Thursday, September 1, 2011

Drought

I have to say that my first association with the colour Orange was the livery of the European Airline Easyjet. I have not always had happy experiences in my dealings with them and have long said that for a comoany who seem adept at failing to give customers information,surrounding said frustrated passengers with livid orange does not seem to be the most calming of environments. It has certainly created within me a deep seated negative association with bright orange so perhaps I can be forgiven for not being immediately elated with the firm instructions given that I was not to ammend the hue to the beautiful burnt umbers or autumnal tones I do love so much.

So what to do? Turn to Google Images of course. Some combination of words like orange and Africa led me to the drought map I posted earlier. Of course, that harsh unforgiving orange is just right for the destructive, unforgiving equatorial sun. Having got my idea, I inspected my stash. Hmmm. I have not been taking Easyjet aversion therapy and buying nasty orange fabric. Nor, due to the delayed state of my studio construction and consequent strewing about the masterbedroom in teetering random piles of my quilting equipment was I in a positon go and easily dye any.

So, taking my life in my hands I reached into the bottom of a pile of boxes and extracted some orange acrylic paint and a brayer. I took a piece of fabric I had dyed for the spice challenge but had never ironed. ( And possibly never rinsed. I forget). I sat on the bedroom floor (paint can only improve the hideous inherited carpet) and set to. I put some electrical cables that were lyng around under a plastic bag in which a duvet had been delievered placed the crinkled paper on top , squeezed paint onto another bag, coated the brayer and ran it over the fabric. Voila parched earth. The quilting was done to emphasise the bumpy surface .
The composition thereafter was inspired by photos of the refugee camps I had been looking at when browsing Google and thinking about a theme of borders and fences. Is the fence keeping them in for security purposes? (Fences in these camps are not about protecting from theft but women from sexual assault from men roaming outside). Or it it a more metaphorical barrier standing between them and the life they left behind? Either way it is likley that these women walked many tens of miles burying children along the way.

12 comments:

Gerrie said...

Helen, you have made a tragic situation beautiful. Having seen many scenes of the women trudging through the scorched earth, I know that the beauty is evident. The metaphor of the fences is so true.

Karen said...

The message is strong, Helen, I feel the heat. Your women seem strong and defiant despite their adversity, or maybe I just want them to feel that way.

Helen Conway said...

Karen the word I had in mind as I made them was resilient.

Brenda said...

I too associate orange with budget airlines, and real estate agents too - not always happy memories.

I can feel the heat rising from the earth in your piece. That shimmery illusion that occurs in the desert is enhanced by the curved outlines of the women. But it is the addition of the broken fence in the foreground that really makes this work.

Nikki said...

I, too, feel the heat! And your background makes it even hotter.

Kristin L said...

We've made so many happy juicy orange pieces, it's nice to see the other side of the coin. Orange is just as much a dry, parched, hot color as it is a sweet, tropical one. The fence seems a bit heavy handed, but I like the gestural quality of the ladies.

donna!ee said...

excellent orange... :)

Terry said...

Helen, despite your aversion to bright orange, you have made it work so effectively! Your parched orange background is beautiful in its texture and color as well as communicating the feeling of heat so well. Your wonderfully simplified African women express so much and the fence is not only wonderful for its possible meaning, but a great compositional counterpoint to the figures.

Diane Perin Hock said...

I was lucky enough to see this in person and it's even more evocative seen up close. But once again you have a striking image with lots of interest, and the story that motivated it makes it so much more meaningful.

nicolette said...

The earthy orange colour is beautiful, you can indeed feel the heat. It’s a beautiful quilt of a tragic subject.

Terri Stegmiller said...

Your orange design definitely feels hot and dry. Your description of the women and the fences is portrayed well and I like how you added the colorful dresses.

Deborah Boschert said...

I am especially intrigued by the piece of orange cheese cloth that seems to have been snagged on the fence. I can sense that there is lots of textural hand stitching in this piece. I can't wait to see it in person. And I especially love the parched graphic design you created -- and your description of how you created it.