Ver Sacrum means ‘holy spring’ or ‘sacred spring’.
I had this quilt up in my studio, until about a week ago. Now that my studio is more or less set back up, I’ve turned the wall space into design/inspiration space.
Ver Sacrum took about 3-4 years to complete. It started out as tree reflections on the water and I was originally going to appliqué lily pads on the surface. Then they became wintertime bare trees and I added floating leaves and two moths.
Then I wrote a haiku and figured out how to write the words onto the border – first I tried stitching them and then settled on stenciling with Markel oil paint sticks.
‘Winter leaves gently floating, silently witness Spring’s return’
I wasn’t sure about the quilting until I took a trip to Vienna a couple of years ago and became inspired by the Viennese Secessionist artists, eg Gustav Klimt, Karl Moser, Otto Wagner. Ver Sacrum was the name of a major Austrian magazine of the Jugendstil period published from 1898 to 1903. The publication gained great influence on art production around 1900. The artistic layout was in the hands of the artists of the Vienna Secession and thus familiarized a broad readership with the works of individual artists who were playing an important role in the development of modern art.
Finally, two winters ago, we had a very long, very cold winter. Lots of frosty days. I was walking to the bus stop in February wondering if spring would ever come that year.
The wild daffodil and wild primrose shoots were just starting to come through.
Then, there amongst the trees, I could could feel a feminine presence that had not been there before. A beautiful, heavily pregnant nude woman standing with her eyes closed and cradling her belly. . . and I knew that spring had returned.
I modelled the woman after my friend Anna who was my work colleague at the time. She was about to go on maternity leave. As her pregnancy progressed, she became more and more dreamy and would sit with her hands on her belly, adrift in another place.
What I love about this quilt is that it took so long to complete and I was able to go with the process and put it to one side until the next step along the way became clear. It taught me about my creative process and I learned to dialogue with the artwork and be guided by the work.
I also love it’s subtlety. A person needs to be with the quilt and really look to see all that is there – the words on the border, the moths fluttering with the falling leaves, the plants twining up from the ground and finally the woman standing quietly amongst the trees.
I’ve not entered it into competition because the studio photograph doesn’t reveal many of these subtleties and because the part inside the border is so heavily quilted that the borders are very ripply. I’m considering re-quilting the borders with invisible thread and hoping it won’t detract too much from the text (and will flatten the quilt out) and writing my entry to explain there is a lot of detail that needs to be seen in person and giving it a go.