Monday, 6 August 2018

Thinking about Birmingham

I haven't done much sewing.  In fact I haven't done any.  But I haven't been entirely unproductive.  

I have taken to pieces the shirts I'm using for this quilt.  Sometimes they have already been prepared and are sitting in the box in nice neat rows but not always and not this time.  The dress/tunic/shirt thing was quite pleat-y and though I didn't think it looked very nice as a garment, it has yielded an encouraging amount of fabric. 

I have also been playing with my piles (photos below) and doing a lot of thinking.  
Here's where I've got to.  I think a lot about place/belonging/journeying.  This is a consistent preoccupation for me - what makes us feel like we belong? Is it people? Or a connection to the land, to a specific location?  Is it history? Can it  be a choice, a conscious decision?
Clearly I can't expect one quilt to answer all those questions for me so I tried thinking about specific times/places in my life.

When I was studying for my PhD I lived in Birmingham and was researching and writing around particular areas of local history.  Looking back I would say that understanding the city, knowing its past, the way it had grown, the ideas that had shaped it, were a big part of my sense of belonging.  I liked that I could stand on a nondescript street, just at the back of the city centre, waiting for the number 45 bus to take me down the Pershore Road, knowing the names of the roads that had been there a hundred years previously (though they had all been cleared to make way for the railway station).  I knew what sort of people had lived there and in what conditions, where they had come from, what they did for a living.  In some cases I knew their names, their family relationships, their ages. 

I am thinking that I will use maps of some of these areas as a starting point.  I'm not undertaking a literal translation of a map into quilt form and as yet only the vaguest idea of where this might head, but that's enough for now. 

14 comments:

Yvonne @Quilting Jetgirl said...

It's amazing how much fabric is some garments; pleats definitely add yardage! Knowing the history or feeling connected to the history of a location is really a huge part in a feeling of belonging. It's interesting that while I have not spent much time in some locations, just knowing that my father grew up there helps me have a sense of belonging (for instance).

Quiltdivajulie said...

Oh, I like how your thinking is progressing for this AHIQ challenge!

Libby in TN said...

I think belonging is a little bit of everything you mention. I feel I belong in our new place because the natural surroundings make me feel grounded and the folks I have met have let me know we belong!

Janie said...

Very exciting thinking. History, textiles, belonging, connected, all are deep rich words with different
meanings for all of us.
I think you're off to a good start.

Julierose said...

I really like how your fabrics are "playing" together in your photos...
i especially like that tan with light blue flower=ey print...very "zingey" hugs, Julierose

Ann said...

Oh, my. Are you thinking of mapping the erased roads? I love that you know so much history about Birmingham and think it will enrich your project. Interesting to consider feelings about an area rather than physical map limitations.

Robin said...

I think many of us are treating this mapping "theme" as a journey. I know I will be.

patty a. said...

I am still at a loss of what I am going to do for the challenge. A sense of belonging somewhere - that is something I struggle with. I don't feel a sense of belonging where I am right now.

O'Quilts said...

Interesting...now I thought that I just was not interested in this one...then...ideas began to creep into my mind all by themselves...so we will see.

Cathy said...

It will be very interesting to see how you explore the topic with a quilt!


From an early age I always knew I belonged in a garden.

Caroline Heinrichs said...

Interesting insights. I like your thinking of connections.

Deb @ Frugal Little Bungalow said...

You are always an inspiration :) I never thought about old clothes around here until you :) Granted, I've not done anything with them yet but it's there in the back of my mind :)

Mystic Quilter said...

I'm looking forward to this!!

Sandy Panagos said...

Those fabrics are great. Have fun playing!