The design of our Quarantine Quilt was inspired by a striking quilt that we came across during a visit to the Museum of Cambridge when we were researching one of our theatre shows “The River Runner” which is all about ice skating in the Fens. This Quilt is made up of 475 embroidered blocks and would have been created by a community of over 200 individual Victorian stitchers. It is thought that it was made to celebrate the marriage of Queen Victoria’s son, Albert.
Textile Historian Carolyn Ferguson writes:
“The so-called ‘Masters’ Wives Quilt’ is an embroidered coverlet with a chequerboard design of alternate ‘Turkey red’ and white blocks. It belongs to the genre of ‘signature quilts’ where individual blocks have multiple names or initials that are written with ink or stamped or embroidered on to the fabrics in some way. Signature quilts form important primary historical documents that give insights into communities, neighbourhood groups, relationships, family history and important historical events. They were made either for fund-raising or for commemorative purposes, and in the UK the heyday of production was the late 19th and early 20th centuries.”
You can read the rest of her fascinating article by clicking here.
In this time when people are separated we wanted to make a project where people felt they could physically contribute to a whole, receive something tangible in the post: some fabric, a letter containing a story and use their creation to connect with others. Craft work is an art form that has often been neglected and relegated, however its beauty is its accessibility, meditative speed and it’s intergenerational appeal. Quilt making channels a history of female artists working together to create something that tells a story of each maker. This is seen clearly in the history of The Masters’ Wives Quilt.
Image courtesy of Museum of Cambridge