Part 1

The UKQU Blog Artist Challenge sounded like fun, so I said, “yes”. I waited eagerly to hear who I would be  given.My nominated artist was Picasso. Picasso (1881-1973) spans the era of Monet, Manet, Degas, Pisarro, Gustave Dore, Munsch, Kandinsky, OKeeffe, Hopper…oops, maybe more of a challenge than I thought!

How do you represent an artist skilled from childhood throughout a long long life and celebrated as a groundbreaking and sublimely talented painter, sculptor, printer…? who inflenced art through a “blue period”, a “rose period”, Cubism…who created a sculpture from a bike handlebars and seat so perfectly simple it could have been dug out of archaeological ruins of the Minotaur’s lair? Who lived through two World Wars?

Whose most famous painting (1937) was created in outrage after the German bombing of Basque *Guernica at the request of the Spanish Nationalists? And whose reply to a Nazi officer (in Paris) seeing the enormous, disturbing and almost monochrome painting of suffering and anger in occupied Paris, who had asked him,  “Did you do this?” was, “No! You did!”

After poring over many books and pictures, I decided I couldn’t choose one aspect of his work, much less do it justice! Then I saw a quilt on the Facebook page made by a group which perfectly portrayed his cubist way of portraying people with profile and full face views in  one. I could not match  that!

So I turned to an artist I have admired for a while.

Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh was one of the Glasgow School of Art ladies of the Art Nouveau period. We have all heard of her husband, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, but he himself rated her more highly as an artist than himself. He said, “I have talent but Margaret has genius”! Quite an accolade from a man known throughout the world of art and design. The Mackintoshes were part of the Art Nouveau movement in Britain largely represented by the Glasgow School of Art alumni. Margaret’s name is not so well known as her husband’s, but her name is on many, many of the well known Mackintosh creations. Look at any of the delicate watercolours and you will see their joint signatures.

Her ceramic wall panels, designed at the beginning of the twentieth century, for a modern house inspired my quilt and are exhibited in the M A K in Vienna; this quilt is a homage to her “Seven Princesses.” We see the dreamy elongated Art Nouveau figures, the roses, the sinuous lines. I can’t get a good view of the original, and it is vast,  but here is the fragment I am examining! It is executed in gesso and hessian, with twine, tin leaf and mother of pearl. She was an early multi-media artist.

I am using batiks to represent the ceramic slabs, with lame and glass beads picking out the jewelled facets. The curling designs will be picked out by applied bias binding, braid, narrow ribbon, and knitting yarn. The face and shoulder are padded. Mostly, it is raw edged appliqué. The quilting echoes the original surface.

And here is my homage piece, the basic top. 

Yet to be done, appliqued lame’, couching, added ribbon, braid, bias, yarn, glass beads, possibly some pearls and of course … quilting! I will provide a picture when I finish.

*Fun (but important) fact: the Basque language of Spain, the oldest in Europe, has no ties to Indo-European, which is the basis of all others, and pre-dates it! This means that the settlers who became the Basques are an even older group than any other remaining European migrants from the beginnings of civilisation. Which in my opinion makes the attempted Genocide so much worse because it was an attack on a people, not just a city.