Whispers Across Canada

Kim Caskey
Summer 2019

Quilters are quilters around the world! I have the profound pleasure of meeting and working with quilters from all over the world. Some I meet in person, while others only virtually. We are a unique and special breed with an instant connection, no matter the language spoken.

A very special worldwide quilt project was officially unveiled in January, 2019: World Wide Whispers. Along with team leads from four other countries (Ireland, Scotland, The Netherlands and the US), we worked on a unique, collaborative, worldwide quilt project. Not a typical group quilt or round robin project, this exhibition is a collection of evolving and changing individual pieces, each measuring 24″ by 18″.

The premise for this challenge is a bit like a child’s birthday party game where a leader starts by whispering a sentence in the ear of the next participant. The phrase continues around the room, evolving and changing from the original sentence. Each World Wide Whispers project started with an original photo as inspiration to create the first piece. Once finished, the piece was photographed and sent with the artist’s statement to the next person on the team. That next team member then used the photo of the previously finished piece as inspiration to create their own work, photograph it and send it along to the next person and so on.

The project took all of 2018 to complete. Each team project, five countries in all, will be exhibited around the world at various quilt festivals and shows throughout 2019 and 2020. Some exhibition venues are secured, including the big reveal at the Birmingham Festival of Quilts, August 1 to 4, 2019!

Team Canada is comprised of 13 members, one quilt artist from each province and territory of Canada. I am overwhelmed by the caliber, artistry and statement of each piece. I am proud of Team Canada and cannot wait to share the exhibit with the world!

Prairie Paradise by Kim Caskey, Edmonton, AB
Beginning with an original photograph, I created this serene landscape capturing the glorious colours of the end of fall on the prairies. Rich earth tones of a harvested field against a backdrop of a big, blue sky, which Alberta is known for (Big Sky Country).
Techniques: machine piecing, machine appliqué, thread painting, raw-edge embellishment and machine quilting.

Winter Elm by Pat Findlay, Winnipeg, MB
Inspired by Kim Caskey’s landscape piece, I wanted to represent the frigid beauty of winter on the Canadian prairies. The elm tree is also a personal symbol to me.
Techniques: fabric painting, appliqué, thread painting and machine quilting.

Looking In, Looking Out by Kathy Tidswell, Burtts Corner, NB
Drawing inspiration from Pat Findlay’s landscape and suggestions from my idea-generating husband, I chose to feature my favourite little owl, the Saw-whet Owl. Surveying his kingdom from a fence post, he stares out with that quizzical expression. What could he be thinking? Is he wondering why he hasn’t moved further south before the snow came to New Brunswick? Watching over him is a stately oak tree clinging to a few remaining leaves. I love to create texture and dimension and if you look closely you will find it.
Techniques: appliqué, free-motion thread appliqué and machine quilting.

What does the Owl See? by Nicole Tull, Sault Ste. Marie, ON
In Canada, the owl is considered wise. As he looks out at society, the owl is perplexed because he sees a nation bombarded with information. Adults and kids use technology every day and receive so much information without the ability to use it wisely. There is so much noise in our brains, we are not allowing ourselves time to decompress and decipher the information, let alone formulate our own opinions. This piece shows the colourful information coming from social media sources and the lack of words coming from the girl. The owl has not seen this before; therefore, he does not know what advice to give. How will the young minds of today grow up?
Techniques: machine piecing, machine appliqué, hand embroidery and machine quilting.

Shields by Holly Hildebrand, North Battleford, SK
The continuous availability and streaming of news and information creates a new challenge for those interested in maintaining a sense of peace and simplicity in their lives. The shield is a historical symbol for protection and identification and is still relevant in its newer incarnations of digital firewalls, passwords, swipe cards and the like. We must each develop our own personal and unique methods of filtering, interpreting and balancing information, while maintaining the ability to deflect and protect ourselves from misinformation.
Materials: unbleached cotton canvas, acrylic paint, book pages, cotton batting, cotton, rayon and polyester threads.

Anchor & Drift by Karen Henry, Dartmouth, NS
At various points in our lives we feel anchored, adrift or in the process of letting go. Any of these three stages could be applied to our evolutions through aging in creativity, in the growth of our offspring, in our education, moving from one physical space to another, etc. This wall hanging reflects the changing circumstances of our lives.
Techniques: hand appliqué, Pigma® pens, paint wash, hand embroidery and machine quilting.

