A very special fabric and I were first introduced in 1990, and I’m still in love with it. Its a cotton, printed black with irregular tan coin spots, designed by and American designer, Jennifer Sampou for P&B Textiles in the early ’90’s.
I was living in the US when it was released, loved it at first sight and bought some on the spot realising it was the perfect border and sashing for this quilt, below, I was making at the time. “Through The Windows of My Mind” 1990, 256cm sq. became one of the earliest Colour Memories quilts, inspired by the vegetation colours and landscape features of the remote tent camps we lived in for a couple of field seasons in the Northern Territory. This time, 1975-6, I now refer to as our Tent Period, and to me this quilt says it all.
Several years later, I saw this fabric remaindered somewhere in the USA at $3/yd, so naturally I bought the remaining half bolt. Although this fabric design was released in several colourways, the tan/black certainly is evocative of Australia’s sunburnt landscape and our national sense of colour; plus clearly in the minds of some it also referenced the dot paintings of some of our indigenous artists. As Jennifer and her range were clearly American I am sure this is happy coincidence, and I think the black/tan colourway was actually too hard for American quiltmakers to use with their totally different ‘national colour palette’ – no wonder it was remaindered, imho. Having about 9m of this fabric now, I began work on this 2m sq work, “Desert Wind” 1995, and I wish I had $1 for every time someone said something like “Oooh, so you do Aboriginal quilts, too !!”
I understand the comment of course, but it’s never been said about this next one though, which to my mind might be more deserving. Its title “Kimberley 2” 2002 90cm x 110cm refers to the Bungle Bungles rock formation located in the Purnululu National Park up in the Kimberley region of Australia.
I also used it as a background fabric to the blocks in this next quilt, “New Directions” 2002 96cm x 84cm in which the lines and arrows represent people coming to our ancient continent from all directions over its entire human history: the black/tan of course here signifies the original immigrants, our indigenous people who crossed the land bridges from Asia perhaps at least 60,000 years ago.
I still have about a metre of the fabric and eke it out, and there are plenty of small bits in my scrap bag so pretty well every Ebb&Flow quilt has a little in it somewhere. Some of it went into a bed quilt for our daughter a few years back, and there’s some on our bed, too. I kick myself when I think of the 4 metres I used on the (never seen) back of “Desert Wind” . I guess I naively assumed at the time that such a marvellous fabric would always be available … well of course, I now know that’s not true ! But what is true is that every now and then a fantastic fabric will come into my orbit; I will instantly emotionally bond with it and recognising it as special, will buy as much as I can, at least 3 metres if possible. I always make sure I have a credit card or some cash on me when I’m out and about in likely places. Most important of all, I know I will use it because I love it.