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05 January 2005 —
13 February 2005

Barbara McQuarrie:
The Pacific Path

Artist’s statement -

Cloth and stitch have been my passion for as long as I can remember. I made clothes for my dolls at age 8 or 9 and clothes for myself as a teenager. Then it was clothing for my daughters and their dolls. Traditional quilting came along when I was experiencing the ‘empty nest syndrome’ but I quickly grew bored with the repetition and as I collected and inherited non-traditional fabrics I started designing my own quilts. It was not until I attended a design class in 2002 and later the same year a workshop with American quilter Nancy Crow, that I felt confident enough to enter my work in national quilt exhibitions. After winning the Innovative Wall Quilt category at the X Factor exhibition in Christchurch in 2003, I decided to retire from a 37 year career in nursing and follow my dream to be a full time quilter.

I am fascinated by the designs I can create with lines of stitching and have been exploring this in the last 12 months. As a result my work has less patchwork and more quilting. My intention for this exhibition was to explore tapa cloth design, however when I looked at the well worn border piece of tapa cloth that had been gifted to me about 20 years ago, I decided to experiment with stitching the tapa into my work. My first effort broke the sewing machine needle. My tapa was made in Tonga where the layers are flued together and the little lumps of glue and bark were too hard for the sewing machine needle. I soaked it to soften the flue and the layers peeled apart revealing the interesting holes and the beauty of the beaten fibre.

Working with this cloth has been very special. I feel honoured that this cloth was entrusted into my care and I hope that what I have done with it is not insensitive. Using tapa ties in with my ethic of ‘making do’ and ‘not wasting materials’. All my work contains cotton batting and some of it has been what I call double quilted.

This is where I have built up layers of quilting by adding another layer of batting.  

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