Quiet Labour QR Quilt

QUIET LABOUR : QR QUILT

Historically quilts have been made by women and have been regarded throughout history as women's work, and belittled by the art canon as ‘just a craft’. Yet according to Rozsika Parker in ‘The Subversive Stitch’ (1984) the prominence and significance of quilts and textiles as a medium of significance is beginning to be acknowledged, in some cases as a subversive act of defiance.

Legend has it that there was an Underground Railroad Quilt Code, in which a safe house was often indicated by a quilt hanging from a clothesline or windowsill along the Underground Railroad. These quilts were embedded with a kind of code, so that an enslaved person on the run could know the area’s immediate dangers or even where to head next by reading the shapes and motifs sewn into the design.

At its center, a quilt is an assemblage of historical and creative cues in the form of fabrics, shapes, symbols, textures and colors. Quilts are often made to commemorate important family events such as marriage, a birth, or moving to a new place. Often made from scraps of old dresses, burlap sacks, and dish cloths, it gives physical, even functional, form to a family or individual’s past and present.

Working in collaboration with Archives PEI and local communities to research traditional textiles and natural dye plants of the area, I will create a quilt using the fabrics I have naturally dyed as part of the residency.

The quilt will be assembled in such a way that the design is a QR code, that can be scanned using today’s smartphone technology. Upon scanning the quilt the viewer will be taken to an online video I have created that documents the quiet labour involved with collecting the plants for natural dye, cutting and piecing the quilt.

The video will be created using 16mm analogue film technology where the black and white film is processed naturally using a plant solution as the developer, and a salt water brine to fix the developing process.

Created using recycled materials gifted and thrifted fabrics imbued with significance and meaning, the project embodies the quiet labour of plant collecting, making natural dyes, and hand sewing the quilt.

The QR Quilt has the potential for the viewer to scan it with their phone, taking them to a video that documents the intricate and intimacy of the labour of the making process.

About PEICC

August 23 - September 6, 2021

Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada