Alicia Merrett’s Map Quilts

I make textile wallhangings in the tradition of pieced quilting, using some fused appliqué as well, and some times incorporating text.  I have always used strong colour in my work, and my maps are no exception to this.

I started making map quilts a few years ago by complete chance, as a response to a challenge, but then fell in love with the subject – I really like maps and geography – and continued making them.

Maps have been made by humankind since the birth of civilisation.  They depict aspects of our earth and help us find our way.  Different peoples used different materials – marks on clay, woven mats with shells, drawing and painting on vellum – whatever was the material that was most suitable to use at the time.

Maps represent the realities that we need or want to know about. For example, the large, elaborate maps that were made in Europe for kings and noblemen could enhance and enlarge the particular kingdom at the expense of the surrounding ones. The great explorers like Columbus needed to know how to sail West.  Today, with satellite photography and GIS (Geographical Information Systems), we can start understanding our earth more fully, and use our knowledge for many other purposes -like protecting our planet.

My maps are sometimes imaginary, and sometimes loosely based in existing maps.  The two pieces I will show at The Brewhouse are in fact one of each.

Cathedral Town – Harvest Time  was inspired by a 1902 map of the city of Wells, Somerset, where I live, which I found in the Wells Museum.  My textile map is by no means precise, but has the general feel and orientation of the town and its surroundings.   The city area was much smaller then – it wasn’t a city yet – but the Cathedral of course has been there since 1100.  So it has a prominent place in my map, carefully oriented East – West as it actually is. The river is there, with the then mill on it, some of the roads, and the railway line (in grey) – which does not exist any more, having been replaced by roads.  The old hospital on the Glastonbury Road is now a modern Health Centre.  I put in a number of yellow fields, therefore I feel it represents Harvest Time.

Cathedral Town-Harvest Time

On the other hand, City Lights is completely imaginary, and it is inspired by aerial views of towns, cities and roads, seen from an airplane at night.

City Lights

The pieces are quite big – over a metre in each direction, both of them.  They got a heavily quilted, very textured surface which is difficult to see in the photographs above.   So come to the Mapping the Future exhibition and see them ‘in the flesh’, and all the other wonderful work that will be on display there!

 

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One thought on “Alicia Merrett’s Map Quilts

  1. Hi Alicia
    Thanks for this – love the image for City Lights – can’t wait to see it!
    Thanks too for publicising the show on your blog – not long now!

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