September 8, 2012
Some weeks just go by their own quiet way and rhythm. I do not mean a routine because there seems to be something special in each day. In some weeks though there are events out of the ordinary, people and places you will remember. The week described here was one of those.
Monday is sometimes a day when I try cooking new recipes. Pies or quiches are amongst my favourites. Some of them I find reading blogs such as Tammy’s. Her blog is not only about food but also about community supported agriculture. Well worth reading.
The recipe is about a tomato pie. Since I had a big and beautiful zuchini waiting to be picked in the garden, I added some of it in the pie (grated and grilled a little). This is the only change I made. It tasted really delicious, Thank you very much, Tammy.
On Tuesday I had to go to town and found a quiet lane to walk for a while with Nino-the-beagle. Guess whom we met ? Another beagle looking lonely behind a fence. What do two beagles say to each other when they meet : “Let’s escape together and go hunting !”
Wednesday morning. Brilliant clouds welcomed me as I opened the shutters. “O, beautiful golden clouds, what will you bring us on this day” ? As it happened, the warm morning turned into a stormy day. A rather temperamental weather this Summer but a rain that was well needed too.
A short break after work on Thursday afternoon. As we were sitting on a bench with a friend, a “school-boat” was floating down the canal. A lady was steering the little boat back to its mooring. Not as simple as it looks and she did very well.
On Saturday morning at our friend’s home, we were awaken by a ballet of helicopters. Every third minute or so, a helicopter would fly over the area, fill a big bucket of water (700 liters) and pour it down on the forest which had caught fire during the night. It took the pilots two whole days to stop it. Nobody was injured and the damage could be stopped in time.
Sunday was a happy celebration day ! Family and friends gathered around Alima, our youngest niece. The sun shone brightly for her. There were prayers, songs, dance and lots of African food and music. Another change of scenery in this particular week. Alima was quite comfortable and relaxed dancing in her proud grandmother’s arms.
Guess what I did on Sunday ? After a rest following the previous long day, I sat down on a lovely terrace between sky and earth, took my pen and some nice stationary; I wrote to a dear friend all about my recent week. Internet is not part of her world and we both enjoy exchanging letters every month.
May 27, 2011
How do I know about it ? That is a real nice story. One that happened thanks to Internet, quilting, a painting class of 15 students between 15 and 18 and their dedicated art teacher, Renee Sonka, in the heart of the Midwest, Minnesota.
From Africa to Switzerland and on to Minnesota/USA
or how African fabrics are inspiring and travelling !
You may remember this quilt of mine, an African mosaic I posted on January 2009 as I started this blog. It is a logcabin pattern made with countless scraps of fabrics I brought back home after a stay in Africa with my family.
The art teacher, R. Sonka, had a particular project in mind for her painting class. It was entitled : AFRICAN TEXTILES as inspiration for mixed media paintings. The designed plans were to study the textiles, infuse mixed media, think about subject and meaning, become the composer, develop sketches and realize one’s idea !
In addition the students were to create a larger collaborative painting where each of them would be responsible for small sections of the whole. Together with the picture of the quilt, I had also posted a detail of it. This is what the students chose to create painted versions of sections of my quilt.
This is the collaborative painting of a section of my quilt ! I cannot express how honored, admirative and touched I am as I look at the work of those 15 talented students. They used acrylic paint on canvas. Never would I have imagined that my quilt could be such a source of inspiration. It is a beautiful project and you can all be very proud of all you achieved !
The other three pictures represent individual compositions designed by students. More inspiration from patterns, textures, colours found in African textiles. They used acrylic paint on plywood, some include other materials such as fabric, cardboard and raffia.
Panel created by Greta Gangestad
Panel created by Annette
The art teacher, R. Sonka, sent me all those pictures, for which I am very grateful and happy to share with you. Thank you Renee for all your mails and details; without them I would probably not have been able to explain well enough the development of this great project.
This is the school Art Show that represents the drawing, painting and ceramics classes. A beautiful compilation of weeks of work, individual and collaborative. I like this concept very much.
Here is a link about the Art Show and the Mounds Park Academy in Saint Paul/MN.
January 22, 2011
This is one of my favourite quilts. I sewed it some years ago using African fabrics only. It is rather small (1m x 80 cm) and it is made with scraps of materials from various countries in West and Central Africa. A long road along the markets of Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Congo.Most of its patterns are symbolic. These simple cotton fabrics are textile words. Those who know their language can read the social status, the affiliation to a particular brotherhood, culture or the area the materials were designed in and on what particular occasion.
This pattern was printed on a traditional African dress called boubou. I was told it represented jewelry (earring ?). The name of this piece of material is : “My husband is rich”. Obviously !
I could not find the designation for all patterns but thanks to a wonderful book (at the end of this post) there are a few I can share with you.
Women grinding millet, a daily work in African villages.
Warriors´ signs. On the left there is “The Brave´s Belt” (ce farin jala). A symbol of the belt a soldier or a warrior wears around his waist before setting off for battle. On the right, a mask or a shield.
“Of threads and words” could be the translation for this wonderful book featuring many precious pieces of clothing belonging to kings, heads of tribes, clans or areas of various cultures in West and Central Africa. Sometimes symbols have been sewed or weaved on bark or raffia clothing. These unique pieces have been also represented on more common sorts of materials. As on the cotton fabrics I collected here and there.
What I cannot share with you here is the soft touch of the local cotton. A lot of materials I used have been worn, washed on stones along a river or in a pond, then dried in the hot sun. The original colours have vanished a little but the cotton texture has sometimes become as soft as silk or muslin. So pleasant to sew and quilt !
