Old Age Pensioners'
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.