After the Last Sky – Jenny Bowker

This is a link to the article referenced below.


Ann Murray. “In the Fray: Making and Meaning in Jenny Bowker’s Memorial Quilt After the Last Sky“. H-ART. Revista de historia, teoría y crítica de arte, no. 7 (2020): 53-68.

<; Viewed 7 September 2020

This article discusses the formal elements of the imagery and piecing of the quilt and how they have been used to reference various aspects of the incident but also throwing back to some middle eastern history with the patterning.

Some of the points mentioned included using a number of triangles in the background to show the numbers of people killed and using florals in the flames referencing memorial. There is also discussion around how the scale of a quilt can be much increased compared to the usual scale of a photo, and how it reaches a different audience in a more intimate setting compared to an online photograph. It brings this imagery back into view long after it’s been lost to the ether as a digital photo.

So it is discussing this as art, and indicating how it can be analysed using formal elements similar to any art work.

I’ve tried to research recent Jenny Bowker work other than this but she doesn’t seem to have added anything to her website since this. This work was well received but still only exhibited in quilt exhibitions, as far as I can see.

Personally I’m familiar with this quilt and may have even seen it in person, but until today I hadn’t looked closely. I’m embarrassed to admit that I thought it was a footballer and usually quickly dismissed it as a pictorial quilt, which I tend to shy away from. Of course now understanding the background makes me look at it differently.

How can this article relate to my possibly Honours project?

I would like to do an honours project about the current place of the quilt in the contemporary art world and whether that is changing.

To that end I would be making quilt work that considered formal elements to create meaning as in an art work, as well as aesthetic considerations.

To that end my “companions” would be artists using the quilt as their medium, but presenting their work as art.

I would look for artists with fine art academic training or at least approaching their work with this type of mindset, who are presenting their work outside of dedicated quilt shows. Could be difficult. I know Sue de Vanny entered a quilt in this year’s Archibald but not sure if it got in.Just checked and finalists announced on Sept 17. I really hope it does. I don’t think Jenny Bowker’s quilt has been presented except in quilt shows.

My work would involve presenting a body of work of quilts that fit with my idea of art – formal elements, meaning, ideas, message, connection, emotive, aesthetically pleasurable.

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