May 9, 2010
The mother was standing at the side of a country road on the highlands of Madagascar, her baby snuggled on her back. She was selling wild flowers and a few oranges, tomatoes, rice and this special kind of spinach they grow there, “brèdes” (a French name I found no translation for).I stopped and asked to buy the flowers and some tomatoes. I never tasted again such sweet tomatoes. The lady was shy, her baby curious and serious. They both looked so beautiful and in harmony, I asked her could I take a picture, please. The taxidriver translated this for me, she agreed with a half smile. Then a rapid conversation went on between the mother and the driver. I was to give the picture to her later. She never had had a picture of her and her baby. I did drive to this area again some weeks later, stopped in the curve and climbed a steep earth track to a hamlet of red houses. They were of the same colour of the soil, as if they had grown out of it. By the time I arrived, I was surrounded with children who screamed of excitement and brought mothers out of their homes. The shy lady was there, she embraced me gently and looked, and looked again at the picture, hardly believing it was her and her baby ! Emotion and laughter and… more demands for pictures
I took more pictures (with my precious Nikkormat!) and for some unfortunate reason, they were lost at the photographer’s in town. The mother and her child is the only one I still have of this episode. The village I went to looked very much like this one. This tapestry (cross-stitching with local wool on the lining of a well-worn carpet I was going to throw away !) is a unique gift I received from a dear friend as I left Madagascar.
So, these are my thoughts and good wishes for all mothers today, we celebrate their special day. Happy Mother’s Day to each and everyone of you ! A loving thought also for all mothers who will not celebrate with us but who stay in our heart forever.
Des mots d’enfants, kids sayings… and others’ who were kids too
“When mom is tired, why do I have to go to bed “?
“For the others, my mom may not be the most beautiful, but when one looks at her with My eyes, she is the prettiest”.
“A mother who tucks you in bed leaves behind a scent of sleep”
“Mothers always forgive; this is why they were born”.
“A mother’s love is like air : so obvious that one does not even notice it. Until one misses it”.
July 29, 2009
Some years ago a friend sent me the manuscrit of a book she had just written. The novel unfolded in South Africa, a story of love and adventure in a vast and beautiful country. Men and animals were never far from one another as soon as one left the big cities. Several episodes were set in colonial houses at teatime. Peace and quietness on luxuriant terraces or inside cool rooms. All around the houses there was wilderness, unindentifiable sounds and cries, strong smells and traces on the soil that meant : animals were close.
This story my friend wrote stayed in my mind for a while. I lived in Central Africa for a few years and those sights she described were alive in my memory and brought back images I thought I had forgotten.
One day as I sat in my sewing room, I came across a pretty English fabric : teapots, cups, flowers on tables, the perfect setting for teatime. Then I had this idea of sewing a quilt that would show my feelings as I read my friend’s novel.
It was not long before I found in my baskets of African fabrics all I needed to create my own story : Teatime in Jo’burg. A moment when animals would be even closer to men.
The main material was a green and golden batik I had bought in a women’s co-operative in Rwanda. The other fabrics came from various countries: Tanzania, Madagascar, Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso. Each with its own colour and symbols. A kind of United Colours of Africa.
It took me a few days only to sew the top, joining animals and cups of tea. My own version of my friend’s book. A quilt I truly enjoyed imagining and sewing.
June 24, 2009
With Every Breath
With every breath I take today,
I wow to be awake;
And every step I take,
I wow to take with a grateful heart–
So I may see with eyes of love
Into the hearts of all I meet,
To ease their burden when I can
And touch them with a smile of peace.
(author unknown to me)
These are my wishes for you on this cool but sunny Summer day.
Here is a quilt I made with so many various fabrics, all from Africa. As many fabrics as memories of people, friends, places, particular circumstances. One of my favourites because of all it evokes to me.
January 25, 2009
One thing I love to do while travelling is visiting market places. Especially in Africa. I used to live in different African countries. Markets are the places where you meet people, you hear the music of various languages, you see the eating habits, you smell unknown food or wonder at local medicines. It is a place to learn so much about a country and its people ! If you look for something you cannot find in any shop, just go to the market, someone will help you find it. You also learn how to bargain : a must ! Since I have always been interested in fabrics, a visit to the tailor’s shop is a priority. The amount and variety of materials that are sold on market stalls always fascinates me.This is the market place (or Zoma in malagasy language) in Antananarivo, Madagascar, a fabulous place to get lost.
African fabrics, mostly in coton, are extremely colourful and original in their patterns. Many of them have their own designation : “palm, vines, my rival’s eyes, comb, shells, my foot and your foot, the prosperous husband, etc…” and many more very descriptive and sometimes funny names. I immediately fell in love with those bright materials and bought quite a lot of small or larger pieces which I used for quilting. Friends offer me presents of fabrics, tailors are happy to give me the left-overs of what they sewed. I even receive worn clothes that my African friends are happy to share when they get new ones ! Nothing is wasted.A few years ago I sewed this “African Mosaic”, a log cabin pattern (2m20x2m10) with bits and pieces of many materials I had bought or received during several stays or journeys through different countries. These fabrics were made in Madagascar, Kenya, Burundi, Cameroun, Mali, Niger,Tanzania, Rwanda, Nigeria, maybe elsewhere, I don’t know.
It is one of my favourite and precious souvenirs of the people I met, the places I visited, the wonderful moments I spent on this great continent.
Here are some details of my African Mosaic :Each square of this log cabin quilt is 10x10cm and there are about 200 of them. Each one unique.This is the very center of the quilt, golden, bright and warm as the sun that shines in Africa.