. And I have plenty of yellow scraps left, the whole project has not helped in diminishing those! But perhaps I will wait a little while before continuing on this journey. First I need to decide on the finishing touches for the ones that are completely stitched.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

#100dayproject or: Daily Somethings progress report


There is a lot of buzz going on on Instagram these days about the beginning of the #100dayschallenge2019. (Happened on April 2nd) I had seen the hashtag on one or two people’s accounts I was following last year, but I had not realized it was such a big thing.
Lots of very interesting ideas going up, and I am impressed with people’s creativity. I did not sign up officially because, although I like following these ideas, I think a sign-up won’t really make a difference in how seriously I am committed to keeping up with my daily ‘work load’ of doing something in that field.



I got hooked up with Daily Art through Kathleen Loomis, and I am still very grateful to her for that. (You can check out Kathy's Daily Art Projects over the years here.) 
I have been doing it for several years, and I am again doing it this year. Although I got severely behind with last year’s project and am just now putting on the last scraps for “A Scrap a Day”, I did commit myself to another project. With the option of not letting it run for a whole year, but perhaps only half a year, the “Daily Somethings”.

I have never limited a project to 100 days, so I am wondering whether that does make a difference. A full year is much longer, 100 days is definitely less intimidating, the time restriction makes it a bit less overwhelming.  That might be an explanation.

Last week, on the evening before I boarded the plane to go on vacation, a chance remark on my side, meant more as a bit of a joke, got me the option of doing another solo exhibition next year, in a gallery that has a lot of wall space. That had a very strong influence on a pending decision – and also made it clear that I want this current daily art project to be limited to the end of June. 



That sort of fits into the #100daychallenge2019, which, by my counts, should be finished just around that time – not 100% exactly, but who wants to go about splitting hairs on this one. 

Meanwhile I have tried to do some research. I have checked out the website for the #100daychallenge, I have listenend to the podcast between former and current "initiator" or leader of the project, and I do understand that it probably makes a lot of difference for someone who is just starting on getting creative. Perhaps also for somebody who has already been doing creative things, but needs a bit of a momentum in it? And I do see that posting to a community might make a lot of difference in keeping up one’s motivation. However, I could not find out what is the magic behind the start date of April 2 - ? Whose birthday is this, or what is the significance of the date? End date July 10th – the same… what does it stand for?





In any case, my Daily Somethings are going to be ‘done’ on June 30th, and then only put together to present on the wall. And I might even post with the hashtag #100daychallenge2019, although for me the more important hashtags are #dailyart and #dailysomethings.