Tuesday 17 April 2018

'Mercia' at The British Quilt & Stitch Village...

Well, good morning my lovelies...
How are you all on this grey and dreary Tuesday?

Here in the Fens I think Spring must be playing a massive mischievous joke on us all and is only pretending to stop for a while and actually has no intention whatsoever to indulge us in some warmer days despite the Springtime blooms nodding their heads to say hello!

It seems a lifetime away since I actually sat and wrote a blog post to you all.
I know many of you reading this do say hello via my Tilly Rose - Textile Artist Facebook page
but a blog post is a little different...
I can chatter and meamble so much more!

So in the spirit of The Sound of Music, where shall we start?
Well, let;s start at the very beginning... a very good place to start...

Some of you may be wondering where I've been hiding, why I've been a little quiet of late and will you see on TV again etc etc...

Last year our family was hit really hard as my husband 
was diagnosed with secondary liver cancer.
After fighting bowel cancer two years previously, then vasculitis and sepsis of his kidneys a year later, we actually thought we would have a few months to recover but sadly not.
As you can imagine or perhaps may have experienced yourselves personally, we faced a very huge uphill struggle...but at least we were given that option of a way to do so.
Sadly I know some are not so fortunate.

So...roll on a few months of very tough hardship, major surgery and intense recovery
I am pleased to say that hubby is now back at work and looking forward.
We take each day as it arrives with a massive blessing of smiles.

Whilst all this was going on I was writing my first book Stitched Memories - Search Press.
Timings really couldn't have been worse but it gave me a focus and in between hospital and clinic visits you could always find me hunched over a laptop writing instructions and explanations etc for the projects in the book.
It has now gone to print as we speak and will be available in August.
If you click on the link above you will find a little detail about what little surprises are waiting for you...

So....going back to my original sentence of where have I been, well as you can imagine
keeping that positive smile going for hubby and the rest of our family, continuing to work, writing a book and doing the dusting now and then can take it's toll.
At Christmas I faced exhaustion and so I took a few months off to recouperate.
It's that simple really.

Giving yourself time off is hard for someone like myself who likes to keep busy because 
it makes you feel guilty that you are not working!
But, how could I not be doing something at all?

Well for those of you who have been following my daily rambles and chats, you will all know that I've made the most of my time whilst lazily squidged on the sofa by doodling designs, 
planning my own range of sewing kits and gathering momentum for an exhibit
that I showed at The British Quilt & Stitch Village in Uttoxeter last weekend.

Many visitors to the event loved 'Mercia'; my version of 3D textile art depicting the Myths & Legends of the Cambridgeshire Fens over the many centuries of agricultural hardship...

Fen folk were often considered the 'odd folk living out on the marshlands', who were very independent and very suspicious of any 'foreigners'.
The term 'foreigners' simply meant anyone who didn't live amongst the Fen reeds and work the land which included anyone from everyday folk to the gentry!

Much of the Fens that we see today are a result of the reclaimed lands, drained many moons ago by the Dutch engineers who used their knowledge to create agricultural fields and land for communities to feed their families and toil the earth.

Before the drainage was developed many Fenfolk travelled from island to island via punts or rowing boats and knew the marshes like the back of their hand but more importantly they also knew that the marshlands were a law unto themselves.
Often gas escaped from the marsh and with it followed tales of 'bog spirits' and will'o'the'wisps.

 Fenland stories of  odd sightings among the Fen reeds were often passed down from generation to generation around the table of an evening over a pint of ale...

'Mercia', the anglo-Saxon name for the region, hopefully depicts two side of the story..

Her skirt, a Fenland river, is divided into two halves; one side represents the richer side of life
where women of a certain status enjoyed the luxuries that life in the Fens offered and the cotton muddied ragged edge on the other half represents the masses... the life of an Ag Lab that knew all about the hardships of living in such a wild wilderness of a Fen marshy bogland but loved it anyway.
Needless to say my family heritage comes from the rugged frayed edge of life if you didn't but guess!

Mercia's front bodice depicts the 'Tree of Life' believed by the Celts to be a very important part of their lives.
Boadicea or Boudica, the Queen of the Iceni Tribe ruled in this area, so there is a rich heritage of Celtic tradition connected to the Fens.
Many myths and tales have evolved from these times and often remain today.

The back of the bodice depicts the hard times of life on the land with embroidered stitches showcasing the famous plough lines of the patchwork fields found in this area.

Fenland heritage is in my DNA.
It has seeped into my bones over many centuries...

Not many folk give a shout out for the Fens.
They don't see the beauty of our completely flat 'boring' lands but for me
the Fens smile with a unique beauty.
Their sunsets, vasts skies, ever changing light and openess fills my little Fen heart with joy.
Someone has to make a stand for our little area of the UK!

Whilst on holiday in Cornwall a few years ago I was asked where I lived and when I mentioned the Cambs Fens, the shopkeeper said"Oh I know, you live in the damp patch then!"
Not sure what to say to that one....

On a day like today when the wild winds are a-howling through, I do think perhaps if I lived somewhere with a few hills, woods and undulating pathways my life would perhaps be a little quieter but then I change my mind as quickly as the wind calms again...

The judges seemed to like my little shout out for the Fens and awarded
me with a  'Second' rosette which although I was very happy to accept the result wasn't really that important to me.
It was never about winning really...
 I hope that doesn't sound arrogant at all because for me, 
entering the competition was so much more than a rosette...
It was about me allowing myself time to indulge in my passion for textile art, showcasing some Fenland history and having such fun designing and stitching on a mannikin which I just love doing!

 I was so over the moon to see people chatting about the Fens and asking about my little area of the UK.

Thank you to everyone who stopped by and chatted about 'Mercia'
It makes it all worthwhile.

I think I will have to write a separate post about my workshops and the beautiful displays on offer as I don't want you all to be nodding off!
I've rambled on as usual...
I'll leave you with this last pic of the pint that quenched my thirst on the last day at the event.
The little verse on the glass totally sums up a brilliant philospohy methinks!

"A little bit of beer is divine medicine"

I will say cheery bye for now and get writing my next post.
I'd forgotten the joy writing brings...

Until I stop by and say hello again
Have a beautiful day my lovelies!
Much love

x x x

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Tilly x