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After Life - Allison James

Afterlife by Jenny Hockey

It is still raining

when we twist between saplings,

dodge battalions of brambles,

forcing an entry under a nailed-down door,

bent like surgeons

probing the secret chambers of a skull,

training light on candle ends, oil-clothed

larder shelves, a half drunk mug of tea and

walls part-stripped, a staircase steeped in rot —

wrecked treads leading us on

up into olive, glassed-in light

where creepers squeeze between window

and frame, another entry forced

for all the young wood’s greenery

sprouting where couples once found rest,

lodged in rooms stopped up by death.

This quilt was inspired by a poem written by my friend Jenny Hockey and it was first published in The Frogmore Papers. The poem describes her visit to a derelict boarded up house in rural Lincolnshire, UK. It had been boarded up and left to rot by the family, after a disputed will.

I wanted to make this quilt as Jenny and I have been friends for many years and also colleagues in our former lives as academics. We have written books and articles together and now, in retirement we are collaborating again – her poem and my quilt are speaking to each other.

I chose to make a figurative quilt that could tell the story of the poem.

The doors, stairs and windows are appliqued, overlaid with fragments of net to reflect the derelict character of the house. Brambles and creepers are couched on top, and finished with hand embroidery. The background batik floral fabric is quilted with leaves to provide the finishing touch to this picture of a long lost house, buried in the undergrowth.


After Life

24" x 24"

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