Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Lucy Wallis' quilt

Judy Martin home studio  collected inspiration wall

Lucy Wallis Circle on Square I 1984,  taffeta, velvet and cotton
This quilt by Lucy Wallis has been very important to me.
I saw it in a book published in 1990 entitled Quilts: The James Collection.
There is not much information about it.  Most of the text in the book is in Japanese.
Lucy Wallis lived on a farm in Somerset England when she made this quilt.
Apparently she made another similar quilt, but I have not seen it.
Circle on Square I by Lucy Wallis, page 108 and 109 in Quilts: The James Collection
By 1991 I had already discovered Lenore Tawney's amazing circle in square weavings (here's one) but this was the first time I felt that a quilt pulled off this important archetype.
Quilts: The James Collection  1990 Kokusai (published in Japan)
The book is still available online (at reasonable cost), and the actual quilt is part of the James Collection, International Quilt Study Museum in Lincoln Nebraska.  The museum dates Lucy's quilt at 1987 and orients it differently than the book.   see here
Judy Martin' collection of inspiration wall in home studio
I've used a large photo of the Lucy Wallis quilt for teaching purposes and came across that photo last week.  I pinned it on my studio wall.  (view old wall here)
Judy age 7 or 8 
This wall holds a collection of photos and momentos that I find such as this birthday card I made for my dad when he turned 86.
top: Aino Sibelius, the Finnish composer's wife
 middle, Lucy wallis's quilt Circle On Square I,
bottom Rothko's Orange and Tan 1954 oil on canvas
There is a narrow place by the closet that I use for 4 x 6 images.  Lucy's quilt has been here for a good long time, along with a quote by Jeanette Winterson and a photo of me from grade 9.
Judy Martin age 14 (new haircut)
Mended World, part of the community stitch project (2009-2013) is a response to Lucy Wallis' beautiful, complicated use of cloth and stitch.
Lucy Wallis Circle on Square I  detail  taffeta, velvet, machine embroidery (I believe)
Thank you Lucy.

And here's the Jeanette Winterson quote
Life has an inside as well as an outside.  Consumer culture directs all resources and attention to life on the outside.  What happens to the inner life?Art is never a luxury because it stimulates and responds to the inner life.    We are badly out of balance.
I don't think of art/creativity as a substitute for anything else.  I see it as a powerful expression of our humanity - and on the side of humanity under threat.  
If we say art is a luxury, we might as well say that being human is a luxury.


  1. Anonymous2:53 pm

    Like the photo you posted very much. I found an old reference to Lucy Wallis in ( https://reader.exacteditions.com/issues/52466/page/8 )
    Crafts november/december 1984: see under stockist and then quilts.
    Kind regards, Yvonne Tolman

  2. Dear Yvonne

    Yes, I did find that one as well. It says exactly where she live(s)(ed). Pear Tree Farm Somerset. She charged 60 pounds a square metre in 1984.

    thank you for your comment.

  3. Such an interesting post and I can see the influence you had in your Circle Quilt. Very interesting to learn from you about these other women artists.

  4. This circle in a square reminds me of Barbara Hepworth sculptures- in her St Ives garden and Andy Goldsworthy stone sculptures with circles being the view through. Thanks, haven't seen that quilt before, how bright and cheering.

  5. i enjoyed this peep inside your thoughts.

  6. Thanks Judy! I learn something new and inspiring with every entry of your journal. I find myself looking forward with anticipation for the next one.

  7. AMEN! When anyone I talk to starts pontificating about luxuries, I probe further to see what they are spending their time and money on. It is enlightening.

  8. love seeing this quilt, how strange that the museum hung it sideways, your Mended World is a masterpiece!

  9. The inspiration wall connecting to the thought of an inner life reminds me of Edith Wharton. Something of an architect (in addition to her scribblings) I think her interpretation of life was structured as "house/home," writing, "But I have sometimes thought that a woman's nature is like a great house full of rooms: there is the hall, through which everyone passes in going in and out; the drawing-room, where one receives formal visits; the sitting-room, where the members of the family come and go as they list; but beyond that, far beyond, are other rooms, the handles of whose doors perhaps are never turned; no one knows the way to them, no one knows whither they lead; and in the innermost room, the holy of holies, the soul sits alone and waits for a footstep that never comes." Hence,perhaps, the inner life. Circles, symbolically leaning towards the feminine, containers for the inner life.

  10. Sugar, knowing you is like having the art teacher and womentor I never had. xo

  11. PS: Love those cat eye glasses!

  12. Love peeking inside to see things of importance to you, an artist I admire. Thank you for sharing.


Thank you for taking the time to connect. Much appreciated.xx