Floating by Terry Aske, New Westminister, BC
When I first saw Karen Henry’s piece, I was immediately struck by the three boats in primary colours: blue, red and yellow. My piece is an abstract interpretation of those boats. I simplified the boat shapes to pod shapes floating on a neutral background. I spiced up the primary colours by framing each one with bands of related colours.
Techniques: machine appliqué, machine piecing and machine quilting.

Catch-a-Hold This One by Corey Ralph
When I first saw Terry Aske’s piece, I immediately saw three dory fi h in primary colours accented by coordinating colours. Growing up in a small fishing village, Bellevue, NL (90 km west of St. John’s), I was inspired to draw from my heritage and the foundation of the Newfoundland cod fishery. My father and grandfather both sustained their families by salting and drying codfish. Although salting cod is no longer required for preservation, it remains a Newfoundland specialty. My piece is an abstract interpretation of split salt cod, drying on a flake. The backbone of the fish is removed (or butterflied, in culinary circles), packed in heavy salt for up to 21 days and then rinsed and dried in the summer sun. Drawing from clues provided in Terry’s piece, I used a set of three items in primary colours. I used Ricky Tims’ hand-dyed fabric to create my salt cod, accented with coordinating Kaffe Fassett® fabric with the same motif. The “flake”, or background fabric, represents the netted structure upon which the fish would be placed to dry.
Techniques: machine appliqué, machine piecing and machine quilting.

True North – Strong and Free by Rita Kovatch, Hay River, NWT
When I first saw Corey Ralph’s piece, I thought about fishing in the North. With this being the option, I could have gone in many directions, but chose a polar bear fishing on an ice pack or near the ocean. As a proud Canadian, I wanted to represent the Canadian flag and chose to showcase it in the background by using my version of the stained glass and reverse appliqué technique. The entire piece is machine stitched and quilted using a tiny zigzag.
Techniques: stained glass, machine and reverse appliqué and machine quilting.

Yukon Gold by Danae Moore, Whitehorse, YT
I was inspired by Rita’s Canadian northern scene and especially the polar bear. We have grizzly bears who visit regularly and I wanted to show the beauty of September in the Yukon. This is the September view from my deck. The Yukon mountains are beautifully covered with gold at this time of year as the seasons change.
Techniques: machine piecing, raw-edge appliqué, machine quilting and thread play.

Autumn Tranquility by Lily Lam, Westmount, QC
The long awaited whisper arrived from my preceding partner one afternoon in late September. After finishing my supper early, a strong urge took me on an evening stroll. As usual, I headed for the nearby park. The summer heat broke recently and, with dusk approaching, it was quiet and tranquil. A light breeze caressed the mirror-like surface of the lagoon. I strolled along a well-lit path on the far side of the chalet. The waterfowl, who visit every summer to raise another clutch of ducklings, still lingered, rippling the serene liquid surface and its reflection magically. Mesmerized, I too lingered as the night descended softly around me. I heard another whisper clearly: “Capture and treasure this autumn tranquility.”
Techniques: machine piecing, hand and machine appliqué and machine quilting.

Meandering Meliadine by Veronica Puskas, Rankin Inlet, NU
Fall in my hometown of Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, has so much beauty that it takes one’s breath away. You cannot help but drink in the vast open skies and landscape and admire the surroundings. The deafening silence of the land broken by cries from birds brings a sense of tranquility and oneness with nature. Harvesting what the land has to offer, lingonberries, cloudberries, crowberries and blueberries are abundant for the picking. Fish are also plentiful in the river. Dotting the landscape are manmade land markers made of stone, also known as Inukshuit (Inukshuk for singular), adding to the beauty and awe of nature.
Techniques: raw-edge fused appliqué, machine stitching, fabric painting and hand-embroidery. Machine quilting by Jennifer Dyck.

PEI Sunset by Carol Swinden, Cape Traverse, PEI
I took the lovely orange and deep blue colours from the previous quilt (artist Veronica Puskas), which became my sunset and water. I took a few of my favourite photos of PEI sunsets and put them together to form this piece, which evokes the calmness of the evenings, the rich colours (including the lovely red cliffs and sand), the quiet lapping of the waves on the sand and the distant cries of the gulls. The long dune grasses are blown about by the soft winds, while the sand cools beneath your feet. It is a beautiful place.
Techniques: raw-edge appliqué and machine thread painting. Some fabrics used include black tulle with attached glitter for the distant water, a net-like lace for wave froth, as well as shimmery nylon fabric for foam on the beach.

Header image: World Wide Whispers by Ann Hill of Scotland. Quilts photographed by Laura Sparrow.

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