Monday, May 04, 2009

Gravestone Quilts

I spent one sunny Sunday afternoon in the cemetary with fabric, masking tape and paintstiks. I had done rubbings with crayon on paper before the advent of a suitable paint medium of this grave of my 5th Great Grandmother. The first woman in my family to emigrate to New Zealand in 1841 with 10 of her 12 brothers and sisters. They arrived in New Plymouth as part of the early settlement of the country, which had been devised by Edward Gibbon Wakefield while he was a guest of Her Majesty's prison in England. It was in prison that he conceived the idea of The New Zealand Company, then put his plans into action once released.

Her name was Christianna OLD, the daughter of Richard and Jane OLD - who lied about their ages to be accepted for the scheme. She had her 10th birthday on the ship they sailed to New Zealand on. The date on her headstone is incorrect and I altered it on one of the quilts with the paint and then forgot to do it on the other one! She seems to want to remain a woman with hidden qualities about her life.

My family had lost all its verbal history of her, and its been a paper trail to find her. I was not expecting to find her in Waikumete Cemetary but followed a whim and then found a headstone. Now she will at least be remembered visually by whoever in the family holds the quilts.

These have become the first two in what I think will be a series of three. Depicting what its like a month after we've departed when the mourning flowers have died in "Dearly Beloved" (the black quilt); and the point in time at which I found her - forgotten to successive generations in "Dearly Beloved Now Forgotten". The inspirations so far for the third quilt have been about her life before death and the gradual encroachment of the inevitable end. I'm still at the point of collecting fabrics for this work.
The brown quilt was part of New Zealand's national quilt symposium in 2009.

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