A display of thirty-six magnificent quilts pf the st Peter’s Love Quilt Project was exhibited at the Fish Hoek Civic Center over the weekend of 12 – 13 January.
Those who viewed the quilts were bowled over by the rich colours and the superb designs; craft turned to art work. In terms of quilting they are valuable pieces, representing an American heritage with an historic association which goes back over two hundred years. Yet at the core of these quilts is something far more enriching: the spirit of universal love.
During the event the co-ordinator, Gretchen Ginnerty gave two talks on the background to the project and the far reaching aspects of this remarkable outreach programme. The idea of the quilts was initially
conceived when members of the St Peter’s Episcopal Church in Arlington, Virginia planned a visit in August 2011, to connect with the St Francis Outreach Trust’s “Home to Grow” foster home in Masiphumelele, a project in which they partner.
The vision was to create something meaningful: a gift which could carry a message of love to each recipient as well as keep give warmth and comfort. As an expression of community involvement, the children at the St Peter’s Sunday school were tasked to hand drawn squares with their interpretation of friendship and love which were incorporated into traditional patchwork patterns by the ladies of St Peter’s congregation who assembled seven quilts. The response to the quilts was overwhelming, and Ginnerty on her return to the United States decided to expand the scope of the project. In little more than a year, a further fifty quilts were produced.
The project is also being used to teach American children about humanity and aspects of compassion and giving. Organisations such as schools, churches and Scout troops participate. Ginnerty remarked that the project touches those who participate, and it keeps expanding. As the word gets out various women groups and quilters from around the States are volunteering to do the sewing.
Each quilt is unique. A designer chooses the fabrics and colours and they are made up in the Log Cabin pattern which uses both light and dark strips of fabric. This contrast of tone represents life’s counterbalance. Surrounded by these strips and at the heart of each block are the messages of love. Each quilt incorporates twenty such squares, and they are what give the quilts their meaningful worth.
In addition to the children of the “Home to Grow” project, the quilts are distributed to the “Home from Home” organisation in Masiphumemelele, Ocean View and Vrygrond. The hand-over ceremonies are moving events, the community spirit along with the love and good wishes which are imbued in the quilts are handed on.
As a result of the children’s art squares, there is a storybook in the pipeline. Lori Rossiter of St Peter’s is researching and heading up the project and hopes to provide a book which will also be a teaching tool not only providing information on the mission but also teaching about the plight of orphaned children and the power of love.
Article and photographs supplied by Liz Hardman of Simon’s Town