Monday, 14 January 2013

The words for Life 6 - Still Life.

 This is the body stitched onto the cloth for Life 6 - Still Life.

It's a happy quilt about contentment.

The model will have an enigmatic smile and closed eyes, and be seated at a table with some pots and oranges, and half an orange on a plate.

And you know me, there's a reason for everything! Why half an orange? It's significant in China (explanation on the last posting) being a sign of good fortune and happiness.

And it's to do with the poem that's being stitched onto the body.

Apologies for the funny colour of the photo but my camera battery went flat on me this morning and there wasn't quite enough power to make the photo its proper white colour. The stitching is white on white cloth.

The words are from a poem called The Orange, and it's by Wendy Cope. (below)

I've made a start on the piecing for the cloth she's leaning on, so it's all coming together well.
The Orange
by Wendy Cope

At lunchtime I bought a huge orange-
The size of it made us all laugh.
I peeled and shared it with Robert and Dave -
They got quarters and I had a half.

And the orange, it made me so happy,
As ordinary things often do
Just lately. The shopping. A walk in the park.
This is peace and contentment. It's new.

The rest of the day was quite easy.
I did all the jobs on my list
And enjoyed them and had some time over.
I love you. I'm glad I exist.


  1. Wha a very moving poem Annabel. Gently amusing but emotional too. I've heard of Wendy Cope but not read any of her work. Looks like I've been missing out.

  2. It is very interesting following the proces.

  3. For some reason that poem made me cry! Maybe because that is where I could be if I let myself! Still too much art to create first! I'm looking forward to seeing her finished! She will be serene!

  4. I just LOVE that poem Annabel - to be able to fel the joy of the everyday and simple is a gift, especially when you have been deprived of it - I must look up the poet and read some more. I'm so glad S is going on a contented quilt too - just right for her. Life 5 is quite stunning - the way you have combined the complexity of the Geisha' situation with any young unmarried mothers anxst is very moving. I am intrigued though - do yuo know the whole story when you start the quilt? I know life 5 started as Shall I be Lother, as a simple use of an English phrase with the Oriental Tea Ceremony. When did the pregnancy, and the Geisha evolve? Same in Life 6 - you have started with Still Life, and I know were looking for lemons, when the oranges made themselves known. So the Orange poem came after the title ... which means the meaning keeps evolving and acquiring layers of complexity? Answers on a postcard please x

  5. What ho Hils,

    Blimuss, that's a whole ton of questions old bean. Where to start? Well first of all thanks for your lovely comments. The poem seemed perfect for the job but took me ages to find and I had to trawl loads of guff to get to it.About 12 hours of non stop poetry reading. I went from Shakespeare through the Romantic poets and ended up with Wendy Cope somehow. I've always been a fan ever since reading Titch Miller which had me in tears.

    Steph was going to be about Still Life from the beginning, but my original idea was to find words for those few moments we all snatch now and then, when all the bustle stops, and your jobs are done, and the house is empty, and you sit in the sun and your eyelids droop! Still life from an art point of view is about pots and skulls and fruit and anything else you want to put in so the play on words was there from the start.

    The orange happened after a conversation with Laura. I was going to use lemons as a contrast to all the blue and white I'm using, but it was pointed out that lemons aren't grown in China but oranges are. A quick swap ensued. The orange poem came afterwards but clicked into place. When things click like that, you have to go with them.

    I can't say the same thing always happens. It seems to be the title that sparks it off, then I sit and dream of an idea, but it always changes and adapts as I go along. Things magically seem to happen and I don't know why or how - meanings become obvious to me and items become symbolic. Life 5 started with research about the japanese tea ceremony, and it made me think of our own tea ceremonies - especially the phrase shall I be mother. It's one I use a lot. The two just pinged together one day and the rest just happened. The words for the geisha were hard to come up with and stumped me for a while, but I do remember reading somewhere about abortion being common for geisha, and wondered how they felt about it - being sold, trapped by culture, and paying off training debts etc, which is slavery by any other name, needing to work for those reasons, but being human too. The juxtaposition of the thoughts against the development of the baby just happened.

  6. Thanks for all that info old sock - I thought it might be like that. I think that when things happen so serendipitously ,it's a sign we are in line with we are meant to be doing xx

  7. Just loved your work in the Through Our Hands exhibition - I went back 3 times. So I'm very excited to find there are more of the same, either completed or in the pipeline. Reading this blog reminded me of the line in Leonard Cohen's song 'Suzanne' "She feeds you tea and oranges that come all the way from China"

  8. Thank you Jane - I'm so pleased you liked the exhibition. 3 times!! Fab :) I had forgotten that song so thanks for the reminder - very apt. There are 3 more quilts planned after this one and will be 10/12 in the series...unless I just keep going of course!