Saturday, May 1, 2010

In memoriam

For the first time ever I did two quilts for this challenge. I think this is the one I will choose as my official Twelve quilt. It does not look anything like the one I set out to make in my head.

As you all know I set myself a challenge to add social themes to my works in this challenge.This time, just as I started to work on it, I learned that the 24 year old son of a dear friend of mine had committed suicide having struggled with depression and anxiety.  I decided this quilt would be my tribute to him. I had clever-clever ideas involving wire mesh and 3D shapes that could be scrunched up and black enveloping the colour.... but this quilt did not want to be like that. Nothing worked. It was a sad mess.

So I just decided to throw together a quilt with the right colours thinking about lava flow and have done. I  made this one first. I used abaca tissue for the verticle red and orange strips - my first time with that product.
And then, liking the design but feeling it did not reflecct my mood I reversed the colours.
 Just as the  unexpected erruption of Eyjafjallajökull came from deep under the surface, so an explosive desperation can lie hidden beneath what seems like a normally lived life. One in four adults will suffer some kind of mental illness at some time in their lives. By comparison, the risk of a woman getting breast cancer is one in eight and yet there is far more publicicty and fund raising for that illness.  Just because depression  and anxiety are not visible does not mean they are not a real and significant disease.  In the UK, suicide is the most common cause of death in men under 35. If you or any one you know is suffering, help and advice can be found here.

The young man in question was a fine, popular man with so much potential. I know his family were extremely proud of him and he certainly deserved that pride. I have not yet asked his family for permission to name him in this context, so he shall remain anonymous at present. Nontheless, this quilt is in his memory.


Helen Conway said...

As a by-the -by: my personal theme turned out not to be so far from the volcano theme, as my research showed that in Japan a regular suicide method is to jump into an active volcano. I am sorry my contribution this time is on the miserable side. I shall try for a happy theme next time!

Gerrie said...

Helen, dear, happiness is sometimes overrated. Having dealt with this threat, I am moved to tears by your offering and your explanation of how the misery lies beneath the surface, waiting to erupt.

My condolences to your friends on the loss of a child - a most difficult event.

Terri Stegmiller said...

I'm saddened to hear about your friend's loss. I will say that your quilts are both extremely wonderful and I'm having a hard time picking one over the other as a favorite.

Gerrie said...

I forgot to say that I like the second piece just because I love the reddish background.

Karen said...

What a touching tribute to your friends son. I have such a hard time putting emotional issues into my pieces, and I think you are so great at conveying what you're feeling

Diane said...

Ah, Helen -- a lovely and thoughtful response. I very much like your composition and agree that the orange against the black is stronger than your first version -- and I can see this as an excellent representation of outward appearance and energy distracting from a dark and sad inner core. I really appreciate your bring attention to the common and serious effects of depression in such a beautiful way. What a lovely tribute to your friend's son.

Terry said...

I can add little to what the others have said so well, except that I see a quiet, peacefulness in your piece, almost like wind chimes or prayer flags rippling in the breeze. Perhaps unintended, but it could represent the peace the young man was seeking and perhaps found. Sadly, I can't imagine that his family finds any peace in his decision. Don't apologize for its mood. It is neither morbid, nor exploitative, just very sad food for thought.

Kristin L said...

They are both very effective. I get the volcano colors and I think that the metaphor for depression under the surface is a good bit of background. As the memoriam is not obvious, I don't think these pieces are depressing at all -- just contemplative. At first I was leaning towards the orange on black one because it looks more "volcano" to me, but the dark black on top of the simmering oranges of the second one speak more to the story of depression and suicide. In the end, I think they need to be displayed side by side as a pair hinting at what may lie below the surface, or that all is not what it may seem.

Deborah Boschert said...

Indeed. Life is often hanging in the balance. So many very interesting and wonderful details here. I like it very much.

nicolette said...

Wonderful quilts and a dear contribution to your friends’ son!

Often translating sad feelings brings out the best in artists!

Annette said...

Hello, I just wanted to say thankyou for tackling such a deep, and yes, common subject. As a person who has had and has depression of varying degrees and also breast cancer I have to agree with your words re the unseen disease. My son has had a good friend take his own life. The impact is unimaginable.
I just wanted to say thankyou..
Love both works and would love to see them displayed side by side.