Tuesday, March 10, 2009

As Promised - New Finished Work

There are three stories and I am going to tell them - bear with me as the quilts are only intended to be the tip of the iceberg, a memento.

Jenny Bowker

My pieces for Collections started as work based on the things I own, and in these quilts I have featured things from Egypt.

I love my cluttered home, and every object has a story. Each is a starting point- it evokes a memory of people or places, maybe one specific time, or a long period of multiple visits. As I made the work it became important to include some of the people I loved in the city
of Cairo.

Hassan and the Glass

Hassan blows glass in a tiny room in the centre of a square opposite the Qaitbey Mosque in the City of the Dead in Cairo.


The room is overwhelmingly hot, even in Winter, and shelves around the room are packed with bright treasures. Colours are so vivid that they seem to trap the fire inside the glass. I went there often and each time I would buy some small pieces.



I wanted some sense of the ordered ranks of jewel-like glass in its silhouetted shapes, and the incredible heat of the room and that Hassan continually worked with. I worried that the quilt was too rigid as I started the racks of glass, but it seemed to improve as I started free-cutting elements of fire.

Jenny Bowker_1216.jpg

I noticed that as he started to work with the molten glass, he focussed and became intent. I wanted that concentration and I wanted his face to be really strong.


Jenny Bowker_1218.jpg

Ittayer - The Friday Market in the City of the Dead

Ittayer has a junk stall in the City of the Dead. It is not tidy - it
is grotty and cluttered and he rarely has things I actually wanted to
buy. He has a wonderful welcoming smile. I have a collection of old
keys, and a few locks, and hamzas - the hand-shaped protection against
the Jealous Eye.

I do not actually have an image of his stall - but I am using bits and pieces from many places.

IMG_3207.JPG IMG_2711.JPG IMG_3186.JPG IMG_2720.JPG

He has a marvelous relaxed smile and a joyous attitude yet he lives in one of the hardest places in Cairo.

He usually sells metals and I have found some treasures over the years.

Jenny Bowker_1297.jpg

Jenny Bowker_1219.jpg

Abu Ali and the Gilded Chairs

Abu Ali is usually strikingly dressed in black and white in the area
where he carves and sells chairs.



He is guaranteed a living as this is one thing even the most wealthy Egyptians will spend money on. The chairs are gilded and covered in elaborate fabrics, silks and satins and flocked velvets. It is so strange to walk in the tiny overcrowded streets of the furniture areas and see, among the dirt, these chair frames gilded and glowing.



On this day I had arrived to bring him some photographs and found that
he was not well. The escort I gathered in asking for him took me to
his window and I handed up the photos. He was moved and thrilled to
get them, and this is when I took this photograph.



DSCN2082.JPG Jenny Bowker_1213.jpg

Jenny Bowker_1205.jpg

Now you know what I have been doing for the last few months. I have been missing Egypt and have been working my fingers off trying to re-create some elements in my house.

I decided to blog these when I realised that none can really be competitive in the States. All are committed to the Collections for two years of travel. By then they are just too old for Houston and many large shows in the US.

So - you might as well see them.


Blogger Denise Aumick said...

Incredible. You have captured so much personality in these pieces that the men are very real to the viewer.

9:32 pm  
Blogger Mai-Britt Axelsen said...

I can only agree with Denise. Thank you for sharing these quilts and stories with us. You are one very talented lady and I look forward to seeing your future quilts.....

10:15 pm  
Blogger Tonya Ricucci said...

gorgeous quilts and wonderful photos. I just hope I get to see these in person some day.

11:10 pm  
Blogger 71square said...

Thank you, thank you so much, for posting them, for letting us see them. They are so beautiful and once again, the country and the people come alive. I've often thought how much you must miss Egypt, not I know!

The third quilt was a complete surprise. I knew Mohamed from the photo from the window. (He reminded me of my father-in-law.) The gilted chairs were a delightful surprise.

Once more, thank you SO very much for posting them!

Kim B.

12:09 am  
Blogger Chocolate Cat said...

Thank you so much for sharing these with us. I am in awe of your work, it brings to life your stories.

5:38 am  
Blogger Unknown said...

A joy to see and read about.

5:39 am  
Blogger RHONDA said...

Stunning, Jenny! And a fascinating glimpse of a fascinating country.

7:35 am  
Blogger Marlene said...

I have always admired your work and feel it a privilege to be able to see these quilts. They are absolutely magnificent and you must be very pleased with them.What a therapeutic way to help deal with not being there.
Hope you have a great tour.


7:57 am  
Blogger Quiltdivajulie said...

Thank you so very much for sharing these with us (the beautiful photos, your stories and feelings, and the amazing quilts).

9:01 am  
Blogger Kristin L said...

These are so beautiful, not only because of your skills as an artist, but also because of the amazing stories each one conveys. Thank you for sharing them with us.

5:18 pm  
Blogger Sherry said...

Incredible. I love your work. You can really tell you love what your doing and it shows. I wish I had 1/3 of you talent.

6:04 pm  
Blogger Quinta da Quilter said...

They rock!

Just amazing! Looking forward to seeing them in person someday!


