Climate change is the greatest challenge of our times. I have tried to highlight some of those problems through my quilts. Each set is inspired by a specific real situation - although that is also repeated elsewhere – and each has either two or three stages, to show the 'before' and 'after'.
The four elements:
WATER: floods, sea levels rising, coastal wetlands affected in Britain; also in places like Egypt, Bangladesh. Buildings destroyed, agricultural land lost, affecting food supplies; contamination of water supplies.
FIRE: earlier onset and higher strengths of bush fires in Australia, tundra fires in Canada, wildfires in USA: destruction of woodlands and dwellings. Burning vegetation releases stored-up carbon into the atmosphere, exacerbating global warming.
EARTH: large swathes of land are uncovered by the melting and receding ice sheets in Greenland, the Arctic and the Antarctic, and by retreating glaciers in many places of the world. Sea levels rise; fresh water supplies disappear; oceans become less friendly to algae and plankton, crucial for the food chain.
AIR: a grey blanket of air pollution (gas ozone) hangs almost permanently over Mexico City. This is happening throughout the world, particularly in urban areas, and in many developing and industrialising countries, causing respiratory illnesses. Vegetation is affected through acid rain.
I made the first of the four quilts, Water, for the International Contest at the European Patchwork Meeting in 2012 - the theme was Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow. I made the other three, to complete the Four Elements idea, for my exhibition at the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham, this August 2014. It made an impression on a large number of visitors. The explanatory paragraphs were printed on the wall.
For the next challenge, I hope to use the same idea, but fitting it into the 40 cm by 80 cm size set by Hsin-Chen.