52" x 69"
It is quite strange. While other artists, coming from the media “painting” suddenly turn their interest into working with fabrics and textiles, it was totally the other way round in my case. While I may go back to quilting from time to time and test my inspirations on rather unusual themes and materials again, it was the creation of fabric images and quilting that brought me back to painting, that I stopped doing for various reasons many many years ago.
Especially this art quilt motivated me to try my hand on painting again. Maybe you can compare it (although that comparison really sucks but I could not find any better) to those child’s painting pattern books, where the motifs are already outlined and the kid only chooses the colours to fill up the forms.
The longer I think about this I realize painting quilts can be really pattern painting. You already have a form outlined with the quilting lines. Now you only need to fill out the forms. That’s how I started to paint the quilts. Later on – depending on the image – I worked the other way round: first finished the painting, finally did the quilting after that. But this is an entirely different story and the techniques are others than in this art work.
At this stage I did still a lot of experimenting. First of all I had to cope with working on silk which is not only slippery but reacts to quilting lines completely differently than a piece of cotton or any other fabric. Silk produces a relief and does not stay flat, unless you use a stabilizer on the back, which is normally glued to the fabric, using the heat of an iron.
But I did not want to do that – I wanted the relief and those lovely shadows it would produce and I wanted that 3-dimensional feel.
Here are some details:
So painting on this piece of cloth was a real experiment, especially as I did not want the colours to flow beyond the quilting stitches. I did not want to use a resist either because then I would have had to wash the quilt again or would have got it dry cleaned which I did not want to do either. Each washing cycle or dry cleaning would take a little bit off the shimmer of the silk.
But with a special technique, painting with quite dry brushes, I achieved exactly what I wanted.
The “Apasara” motifs existed in my head a long time before I even travelled to Southeast Asia. Memories from the 70’s and Indian influences that flooded the western countries during the hippy era did already exist in rudimentary pieces in my brain. Through the years of travelling I developed a greater interest for the culture of the Khmer and I studied many photo documentaries in books and on film.
Although I have never been in Cambodia physically I got to know the country and its people through tales and contacts outside the country itself – many Cambodians still live in exile and have found new homes.
And although the heritage of the Cambodian people is subject to the UN and their tasks to protect the world’s biggest human heritages, there is still a huge deficit regarding the education and support of the people. Suffering from decades of murder and suppression of the Pol Pot regime the Cambodian people just starts to re-define its identity and build up a new valuable life. But they still need help.
In order to keep up the memories about a culture that has been nearly extincted I decided to create this silk quilt. I kept close to the rather flat style of presenting figures as can be found in basreliefs and paintings. Intriguing for me was the incredible detail of the Apsara figures, the detail of their jewellery and clothing. I love details in any respect be it in paintings or photography. Details are often overlooked but they are the essence of the bigger picture. It means you have to look close in each direction in order to perceive the complete picture.
I tried to reproduce that same love for detail that the ancient artists had for the wonderful sculptures in Khmer art.
The art quilt has been hand quilted with silk thread and hand painted. The reverse side of this art quilt has been appliqued with leaves and branches made of satin.
As usual the artquilt started as a drawing:
The motif was then transferred to the silk, all 3 layers of top, batting and back mounted together and then handquilted along the lines and finally painted.
A Fine Art Print of the quilt can be found here