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Tread Softly

Tread Softly Because You Tread On My Dreams

quilt: mixed fabrics
198 x 264 cm

Notes on this work

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This last line of Yeats's famous poem He wishes for the cloths of heaven forms the title of a large drawing still in progress. Meant to be a work to put on the floor rather than on the wall the chalk and pastel grew too thick for the paper to be manageable at all. At this stage, with quilts being sewn and an atmosphere of fabric around the studio (as well as the skills of Alice Wood and Alice King already in operation) it suddenly seemed a more appropriate realisation of the text and image to transcribe it into cloth itself. At the same time I was working on the costumes and sets for The Winter's Tale at the Globe Theatre. For Autolycus I had supervised the making of a large patchwork cloak and was fascinated to see how humdrum pieces of the cloths of the world rather than of heaven when juxtaposed sang out as rich and rare. Some of the 'dye and drab' of the cloak of Autolycus started off this present piece. As with Women's Work and Manpower Alice Wood solved the problems that arose both artistic and technical.

Tread Softly also fulfils part of the project of bringing into existence the artefacts mentioned in H W K Collam's intriguing novel Come Autumn Hand. In this case the bedspread that is described in Chapter XX.

'I love seeing the morning light creep over that quilt and watch the colours sing one by one', said Rima putting her cup on the bedside table, 'it's like a silent dawn chorus'.

'I know what you mean' he said 'but for me it's a family history. My aunt in Ohio made it fifty years ago, or rather she and her quilting bee that used to meet and make every week. You see how they worked their names into the design...'

'As old as that' said Rima feeling the different textures of the patterned pieces, 'But it looks so very modern, like some of the newest art.'

'That's why abstraction always seems normal to me' said Velinger 'I never understood the fuss about it. Those wise old Norns in Ohio and the women of the Amish and Shakers were making Mondriaans and Claes while the Pre Raphaelites were painting their Arthurian fantasies. They were guarding abstraction until the Fine Arts were ready for it and saving up for later generations the secrets of arrangement and harmony from other Americas long gone.' 

Sacred and Profane / Drawing to a Conclusion (1997),  pp. 7-10.