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Sunshine Houses

When, at the age of 18, I moved to study at the University of Szeged, Hungary's 4th largest city, I had never heard of the 'sunshine houses'. In a much rural-looking district called Lower Town, you could see streets full of sunshine houses on both sides. Back then, they were in particularly in poor condition: most badly needed renovation or even complete overhaul of the woodwork.

Commonly referred to as sunshine houses, we are actually talking about a carefully designed wood panelling on the facade, which resemble as if they were rays of the sun. As Szeged was severely flooded in 1879, most of the current buildings were constructed in the 1880s. The popular belief is the design served to keep off the evil, particularly natural disasters and epidemics, with a small opening, called 'God's eye' in the middle. Very interestingly, nowhere else in Hungary can you find similar sunshine houses.

Using one house as reference, I fiddled quite much in an attempt to find the best composition. I wanted to make sure that viewers will perceive it as a house, rather than just a large sun. I marked the design with pencil on a piece of white poplin. Using thickened Procion dyes in two shades of yellow, blue and black, I painted the fabric with a plastic card.

As I felt that the tiny window indeed needs an eye, I stitched one, and used Inktense pencils to lighten the area on both sides. I kept quilting to a minimum, using yellow thread for the outlines and a couple additional rays. In the sky area I kept the radial composition with parallel quilting.

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