One of the quilts shown at the Shipley Art Gallery, Gateshead as part of their The Art of Quilts exhibition in 2001, was bought by Nature in Art. This art gallery and museum houses a unique permanent collection of fine, applied and decorative works, all with a nature theme. The V&A funded 50% of the £1500 cost of Pembroke Lichens, the quilt made by Anne Jones. The size of the hanging is 143 x 195cm and it is the latest in a series of quilts.

Pembroke Lichens, Photograph by Steve Tanner
Pembroke Lichens, Photograph by
Steve Tanner

Anne describes the background, materials and techniques involved in the quilt: "Natural forms have always been an important source of inspiration to me. Until 1998 much of my work was based on fungi and spores. I then visited Tycanol in Pembrokeshire and became engrossed by the lichens I found growing there. Drawing and using a camera with a macro lens, I began recording lichens, particularly the variety of colour, shape and texture."

"Of special interest was the ability of lichens to colonise inhospitable surfaces such as bare rock, exposed to intense summer heat and winter frost. I began looking at rocks and discovered that certain lichen grow on specific types of rock - some thriving in damp cracks, others on dry surfaces. I also observed that the colour of lichens intensifies after rain and pales during drought."

Pembroke Lichens, Photograph by Steve Tanner
Pembroke Lichens, Photograph by Steve Tanner

"These studies of rocks and lichens combined to become the design source for a series of textile hangings of which Pembroke Lichens is the most recent. This piece has its origins firmly in the quilting tradition in that it consists of a top fabric, backing and wadding, the three layers held together with stitching. Beyond this, tradition is left behind. Some fabric is burned, much of the cotton fabric is hand dyed, spray dyed or painted. Transparent fabrics and lint from my washing machine are also incorporated. Edges of cut or burned fabric are left raw or frayed. In addition, the piece has an irregular outline rather than a traditional straight edge."

"The lichens consist of multiple layers of fabric and wadding. These are applied and densely machine stitched to give various textured effects, with parts cut back to reveal different colours. When making the lichens I worked directly on the fabric from a sketch or photograph laid beside the sewing machine."

Pembroke Lichens, Photograph by Steve Tanner
Pembroke Lichens, Photograph by
Steve Tanner

"Pembroke Lichens is important to me for many reasons. The piece represents a development of my theme. It is a considerable advance in technique as to the representation of textures. Previously I burned holes in fabric to obtain the organic shapes of lichen but now I discovered the multiple layer technique which conveyed depth, texture and shape. Most importantly, I feel the piece will convey to the sympathetic viewer, the variety and delicate beauty of these inconspicuous, often unregarded gems of nature - lichens."

Pembroke Lichens was made in response to an invitation from Helen Joseph, Keeper of Contemporary Craft at The Shipley Art Gallery, to make a piece to hang in The Art of Quilts - An Exhibition of Contemporary and Traditional Quilts 2001. It took Anne four months to make, from the design stage to the finished piece.

Pembroke Lichens can be seen at Nature in Art, Wallsworth Hall, Twigworth, Gloucester,where it can be viewed by prior appointment. See Nature in Art for more details.

First published in Popular Patchwork Volume 10 Number 4 - April 2002