The story behind the quilt.

I remember vividly being really upset when someone said to me "you only made that quilt because you know the Americans like it"

They were talking about the American Gothic quilt that went on to win many awards.

Little did they know the tragic story behind why I made it.

The reason for making it had been a journey since I was 11 years old and I just couldn't believe that  someone would make a comment like that without knowing the facts.

I make quilts for personal and emotional reasons not to win prizes. I could never sell a quilt because I have poured too much of my soul into it.

Today I had to write an outline for this quilt.

Urban landscapes.

This is not a beautiful quilt.

However, it has more meaning than most of my quilts. It tells a story that is quite emotional for me.


I travel a lot.

I carry my quilts with me and at the airport I’m always nervous until the case turns up on the carousel. (that's why I now carry bright green ones)

A few years ago, traveling from New York to London. I arrived in good spirits but tired. I was looking forward to getting to my hotel and relaxing before my scheduled film shoot.

The Carrousel went round and round…. No luggage.
I didn’t panic because it has happened many times before.

I we assured it would be on the next flight which arrived in an hour and I was given a place to sit in the terminal where I could wait and see the luggage arrive.

The next flight arrived…. No luggage.

A slight panic set in.

The next flight arrived…No luggage.

After waiting for 5 hours, I was  told they had no record of my luggage. Despite having the bag tags, American Airlines had no Electronic trace on them.

Shattered I left the airport for my hotel and in a state, I inadvertently left my camera bag on the trolley. I realized that I had done so as soon as I was through security and tried to slip back through the secure section but the bells and sirens went off and I was hauled off to explain my actions… could it get any worse.
3 hours later I retrieved the camera bag.

At the hotel with nothing, but my computer and camera I fell into a deep sleep, imagining that the bags would arrive that evening as promised.

4 days passed and still no information.

I missed my film shoot.

I had to buy the basics to get through and on the 5th day, in deep depression and with the loss of 100 quilts, I decided to go home to Australia.

I thought I will do one final photo shoot and took off for the Spitalfields Markets which was near my hotel.

I shot photos relentlessly, I never aim the camera a people, but I did on this occasion. Many scuttled away as if trying to hide their persona.
I talked to people who asked why I was photographing and I lost myself in the moment.
One man followed me around for an hour, chatting aimlessly.

I had four hours of relief from stress and when I returned to the hotel, there was a note to say my bags would be there soon.

I laid down on the bed and slept for 5 hours straight.

My bags arrived late in the evening.

What does this have to do with the quilt?

It was made to heal from that trauma.

The stress doesn't leave you when you're home because you have to do it over and over again. I figured I would work my stress out by creating a quilt.

The Graffiti images are my photos taken on that day and printed them on canvas. They were bright, faceless and provided a clear image of hope in a sea of gray urban-ism.

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I saw young men, skating,  relaxing, unaware of my personal drama.


I enjoyed creating my own personal tag PKH, in fabric.

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But the quilting and the texture was significant in capturing the moment in fabric.

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I auditioned the quilting to signify my panic.

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I added dyed cheesecloth, and other pieces of fabric and attempted to construct the image of an urban landscape in fabric.

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I don’t know if I achieved the texture, but its an interesting quilt.

It was the first time I had used the cheese cloth to create a textural image.

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So when you look at a quilt – do you ever wonder about the meaning behind it?

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Pam thank you for sharing your story behind Urban Landscapes. You asked “So when you look at a quilt – do you ever wonder about the meaning behind it?” My answer is Absolutely! For the life behind the quilt.. the one making the quilt is far more important in the scheme of life. Many won’t, or more likely, are unable to share their stories beyond the expression they have put into the art but the people and their stories are as fascinating as the art. Thanks again- Barb

  2. Pam says:

    Barbara, I agree with you.
    Wouldn’t it be interesting to have book about the stories behind the quilts.!!!!

  3. Katherine says:

    Thank you Pam for sharing this quilt, it has a wonderful vibrancy with all those different textures. And yes, I always wonder about the story behind every quilt!

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