To the University of Lancaster to see LB’s Justice Quilt, which is on display at the Peter Scott Gallery for the rest of this week. If you get the chance, people, go and eyeball it. However many pictures you may have seen of it, they do not, cannot, even begin to convey just how beautiful it is.
For starters, the colours are so much more vivid and varied in real life. There are intense, saturated colours, and delicate powdery ones. There are shiny, reflective areas and absorbingly matt ones.
Then a quilt is a three-dimensional object, not a flat one. You need a stereoscopic view of it fully to appreciate it. And LB’s quilt is three-dimensional to the max. Patches are decorated with nubby embroidery, bobbly knitting, sharp-edged sequins, smoothly rounded beads, wispy tufts of frayed fabric, spiky lines and knots of metallic thread. I’d forgotten that the patch that I sewed isn’t flat either – I’d only stitched the leaves down along the central vein, so that the edges of the three leaflets rise in winged, flying-V shapes from the surface.
I think the shamrock patch was more or less to size, but many patches are irregular; the underlying 4″ x 6″ grid is visible but a long way from being uniformly adhered to (you can see why lead stitcher Janet Read wrote, “I did threaten, at one stage, to stitch a patch that said, ‘Social justice activists can’t measure 4×6 inches’”). The horizontal and vertical seams waver and meander in places; bands and triangles of material have been stripped in to fill the awkward gaps, adding to the general impression of glorious, barely-organised chaos.
Looking at the quilt, first as a whole and then patch by patch, I felt my eyes filling with tears. The amount of love, care, and effort made visible and tangible in the quilt is amazing. And I thought, the #107days campaign and the quilt have created and made real the life LB should have had: colourful, warm, diverse, full of texture and discoveries waiting to be made, chaotic and even messy in places, but full and complete, bounded softly with love and care; and all utterly, indisputably worthwhile.
A big, beautiful life.