You will recall me asking whether it was important that the link between the theme and the resulting piece should be immediately obvious and you will I think see that I decided no it need not!
This quilt ( and I suspect a lot of future work) was inspired by the photographs of Carol Beckwith and Angela Fisher in a book called African Cememonies and its condensed version Passages. I was reading them when the theme was announced and the concept of an initiation ceremony where one transitions from youth to adulthood by way of sacred rituals seemed to be a version of metomorphosis. Originally I was planning to work more directly with images of body art from the Ghanaian Dipko ceremonies.
However, in the course of screenprinting experiments over the New Year I made this piece of cloth and it just begged me to become a Maasai inspired wholecloth quilt. Their ceremony is called 'eunoto' and is perfeormed roughly every seven years.
You may be aware that I have been working on developing a series based on African women. A while ago I took my simplified African ladies motif, exploded the shape then took part of those shapes and cut small stamps from erasers. This cloth was made by screenprinting random blobs of yellow and orange paint onto white PDF fabric then removing some of the paint to give the texture which you can see in the detail below. I then painted over some parts with a Stuart Gill Byzantia paint.
I cannot show you the precise photos which imspred me as they are copyright ( although I recommend you get a cheap second hand copy of Passages as I did) but I can tell you that the machine stitched cross hatched patterns in red and blue are inspired by traditional Maasi blankets like these. and the centre piece by traditional Maasai jewellery and draped beaded cords such as these , these and these
In the past I have been worried about making art based on a culture that is not mine but I think in the process of this piece I have worked through that. I will be doing more work along these lines and I am thinking of them not as being about African but as about how I imagine Africa. Not African images but my images dreamed up as I contemplate Africa. Maybe there is a series. Maybe it is called Africa Dreamed or African Imagined. We shall see.
In the meantime this quilt is about three layers of metomorphosis. It is about initiation ceremonies. It is about the transformation of a white piece of fabric into art cloth, of representational forms of women into abstract patterning and texture. And it is about the transformation of a dark windowless loft into a wonderful studio in which this quilt was made and its maker felt herself begin to transform from a catterpillar munching on the leaves of other people's instruction and influence into a butterfly artist, taking off for the first time under her own wings.