the fabric of society: an exhibition of quilts by Alice Strange
Puffin Water Adventures, Albany Terrace, George Street, Oban (Opposite the Pheonix Cinema) – 19-26 November, 2016 – 11am-5pm daily
the theme: migration
I made these quilts in response to the emergence of immigration as a contested issue during the EU referendum campaign, when I found myself comparing frequently negative perceptions of immigrants with my own positive experience as an emigrant from Scotland, and an immigrant to New Zealand.
For many centuries, Scots have had an enormous propensity to emigrate: about three million of us moved to other countries between the 1820s and the 1980s. As a consequence, Scots form one of the world’s largest diasporas, with some 30 million people around the world claiming Scottish ancestry.
Some emigration was forced. For example, a shift from small-scale agriculture to more profitable sheep farming by landowners during the 18th and 19th centuries resulted in emigration of Highlanders to the coast, the Scottish Lowlands, and further afield to North America and Australasia.
Some emigration was by choice. Many Scots sought a better life, taking advantage of efforts by British Commonwealth countries to attract immigrants, such as New Zealand’s offer of £10 assisted passage to key workers between 1947 and 1975.
Whether forced or voluntary, migration has shaped the history of both Scotland and our chosen destinations, sometimes positively, often negatively: immigration had a devastating effect on Australian Aborigines and Canada’s First Nations.
There are many migration stories and perspectives. This work draws on my own experience, and expresses my wish for our response to the unfolding migration crisis to be informed and compassionate.
the medium: quilt
I chose quilt as the medium, because of its association with both comfort and hardship: warm bedding is created from scraps of fabric. Many of the quilts use fabric that I have designed specifically for this project.