I’ve posted a few times about this work along the way. (See August 16 and August 31) This past week I pulled all the pieces together and finished the quilt.
Here’s the emotional tone I want to capture: The burned house… portraying what is not there. A place that exists and does not. Ambiguity and dream-like memory.
This is my inspiration:
In the burned house I am eating breakfast.
You understand: there is no house, there is no breakfast,
Yet here I am.
the opening lines of the poem “Morning in the Burned House” by Margaret Atwood. Because I love this poem, I worked to give myself time to let it develop, to honor the poem that inspired me.
There were times along the way that I was really discouraged. I liked individual parts, but I didn’t feel it had “clicked.” I returned again to the poem, re-reading and absorbing. Then I noticed the illustration on the cover of the book. It depicts a bird cage, in a dream-like environment. That was the image I needed to complete the work. There is no bird or cage described in this poem. But the whole sense of it is about being tied to a place while having moved away from it. The bird and the cage seem the perfect metaphor.
A few details:
The table and breakfast utensils are physically described in the poem.
Everything in this house has long been over,
kettle and mirror, spoon and bowl, including my own body,
Including the body I had then,
Including the body I have now,
As I sit at the morning table, alone and happy.
I depicted the bowl floating, not tied to the table surface. This is a way to invite the viewer to see this as a memory or dream.
Making the window a prominent part of the composition is my own addition. This window photo has appeared in several of the quilted pieces. (It has been transferred to muslin from a laser copy print-out of my digital original.) I like this photo a lot, mostly because of its emotional quality. To me, in this composition it suggests emptiness. From the poem:
Where have they gone to, brother and sister,
Mother and father? Off along the shore,
Perhaps. Their clothes are still on the hangers,
Their dishes piled beside the sink,
Here’s the completed quilt.
A nice serendipity of fabric: Earlier this summer, I experimented with printing fabric with rust. I love the deep and unpredictable results. Most of that fabric went into another work. But, I had some scraps left, and I like they way they evoke the presence of fire in this work.
One of the great pleasure of being a collage artist is this: There is the chance to discover scraps, created for some other purpose, and finding a place for them to have a purpose again.
Thank you for reading. I always enjoy questions and comments.
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