MAYA ROSE FERNANDES
On December 15, 2023, artist Savia Viegas will map the process of developing 'The Talking Quilt'. The art project will locate, filter and archive community narratives through embroidery on upcycled jeans at the event which will be held at the Art Park in Panjim (11am to 12 pm).
Dr Savia Viegas holds a PhD in art history, and has taught at the University of Mumbai.
She is a former Senior Fulbright and Ministry of Culture (India) Fellow, and is also a respected novelist and museum curator.
'The Talking Quilt' is a collaborative project between her and her mother, Bertha Eliza Viegas (1933 – 2015), and a whole community of jeans-wearers who, in surrendering their previously-loved and worn garments to up-cycle, also ceded a slice of their life, dreams and aspirations.
Most of these jeans were worn by young people between the ages of 10 and 18 from among family and friends, and had formed the canvas on which they had painted their first dreams, their first sweats of public and private life.
In 2007, Savia’s mother, Bertha, who was a skilled embroiderer, crystallized motifs from her time and embroidered them onto the hardy jeans fabric, softened by use.
These inscribed lengths, still joined with their heavy seams, were stitched into a quilt cover by her.
“When my mother passed away in 2015, I found this quilt when I was sorting through her belongings. It fell to the floor and on opening, was like a huge tarpaulin, heavy with embroidery but moldy with neglect," says Savia.
"Images from the life of the community that her work had crystallized and prettified, jumped out at me. The more I looked, the more they spoke to me of my own childhood stories,” she continues.
Many of the stories have feminist and environment slants. Savia crocheted these images together with a joining border in 2023.
“To explain community narratives, which I had privy to when growing up, I embroidered each of these ten narratives on old denim and wrote out these stories," explains Savia. "One is called ‘The Rose,’ for example, another is ‘Romeo and Juliet.’"
Crochet is an age old looping craft introduced under Portuguese colonialism, which took deep root among women in Goa.
The loops and the knots as they linked in their myriads, unraveled for Savia the kernels of these stories that her mother had embroidered.
You can register for artist Savia Viegas' 'The Talking Quilt' by checking out the festival website www.serendipityartsfestival.com