Emergency Blankets: Work-In-Progress Part 1

I am very proud to announce that I have been selected to participate in the MAPBM event ‘Carnivale Catastrophe’ (curated by Dr Fiona Davies) as part of Cementa22. ‘Carnivale Catastrophe’ is supported by Festivals Australia and NAB. As part of my participation I will be producing a new work titled Emergency Blankets which is supported by the NSW Government through Create NSW.

Emergency Blankets is a triptych of quilts responding to disasters and hardship, such as fires, droughts, and economic depressions, as well as psychological hardships, such as mourning and depression. The three quilts that I’m creating are made primarily from recycled materials, in the style of traditional wagga quilts, with mylar emergency blankets as the backing material. The development of my works for ‘Carnivale Catastrophe’, including Emergency Blankets, will involve consultation with the local community through a charitable organisation called Nanna’s Haberdashery. As part of this project I am planning a series of posts that give some insight into my creative process.

In this first post I thought I would address the initial, planning stages of my first quilt for the triptych. This quilt is based on the traditional wagga or wagga rug made by men from jute bags. I planned to make my wagga out of some hessian sacking from my late grandfather’s estate. This is an example of a wagga made from hessian bags that I found during my research:

In addition to backing the wagga with mylar I also wanted to use some red felt, left over from a previous artwork, for the borders and to patch holes in the hessian. Working with me on this project was my wonderful art assistant (my Mum) who suggested that we do a few materials tests before we started on the real thing. From these material tests we ended up making a small test quilt:

Mylar proved quite a difficult material to work with as it is fragile and prone to tearing. Despite this, the first test quilt was a success. Nonetheless, we decided to continue experimenting to see if there was a better way of attaching mylar to hessian. For the second test quilt we drew inspiration from the cross shaped ties used by Kate Henderson in her quilt Polka Dot, exhibited at Gallery76 as part of ‘Toward Abstraction: An exhibition of modern quilts‘:

With two successful tests under our belts we decided to move on to the real thing. In the next installment of this series I will provide some insight into the creation of the wagga itself.

Emergency Blankets is supported by the NSW Government through Create NSW.