Stone Diaries and Quilted Lines — Barbara Todd

Is it possible to be passionate about pattern and colour and texture and complexity, and yet make simple, even austere, quilts? Barbara Todd’s lecture will follow the evolution of her practice, showing how she has transformed her many and disparate sources of inspiration into coherent bodies of work. Her sources range from a child’s drawing to a stone carving from 2,500 B.C.; from a poem by Nelly Sachs to yesterday’s phone conversation; from a meticulously detailed 18th century marriage quilt to casual snap-shots. Her media are also wide ranging—from woolen fabric to cut wood, steel, and glass.

Barbara’s “Security Blankets” use dark woolen suiting fabric to create appliqués of bombs and missiles. Her pieced “Coffin Quilts” transform the traditional medallion pattern and overlay it with spirals and vines of a Sytho-Siberian funereal carpet. “Adam’s Boat” makes a tiny child’s drawing huge and overlays it with a stormy sea and the “Dream of the Wisemen.”

Her “Stone Quilts” use wools in black and white and every shade of grey to create the rounded, irregular shapes of seaside stones. Her wood and translucent mylar wall reliefs, using the same irregular shapes, echo the reliefs of the surrealist Hans Arp. 

“One Day Tells Its Tale to Another” pairs richly coloured wools with colours drawn from the landscapes of her travels, allowing the warp and weft of the fabrics to dictate their rectangular shapes. 

Nancy Tousley wrote in Canadian Art, “Todd’s inspirations seem to flow in alternating cycles, from the intimacies of domestic life to the rituals of art, from the rituals of domestic life to art’s most intimate revelations. Her vision integrates life and art.”