8:42 pm  
Blogger aykayem said...

wow ... they look great - can't wait to (eventually) see them at show and tell at a CQ meeting.
I am also hoping Mum and I can actually FIND at least some of these places when we are over there (in Egypt) in a few weeks time ... reading all the stories/etc on here is probably one of the main reasons we decided to include Egypt in our itinerary! LOL

11:41 pm  
Blogger Sue said...

Beautiful work. I started reading your blog because of your quilts and kept coming back because of your stories and pictures of the people of Egypt. Thank you for providing a window to an area Americans unfortunately tend to be frightened of or demonize.

12:50 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow!! Thanks for sharing Jenny.

12:55 pm  
Blogger Judy said...


Your quilts are beautiful and your blog has helped inform me on Egypt and Cairo so they are no longer just names, many thanks.

4:08 pm  
Blogger crazyquiltlady said...

What amazing quilts, stories- you truly bring these people to life in your quilts- I am in awe of your workmanship- thank you for sharing

11:17 pm  
Blogger Martha Tsihlas said...

Thank you Jenny for the beautiful posting, you captured those men so well. I visited Cairo for 10 days and fell in love with the people. I brought home a very old scale that I bought in the market in Cairo. It reminds me every day of those beautiful people. Your quilts capture everything. You are so talented. Thanks again.

6:30 am  
Blogger cowpaddocksjulie said...

I have only just found your blog and find it inspirational. Coincidentally I had only found it about a fortnight prior to attending a Gloria Loughman workshop and she had asked me whether I knew about your blog and how amazing your work was. I am in complete awe at your talents and your ability to bring life to your quilts.

6:50 pm  
Blogger Sandy said...

Jenny, I am about to downsize and have to rationalise my quilting stash of fabrics, patterns, tools and mazazines. I started to think that they would help re-establish a quilt group (or help start one) as the case may be. I have eventually discovered your site and read Alice's story. I would love to be able to send them on and help start a new group. Please let me know if Alice is interested. We may be able to utilise the Air Express Offer on the Victorian Quilter's website or work something out. Look forward to hearing from you.

2:05 pm  
Blogger Liz Needle said...

Jenny they are wondefrul storiea about real characters and the quilts are stunning. I love the Hassan and the Glass quilt. Thank you for sharing them so generously.

10:43 pm  
Anonymous Regina said...


These quilts are FANTASTIC, so very beautiful and made with so much perfection and skill!
And I'm very grateful you have shared them with us, thank you for that,

Regina Dwarkasing
Sint Maarten DWI

9:56 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your love of Egypt and the people you came to know shows so splendidly in these pieces, Jenny. I am so glad that you decided to share these, it is a privilege beyond words, and you have an amazing gift for expressing the place that was your home for so long.
I think that much of your heart and spirit are *still* there. Congratulations to you on bringing Egypt home for yourself.
Rain in rainy NC

10:48 am  
Blogger Bunny said...

Your work is so absolutely amazing, I am so happy I happened on to your blog. I would love to be able to do this kind of art. You certainly amaized me.

11:51 am  
Blogger Learning Spanish at 41 said...

While your quilt work is lovely, indeed, I enjoyed this post so much for the stories of the Egyptian artisians and the photos of their shops and work. Well done on all! Just found your blog today and am enjoying it very much, thanks!

9:16 am  
Blogger Michelle said...

Your quilts are absolutely spectacular and the stories that go with them add so much!

10:31 am  
Blogger Unknown said...

I am so happy to see true craftsmanship again. When I have travelled and taught in the Middle East, it made me happy to still see men who made brooms and carved and hammered bowls. Thanks for sharing these pics!

2:01 am  
Blogger Leah said...

wow!! THOSE are AWESOME! I love your colors, and what realism. You have really captured the emotion on the faces of the old men. Thank you for sharing. I love it!

1:01 am  
Blogger The holidaying librarian said...

Jenny - I have just seen these quilts today at the Textile Art Festival in Brisbane. They are so amazing - you're work is truly fabulous. As is the work by all members of tACTile.
We had to keep going back to them to look at every detail - each time we saw something new.

5:39 pm  
Blogger Linda Robertus said...

Dear Jenny, I have followed your blog for a long time and loved these quilts when I saw them here, but yesterday I saw them in real life at the Textile Art Festival in Brisbane and I just had to tell you that I thought they were the most beautiful quilts I have ever seen. You are a great artist.
I have spent some time in Cairo as an exchange student many years ago and loved it. Your quilts capture the atmosphere very well. We hope to be able to live and work there some day, but if that isn't possible we will at least visit again when our boys are a little older and show them this beautiful country.
Best wishes, Linda Robertus

9:39 am  
Blogger Gale said...

Outstanding! Your writing, your photos, your quilts! Very inspiring. Gale

11:48 pm  
Blogger limpingalong said...

What a talent you have!

4:27 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jenny I hope these quilts are going to make it to the QuiltWest Show in WA this year. I saw Hashim in the flesh & that was stunning! Would be awesome to see more of your work in the flesh!


10:58 am  
Anonymous vishav bhraman said...

Nice article..

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10:37 pm  

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