This post is about lovely Alison Moger’s visit to Bristol Quilters last night, but it is also about synchronicity and that feeling that the whole world is coming together to help you in your work, which is a bit delusional, but most definitely seems to happen to people when they are in ‘flow’ with a project.
Alison Moger is textile artist who is interested in community narratives, specifically the narratives of families and place. She makes pieces about women’s lives and concerns, working on recycled domestic textiles such as tablecloths, tea towels, tray cloths and shawls. She then prints and embroiders and burns and bleaches and patches them into textiles which capture the story she wants to tell. The stories are about women’s lives and how they have changed over the past couple of decades. She has done commissioned work on hospital wards for people with Alzheimers making wallpaper from blown up stitched pieces which allowed the patients to navigate the space through pictures but also to remember how they used to do embroidery themselves. She did what sounds like fascinating work in South Wales with families from the area affected by the recent wave of young people’s suicides to celebrate what was good about the community and to commemorate the dead.
She is Welsh herself, and makes pieces to preserve Welsh culture. So there were pieces about the ‘Fair People’ who had, like herself, blond hair and were mistrusted in a community of the dark-haired, and stories from the Mabinogion with its attendant seasonal customs such as the skeleton horse who seems to have been some sort of trick or treat character. She also talked about going on holiday to Porthcawl on the coal lorry when the holiday-makers took their own furniture on the truck to camp with. The posh person with the caravan became the leader of the field kitchen. Then they all waited for the lorry to return home. I liked her idea of working into and onto tea towels because women often work out their problems while doing the washing up, and her invaluable advice, ‘Don’t go out with a man from Bridgend Road, especially if he keeps greyhounds.’
So, it was a fascinating talk, and the work was really lovely. But over and above that, I was intrigued to see just how closely our interests overlapped. I am interested in textiles and their connections to women’s lives and identities. I am increasingly interested in memory and aging. And I am getting involved in working on community pieces which will have some connection to changing the world around me. I had had a great conversation with a colleague about this at the university earlier in the day. It felt like the universe telling me I was on the right path and to keep going as there are allies and helpers out there. That is a bit Californian wacky-woo-woo New Age for me, but it was a good feeling.