18 October 2016

We are All Africans takes first place at MBQG

We are all Africans by Linda Mackie Finley,  w49" x h63"

Our congratulations go to SAQA Atlantic member Linda Mackie Finley.  Her art quilt, We are all Africans, placed first overall for the Viewer's Choice Award and the CQA Ribbon at the 2016 Mahone Bay Quilt Guild Show & Sale. Linda's quilt was machine and hand appliqued, machine pieced, embellished with both stitch and paint, and hand quilted.

We asked Linda to tell us about her award-winning quilt.

Linda, you've made several, magnificently detailed quilts on a variety of topics. Would you tell us about your inspiration for We are all Africans?

My "inspiration" was the crisis in Africa brought on by the AIDS epidemic, in which an entire generation of teachers, caregivers, artists, etc. was wiped out, leaving thousands of children bereft and without the basic requirements to build a future.

Because I have a love for African art, I was able to draw upon it for the figures in this quilt. The two child-laden women in the centre are based on ancestral Nigerian maternity figures that are called upon to preserve the health and welfare of the community. The grey 'monolithic' figures are also ancestral representations, probably funerary in nature, as are others in the piece. 

We are all Africans (detail) by Linda Mackie Finley 

The caryatid bearing the large bowl, in the centre of the quilt, draws on a tradition in Benin. Such carved figures were placed outside of villages to ward off evil. The bowl in my piece is thus filled with Aids viruses, disarmingly beautiful.
We are all Africans (detail) by Linda Mackie Finley 

The pairs of animals are representations of the Ark, as the San people in South Africa, systematically eliminated by European colonization, have recently been proven to be the forbearers of the entire human race. Thus the title of the piece.

And finally, the beadwork along the bottom is my effort to represent a Luba divination board, a highly sophisticated document from Zaire.

How did you turn your inspiration into this marvellous quilt?

The process for this work was a long one. It sat on my design wall, in various incarnations, for over a year. Just as I was about to abandon it, I saw Val Hearder’s collection, "African Threads", work by contemporary women artists from South Africa. It was heartbreakingly beautiful, and I loved the way they used their simple yet sophisticated embroideries to convey the story. They were totally my inspiration and gave me permission to abandon my conventional way of storytelling. I threw my heart into the work instead of my head. I think it worked.

See more of Linda Mackie Finley’s work on her website, Kite-Borne Threads.

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