Old Age Pensioners' Organisation
British Columbia, Canada
The idea for this quilt came from Clara Halber, our Greater
Victoria Seniors president. It would be a way for every branch
of the Old Age Pensioners' Organisation in British Columbia
to express their concerns about government cuts to services.
To give it focus, quilter Alison Acker suggested its name,
the "Crying the Blues" quilt. And, of course, the
main colour would be blue.
Early in 2003, a call went out
to every branch asking for a quilt piece that represented
their most urgent concerns, with no specifics except for size
and colour - some shade related to blue, which would be the
background. We waited, not sure there were quilters still
around or if they would want to lend their craft to a protest.
Were we surprised when 32 pieces arrived! Even more surprising
was the variety of their concerns and the anger apparent in
so many contributions.
Some of the pieces are symbolic, like
the Lumby contribution entitled "Cutting Corners",
or others showing broken promises or soaring drug costs. But
most are folk art, like the contribution from Cumberland,
which depicts a woman aged 104 denied home care. Concern over
the closure of care facilities, court houses, hospitals and
lumber mills, soaring gas prices, poor roads and ferry service
- they are all expressed with both passion and artistry. Alison
put the pieces together very simply because this is a quilt
with a message.
We believe we have tapped into a deep, common
concern, using a traditional form of expression. The people
who have contributed might not feel comfortable protesting
in the streets but they have something to say and the craft
to make an artistic statement. What is more, the quilt has
travelled round the province, on exhibition as each branch
determined, so that its message reaches an even wider audience.
It has also been taken to the B.C. Legislature.