In and Out the Soppy Bluebells

The Story of a 1950’s Childhood

In and Out the Soppy Bluebells.
In and Out the Soppy Bluebells.

This piece of work was made for the New International Quilt Exhibition at the Shipley Art Gallery in Gateshead. In addition to regular quilters 2 textile artists, of whom I was one, who did not normally work on quilts were asked to produce contributions.

At the time for personal reasons I did not want to engage with anything from my adult life so I decided to reach far into the past to explore the time of my growing up, when everything was reliable, if a little dull. This piece, measuring 7 feet by 8 feet, was made in over 60 pieces which were then assembled. Appropriate fabrics were then worked in around them & then quilted with text & free machine embroidery. Every section tells different stories from my childhood, of school, holidays, excursions & the strange ways of adults. The fabrics used are mainly recycled silk, layered to allow distressing which showed the older layers beneath to symbolize the part buried layers of memory as they wear away with re-use.

In & Out the Soppy Bluebells. Detail.
In & Out the Soppy Bluebells. Detail.

This detail demonstrates how each section is embellished with stories that highlighted its life.

The Happiest Days of Your Life
The Happiest Days of Your Life.

This group of pieces centres on the topic of school & the title is mildly ironic. The liberty bodices were a favourite device of mine at the time. The left hand one, titled Are You Wearing Your Liberty Bodice? encapsulates the nagging maternal voice of childhood.

The Measles Party.
The Measles Party.

This is a remake of the house in the quilt & tells the story of how when a child caught measles others were encouraged to visit so that they would catch it too. This was so that they wouldn’t do something stupid like catch it when they were supposed to be taking the 11+. This is not considered acceptable behaviour today, but hardly anybody takes the 11+ any more anyway. There are also other cheerful tales of a 50’s childhood included.

Mother & Daughter. Growing Up to Be a Lady in the 1950's.
Mother & Daughter. Growing Up to Be a Lady in the 1950’s.

This is an older piece with lots of recycled, distressed materials.

Hold Out Your Hand

This piece of work is full of songs & stories from junior school & using layers of recycled silk to show the styles of the 50’s in school dresses & school decor.

3 Little girls' dresses of the 1950's.
3 Little girls’ dresses of the 1950’s.
Competing with Your Cousin.
Competing with Your Cousin.
Tea with Your Auntie.
Tea with Your Auntie.
Enough Blue Sky to Make a Sailorman a Pair of trousers.
Enough Blue Sky to Make a Sailorman a Pair of trousers.