top of page

Where have all the flowers gone? - Ildiko Polyak

Just like all others, I was also hesitating long to choose just one 'text' as inspiration considering that I love literature, and I have made many a quilt based on some literary source. Which is the one that speaks to me but also to many others?

On second thought, I looked for some English-language text that many people know so that I could avoid translation, and thereby increasing the chances of misunderstanding or misinterpretation arising from language and/or culture.

While I have known the song for ages, I never knew it was composed and written by Pete Seeger. It has been sung by so many famous names over the decades that it has almost turned into a kind of folk song. Of course, it has a Hungarian version as well, which has been performed by a range of different artists. Let me put a link here to my personal favourite Maria Mezei , who sang it some 50 years ago. I just love her coarse, deep and dramatic voice!

My very firm starting point was that I did not want flowers, girls or graves, but rather to represent the emotional impact, the sadness, the tragedy that the song emanates. Thus my vision was a piece of grassland, possibly at the end of summer or after a war or when the whole world dies. These days I see very little reason to be optimistic about the future.

For the quilt I dye-painted a piece of fabric in some drab yellowish tones, and then added a few narrow brownish-reddish stripes. Dried flower stalks, or a kind of memorial? Finally, I dropped a few dark red spots in some areas. Flower heads or blood? To add a bit of depth to the composition, I added a curved wedge of greyish-blue in the top left corner.

On top of the quilt sandwich, I stitched on yellowish-brownish strips of half an inch or so, again to increase depth and texture.

The quilt measures 24" by 24".

16 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page