Tuesday 1 May 2018

The Endeavourers #2, Change/Transformation - Cycles

Today is the day that The Endeavourers art quilt group reveal our second quilts.  This quarter's theme was Change or Transformation.

As usual it was a very thought-provoking theme!  The fact that it was thrown into the hat by four of our group was interesting in itself.  I guess that this subject has a lot of personal resonance.  So  my first thought was about change from the point of view of an individual human.  I also thought about the way that as we get older we become more layered - it would have been interesting to represent that in quilting.

Then I thought about change, especially transformation, in nature.  The transformation from caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly for example, or from seed to plant - which is always on my mind as I sometimes work as a gardener.

Transformation suggests a transition into something completely new, which would have been an interesting line of thought to follow, but then I started to think about change as cyclical.  Change and transformation can be positive or negative, but some change is just part of the ebb and flow of life, neither good nor bad.

Anyway...this takes me to the background to my quilt.    When we were lucky enough to travel in New Zealand a while back we went to visit the Kauri forest in North Island.  The trees there are almost inconceivably old and huge, and convey a sense of stillness (like columns in a cathedral) that fills you with awe, while life goes on about them. In contrast to this stillness tiny humans scurry around, and other vegetation moves in the breeze, like speeded up events in a time-lapse film. Some of these trees may be over 2000 years old, and they have just quietly stood there while many many changes have taken place in the world.

Closer to home and on a very much smaller scale, trees live through the cycle of the seasons.  This cyclical change was what I chose to represent in my little quilt.  This change is neither good nor bad, it's just part of the flow.


As the seasons pass, the sun moves across the sky and sinks lower in the horizon.   The leaves on the trees change colour and finally blow away, turning into birds who fly away in winter, only to return in the spring and begin the cycle of change again.

As the sun moves across the quilt it follows (nearly) a sine wave - I think there's something aesthetically pleasing about this shape and in the quilt it is there to reinforce the idea of a repeating pattern.

My trees are birches, which I think are very beautiful and textural.  (You can see my other quilt about birch trees here.)  I didn't want to fill the quilt with leaves as there is already a lot going on, and so I suggested the leaves with triangles, trying to capture the fractured and angular patterns of light you get when you look up through their rather sparse canopies.

The background is made using curved piecing which is densely quilted, leaves and birds are fused applique and the trees and suns are hand-sewn turned applique.  I added hand embroidery in thick perle cotton round the suns.  Materials are almost entirely shot cotton, with silk for the trees.

You can see all our quilts 'exhibited' together on our blog The Endeavourers, where you'll also find links to each individual member.  Please do have a look!

Shot cotton, silk
Curved piecing with dense quilting
Fused and hand-sewn turned applique
Hand and machine embroidery
17 x 22.5 inches


  1. Really lovely take on the theme - thanks for the close up photos, fantastic quilting.

  2. This is a beautiful interpretation. I love the close up photos :)

  3. oh wow, that is beautiful!

  4. I would have loved this quilt even without any back story, but it's so interesting to read what is behind every element of it. Also, birches are among my favourite trees :)

  5. I always love to read the thoughts behind your art quilts, Catherine. It is fascinating to me how your quilts start from a thought/s to a fabulous finished piece. Your talent both in thoughts, ideas, interpretation and quilting is truly astounding. Once again, a most fabulous quilt.

  6. This is just phenomenal. I love the leaves changing to birds and back.

    When you were talking about the age of the trees, it made me think -- I have always wanted to do a piece that showed the trees standing there solidly, with little figures rushing around in a blur, which is how I think we must appear from the trees' point of view. :)

  7. I love the amount of detail you mange to capture in your mini quilts Catherine and this one is no exception.

  8. The simple graphic way you've moved through the seasons really touched me. I also identified with your feeling of the tall tree as a cathedral, having lived among the California redwoods..they also sway in the wind and sound like ship masts creaking . I'm returning to art Quilting because creativity is what excites me. I'll be following the Endeavorers.

  9. It is such a beautiful quilt. I love everything about it. Love the photo of that magnificent tree and birch trees are amongst my favourites, I love painting them.


  10. This is just lovely, very simple but every detail is playing its part. As always, though, what I really, really like is reading your thought process, not just in making the piece but in approaching the theme.

  11. don't know how i missed this post, anyway, your trees are very gently moving with the birds. I like it.


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