This rectangular coverlet is made of irregular pieces of fabric stitched together with white and coloured thread using traditional quilting techniques. It is embroidered with various motifs (swan, flowers, maple leaves) and names.

Maud Darling

(Almonte, Ontario, 1875 – Barrie, Ontario, 1959)

 

Friendship Sampler Crazy Quilt

about 1900

Velvet and taffeta

194 x 143 cm

Gift of Margaret Cliff, 1990

Agnes Etherington Art Centre, Q90-002

Photo: Larry Ostrom


The title Friendship Sampler Crazy Quilt refers to a type of coverlet and to the technique of piecing together irregular fabric patches with decorative stitches. Maud Darling embroidered this work of handicraft art with details related to her personal life and identity, such as the names of relatives and friends, and fragments of memories. This juxtaposition of autobiographical elements suggests that Darling created the quilt as a form of self-portrait. The profusion and complexity of the embroidered motifs attest her talent both as a seamstress and as an artist.


Little is known about Maud Darling and her art other than that she lived in Ontario and worked as a dressmaker. However, the three-link-chain emblem of the Rebekah Lodge she embroidered on Friendship Sampler Crazy Quilt suggests Darling was a member of that women’s service organization. Although the craft of recycling fabrics into bed covers was born of necessity, quilting as Darling practiced it was a sign of luxury. It denotes an enviable social position in the turn-of-the-century Victorian middle class to which the artist belonged.

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