Welcome to tales of my stitching life, home, family and friends.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Quilts at the Library

Our local library is very special.  Librarian Linda Fletcher, who runs the monthly Book Club which I attend, has recently had a book launch there of her book “Horowhenua and the Great War 1914-1918”.   This is the culmination of a research project, begun in 2006, to identify all the casualties named on Horowhenua's war memorials.  The book details the lives of all 188 men from the district who died in the war, telling their stories through letters from the front and newspaper obituaries.

To complement Linda’s book launch, the library has been showing a marvellous  collection of quilts with a WW1 theme on loan from the very talented Erilyn McMillan of Palmerston North.  She has a particular interest WW1 through family connections and military service.  Erilyn feels that these stories need to be told, and has done this with her beautiful quilts.

“Dawn Service, Linton Military Camp, Anzac Day”.   The dawn breaks over the Tararua Ranges and lights up the sky.  The camp is portrayed by the iconic Phoenix Palms and a soldier in his lemon squeezer hat stands with his head bowed in contemplation. 

PB090007Dawn Service, Linton Military Camp, Anzac Day

“The Western Front – a snapshot of our darkest days”.  Made of of “postcards”, this quilt illustrates the use of tanks, gas, and the terrible knee high mud the soldiers had to live,  fight and die in.  Sadly, Erilyn discovered through her research that many of the soldiers died by “other causes”, by firing squad.  

PB090009 The Western Front

“Lest We Forget”.  Memorials arouse deep motions, and the local war memorial says much about the beliefs and values of New Zealanders.  Figures of soldiers, arches, gates, obelisks and clock towers, even clock towers, all play their part in remembering the fallen.  With touches of green leaves and the fallen red poppies, this lovely quilt in tones of grey is a lovely memorial indeed.  
 PB090011 Lest we forget

“The Nation’s Most Gallant Sons”.  The starting point was making the face of Victoria Cross recipient, Cpl Willie Apiata, the only living member, using just four fabrics.  Erilyn then decided to honour all of the VC recipients.  The first to receive this award was Charles Heaphy, the only VC awarded to a member  of the Colonial Forces during the New Zealand Wars.  Erilyn printed the faces of the other recipients onto paper towels, encased with netting, and the Victoria Cross was printed on organza, all stitched over a pieced background.

PB090013 The Nation’s most Gallant Sons

“Gallipoli”, the title of this quilt is made up of daisy fabric, and represents the “Daisy Patch” on the peninsula.  As the New Zealanders prepared to charge, fellow soldiers asked, “You’re not going to charge across the daisy patch, are you?”    “Of course we are”, the Aucklanders answered.  “God help you”, was the reply.  Erilyn machine stitched barbed wire, sand bags, stones and wind, all part of everyday life for the men.

PB090015 Gallipoli

“Private James Duncan”.  This quilt is made to honour Eriyn’s grandfather, who served on the Western Front in the Medical Corps.  His military story is pictured on body tags, and the medal ribbons are the original silks from his ribbons, which have been replaced with new ribbons.  This very personal piece of work features photos, badges, and buttons, and a copy of the Certificate of Service.  What a wonderful family heirloom.

PB090018Private James Duncan

The Last Post”  is a military bugle or trumpet call to signal the end of the day.  It is also played at ANZAC services and at military funerals.  The raw edges of the fabric were left frayed to convey the feeling of edginess, a shiver down the spine, and a tear in the eye, just as it can do at the Dawn Service on Anzac Day.  Erilyn made the bugler small we often only hear the music, and not see the musician.

PB090020 The Last Post

“In Flanders Field” – what is more iconic than the images of poppies?  Erilyn depicts this so beautifully with her quilt.
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below

PB090022 In Flanders Field

Erilyn likes to work in this one particular size for her WW1 quilts and they are full of details and exquisite quilting.  She has ideas for a few more stories to be told in this series of WW1 quilts, she told me.  Then she will probably start on a WW2 series – there are many stories to tell from this time in history too.

No comments: