Most personal projects I work on result in a metaphorical ‘journey’. That sounds very cheesy. But whether it’s a new skill learnt or reordering time for the old grey matter, I always feel it’s therapeutic to take my time and use the process as something of a mental MOT.
Right, so saying that, my latest project – a patchwork quilt of the face of Eric Morecambe – could not be finished soon enough. I just wanted to have the quilt to use and enjoy. Sod the journey and all that nonsense. Sparks flew off my machine and I stayed up past my bedtime many a night, over 6 months, to get it stitched together.
I’m not a quilter. I have friends who make the most beautiful, elaborate designs through quilting. My sewn together squares are knocked into a cocked hat by their work. But I knew what I wanted. And I made it. It was a labour of love – 768 squares of fabric stitched together into rows to make up the face of an international treasure.
I cribbed the design from t-shirt designer and artist, Loogyhead www.facebook.com/Loogyhead. He knows, don’t worry, and kindly let me use the image he created for a mosaic he made of Eric. I saw it online the day the comedian’s statue was sawn off at the leg, on Morecambe front. The design just seemed to lend itself to a patchwork quilt. Using Loogyhead’s mosaic as pattern I set about cutting out the coloured 7cm square pieces. Being methodical was the key. Bagging up the colours for the rows and numbering the bags.
Close up, the pattern can look a little meaningless. Just a series of random colours in lines. But held at a distance, those colours and sequences merge to make the bespectacled face of one of the funniest men of the 20th century.
The back of the quilt is fabric I purchased on York market – 1970s style brown and blue paisley – a nod to the comedy scenes of Eric and Ernie, involving them sharing a bed and wearing pyjamas.
Eric Morecambe does seem to be a constant throughout my life. Being introduced to the work of the comedian via reruns of the Christmas shows in the 80s by my Grandad, visits to Morecambe during my childhood and as an adult and listening to their decades old radio shows in Radio 4 Extra.
I love the mayhem, the finely honed ‘adlibs’ and the surreal nature of a lot of the sketches – ahead of their time.
Right – Quilt made by Alison Barton-Simmons
Left – Mosaic artwork ‘Eric’ by Loogyhead. Picture and artwork used with kind permission