Broken landscapes

March 5, 2013

For the past two years, I have been sewing this quilt by hand, on and off. I started assembling  fabrics after the shock and distress I  felt when  a major earthquake hit the  Eastern coast of Japan in March 2011. The earthquake triggered  powerful tsunami waves devastating everything on its way and caused nuclear accidents. Friends of mine were living in the same area. They barely escaped this disaster but so many, many people lost their life, were injured and are missing. Towns, villages were destroyed, homes broken, roads and railways heavily damaged,  whole landscapes disappeared.

quilt Japan, 3


The quilt is better looked at from the bottom to the top. This is how I started assembling my thoughts and fabrics. Scraps of materials like the broken pieces of a familiar world that suddenly was “deconstructed” by powerful  and unstoppable natural elements. Layers of fragments and leftovers remaining after the devastation. Phases of life after the tragedy.

dét 4Huge black and fatal waves reaching the shore, blowing away and destroying everything   on its way, leaving only  unrecognizable bits and pieces.

dét 3

Destructive waves moving further inside the country, over scattered parts of houses and objects that were discarded and that used to be part of people’s life.

dét 2

Little by little as waves receded, life went on when men and women overcame their indescribable fear, loss and distress.  With immense joint efforts, resilience and great courage, people started reconstructing homes, birds found their way in a nature that slowly came back to life.

dét 1

The top part of the quilt is sewn with  some Japanese fabrics. Symbols and tribute to  the People of Japan, survivors of  many tragedies, moving on with life courageously, great willpower and hope.

The quilt below, “Friendship Squares”, is one I sewed several years ago; it was sent with many other quilts made by quilters all over the world to various Japanese rescue associations that distributed them to people in need after the devastating events in 2011. My quilt was not very large, but I like to imagine it  warmed the body and heart of a child.quilt, carrés d'amitié


27 Responses to “Broken landscapes”

  1. Very intense, Isa. Very beautiful and strong statement using the quilting venue. I’m such a traditional quilter, and it’s so nice to see other interpretations in fabric! Thanks for the nice narrative. Gorgeous work!

    • Thank you very much Tamara. I appreciate your visit and comment. I used to quilt “traditional” for many years. Now I like sometimes to improvise and just follow my thoughts for a person or an event or whatever comes to mind.
      I love your “Pure Decadence” quilt. Gorgeous colours and pattern. Is it “Irish Chain” ?

      • It’s a pattern based on the Irish Chain, the same pattern I made my pink quilt in. It’s called “Caroline’s Chain” ~ I found it in a Fons & Porter magazine and knew I had to try it. I’ve never tried something so “complicated” ~ it’s an “intermediate” level pattern, but I found it quite easy once the directions were read and understood. I adore it. Thanks for looking!

  2. Isa,

    Both of your quilts are beautiful. I can see all of your emotions poured into the tsunami quilt. Hand work is so therapeutic. I am sure the receiver of that small quilt is so warm and comfortable right now. It is so cheery. I bet it brings a smile on his/her face every day.

  3. Kathy said

    Isa, how I love that you did this. It is so beautiful. You can feel your soul shining through the quilt. Your love, your care, your pain, your honoring. Thank you.

  4. montucky said

    This quilt is a thing of beauty, an artwork and a story all at once!

  5. Truels said

    You make the most amazing and beautiful quilts. I know from your earlier works (and you know how much I admire them) ….
    This work sends a beautiful message to the victims of the tsunami in Japan.

  6. sybil said

    These are amazing works of love. You are generous with your time, your craft and your caring.

  7. shoreacres said

    How beautiful your quilts are, and how touching. You’re exactly right about the therapeutic value of handwork. I once sold some antique quilt frame clamps to a man who worked in an office building very near the site of the Twin Towers. Once he returned to work after the attack, he set up a little frame in his office and would quilt whenever the pain and stress became too much to bear.

    I’ve been thinking of him recently, and the words he shared. It seems the world is in the midst of a series of tsunamis. Like his words, your work stands as a symbol of hope. Things never will be the same, but things can be put together again, in new and perhaps more creative ways.

    • Linda, how much better than I did you say what I felt about this particular quilt and handwork. Your last phrase:
      “Things can be put together again, in new and perhaps more creative ways” summarizes it perfectly. Thank you so much.

  8. Tammy said

    I love the free form nature of your quilts. They are so inviting and tell such a great story. Thanks for sharing Isa. I would so like to reinstate the value of handwork in my own community.

    • Thank you for your words, dear Tammy. In your own way you inspire us all with the beautiful life lessons from your kitchen, garden, market and I find this very valuable, essential even.

  9. Isabelle this is such a powerful piece of art. You do amazing work and put so much of yourself and of the world into it. I also enjoyed seeing “Friendship Squares: with it’s highly fractured squares to the handwork in the hexagons to the steps reaching upward. Many messages in that piece as well. I like the fractured border. It pulls all the blocks together. What comes of tragedy. We watched a special on this area of Japan last night.

    • So nice to find you here, Theresa. Thank you for your most encouraging words. I know you understand if I say that quilting is a very personal way to express one’s feelings.

      I never realized all there was in this Friendship Quilt until you described your feelings about it. I sewed it in my patch group some years ago with three pieces of fabrics only (plain orange, deep blue and a multicolored material), a challenge we were meant to do. Maybe it was destined to be given to someone during those tragic events ?

  10. Sartenada said

    Bonjour Isa.

    J’admire tes talents en auteur en faisant très belles courtepointe! Superbe!

    Belle journée à vous et les vôtres.

  11. Janice said

    They are both such beautiful quilts, Isa. The one representing your thoughts, sadness, and ultimately your hopes and the resurgence of the Japanese people and their culture after the disaster. And the other representing you, your culture, your warmth, and going to them to provide warmth and comfort. I enjoyed seeing them and reading about their story.

    • Hello Janice, so nice to find you here ! I have been a bit out of touch recently, sorry about that. I really appreciate your comments, they describe perfectly how I was feeling as I sew both quilts.

  12. I share the sentiments of so many of your commenters. You’re quilt is a prayer and a story of love, loss, healing, and hope. So sweet and beautiful.

  13. such a lovely and original piece of artwork, Isa!

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