quilting a story

Quilting a story

Quilting a story is an art.  Art quilting takes many forms, and is influenced by many factors.  I am influenced by news and events, current affairs, politics and my own emotions.  This particular quilt is therapeutic.

Someone’s War

Someone’s War tells the story of Someone’s struggle with mental health and depression.

Someone's war

About the quilt

The background for the quilt is a marbled fabric from Amafu.  Amafu is a fabric manufacturer in South Africa specialising in hand-dyed fabric.  You will never get the same piece of fabric twice.  In the same way, Someone’s experience of depression and how it affects her life is unique.  Professionals in mental health tell us about the signs that someone is planning suicide and what we can do about it.  Truth is that nobody can really know what is going on in Someone’s mind.   Chronic depression is a dark and lonely place to be in, and because it is chronic it is always with Someone, not over and done with, but a constant companion.

The quilting is bubbles on the outer parts and the closer it gets to the central figure, it becomes messy, but no jagged edges as some might expect.  It surrounds Someone like a cloud or foam.  The more she struggles, the more the cloud disintegrates and the bubbles burst.  Whilst doing the quilting, I had a vision of JK Rowling’s Obscurus from the movie “Fantastic Beasts and where to find them”.  I want to suggest that this is what it’s like to live with chronic depression, and the quilting is depicting this.

Someone's war quilting closeup


Someone is appliquéd on the background fabric, and stitched in rose coloured thread using a blanket stitch.  I chose to use batik which also gives varying colour ranges and patterns, to represent the complexity of human beings.

Someone is outlined in a rosy colour, because she presents a rosy outlook on life to those around her.  She pretends, in fact, she is probably the best actress in town.  Depression creeps up on her, always lying in the shadows, but the harder Someone fights it the more it becomes unravelled and ensnares her life.

The figure is quilted in straight vertical lines.  There are some rules that Someone follows in order to maintain some control over the chronic depression.  These rules make it possible to control, but doesn’t ensure it:

  1. Eat a healthy diet
  2. Exercise regularly
  3. Take medication
  4. Grow coping mechanisms and learn new ones

Someone isn’t perfect.  The left and right sides of the figure are not the same.  You can imagine her walking, standing still, it doesn’t really matter.  The movement or lack thereof is the effect mental illness has.  It immobilises Someone, making movement and change difficult and makes it harder to stick to the rules.

Final word

We have seen an increase in the number of suicides amongst celebrities and famous people. It has become acceptable to talk about depression and mental health, as long as you’re famous.  For the normal person on the street, it still creates stigma.

Statistics show that we have an epidemic of mental health illnesses.  I wonder whether the current “acceptance” has led to more people coming forward and claiming mental health issues, and that this is the reason for the increase in numbers.

Something to think about.

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