Friday, 13 November 2015

Fresh Air and Poverty

Lois Blackburn working on Fresh Air and Poverty, at Buxton Library

We're in Buxton library for our quilting project Stitching the Wars. This has been a two year journey through hundreds of Derbyshire people's memories. Reminiscence about the world wars and the effect that war had on farming communities has been written down - sometimes as oral history, sometimes as poetry - and then stitched into quilts.

The pieces have great power and richness, to our eyes - but what do other people think? These last two days have been an open editing session in which Lois stitched together the patchworked reminiscence while I edited poems. Three enthusiastic volunteers helped with the huge stitching job. Meanwhile, library users and staff came over and commented on the work in progress. We were nervous about this public debut for the quilt-in-progress, but needn't have worried. The response was warm hearted, curious and delighted.

Janice and her embroidery at Buxton Library

Fresh Air and Poverty, work in progress

The quilt deals with difficult subject material, poverty and strife. But the colours and the sumptuous fabrics contrast with the theme, playing against type so that this piece is one of the most charming things arthur+martha has ever made for the eye. The dazzle of it certainly seduced many of our early-doors audience. However, the text interwoven through it is a more uncomfortable proposition and has yet to be completed. Perhaps there is still a little room for some nervousness...

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