One never knows when inspiration is going to strike. And one never knows what will spark that inspiration. Today’s unexpected spark was a exhibition of quilts by Solveig Wells. This was a special display of quilts; it was organized by her family as a celebration of the life of their wife and mother – and quilter par excellence, who sadly passed away in March of this year. Her husband Dave Wells and his family have my heartfelt sympathy for their loss and also profound thanks for sharing Solveig’s wonderful talent with the public.
I knew that Solveig Wells was a talented sewer, and I sort of knew that she was a quilter. I even knew she was artistic. But I wasn’t prepared for her remarkable use of colour, shapes, and also rhythm. The Wells family has assembled many of the 100 quilts she completed, which have been beautifully hung on the two-story-high walls of a bright local auditorium. Utterly captivating. The samples I include below don’t really do them justice, especially since you can’t see the details of the fabrics or the designs of the machine quilting that adds an additional layer of inventiveness, but I hope they at least provide some feeling for the legacy Solveig has left. If you enjoy these, I encourage you to check out the online gallery created by her family, at http://www.solveigsquilts.com.
For the past 15 years, Dave Wells has spent 6 months teaching at the University of Southern Missipssippi, in Marine Sciences, and 6 months back here at the University of New Brunswick (I know, he officially retired from UNB 15 years ago, but that’s a professor for you!). His wife, Solveig, belonged to quilting guilds in both places, and was especially active in Mississippi. After Hurricane Katrina hit their area with such horrific results, she was inspired to create 55 quilts using a significant amount of recovered storm-damaged fabric. An amazing concept with more wonderful results, these quilts are known as the Katrina Recovery Quilts. This collection can be viewed at http://www.katrinarecoveryquilts.org/.
While talking to Dave at the exhibition I learned that the family is donating a large portion of Solveig’s vast collection of fabric to an organization I hadn’t heard of before. I thought I’d pass along this finding for any of you out there who love quilting and have run out of family and friends who want another quilt. This organization, called Victoria’s Quilts, operates in the U.S. and Canada. Victoria’s Quilts was started by a quilter named Victoria who, as a cancer patient, found that she was always cold when she was getting her chemo treatments. Her own efforts to provide quilts to cancer centers for their patients during chemo treatments mushroomed into nation-wide efforts. If you are interested in getting involved, more information is available at Victoria’s Quilts Canada and Victoria’s Quilts USA.
Many of us are attracted to quilting because it ties us to the past. We cherish the history it represents, even if that may be a bit misguided (I’m sure that most pioneer women were only too glad to be able to just buy a blanket when that innovation finally hit their neck of the woods). We are also attracted by the several creative aspects of deciding on the design and colour combinations for each new project. And quilting provides its adherents with the challenge of honing our sewing skills. But there aren’t many who push the art form to the creative edge, as Solveig Wells has done so well. She leaves such beautiful, expressive work. Feel free to share it with other quilters.
Photo credits: www.solveigsquilts.com