PERUSIA

1995-1997,  148″ x 66″
Fabrics: hand dyed cottons, silks, velvet.
Techniques: hand applique, piecing, hand quilting, trapunto.

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This quilt expresses my feelings towards a very special, almost unreal place where I have been lucky enough to live for three years. The long row of houses is the view from the University, near the site of the  Roman mosaic. I liked that view especially at dusk when the lights in the houses were switched on, and yet the sky was not dark. In fact,what I liked about this long row of houses was the idea of the gradually changing colours of the sky and the last rays of sunlight striking the walls of the houses.

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It is the same magical moment of time described by Barry Unsworth in his novel “After Hannibal”:
             “the whole town had been glowing with light,
               the radiant Umbrian light that came in early evening…” 
Each single house is reproduced as faithfully as possible, using photographs enlarged on a photocoping machine and piecing the tiny sections with freezer paper technique.

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Perugia is a lovely medieval town in the heart of Umbria, approximately halfway between Florence and Rome. Founded by the Etruscans, its favourable position up in the hills made it a Roman stronghold beginning from the 3rd century BC and for the next eight centuries. The mosaic with the celebrated Greek theme of Orpheus playing the lyre to the animals dates back to Roman times. Today, about two millenniums later, it is still there, incorporated into a modern building at the foot of the medieval city, to greet the many students who crowd one of the oldest universities in Europe (founded in 1307).

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The row of houses on the hill ends with a colossal and ambitious church built in honour of St. Francis of Assisi in the 14th century. The roof of the church collapsed in an earthquake but its side walls are still secure enough to host summer concerts under the open sky.
Below the church there are olive trees (for which I used tiny scraps of precious Japanese silks) which are symbolic of the whole region of Umbria as they relate to the sweetness of the landscape, the stillness of a region unchanged in centuries, and the sense of peace and meditation in the steps of St.  Francis.
Apart from the houses, the rest of the quilt is completely appliqued and quilted by hand.In particular, the animals are reverse appliqued against one piece of transparent silk of changing hue (definitely not easy to handle!). The design of the golden velveteen silk border in trapunto quilting I adapted from a decorative band on a 16th century vase from Deruta.

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