Life 4 – Hello Dear, What Did You Do Today?

SOLD  (in private collection, London)

My work is featured in our new Through Our Hands book, including an image of this piece, here in the shop (normally £10 plus post and packing but now on special offer at £5 as we only have a few left!)

Life 4 – “Hello Dear, What Did You Do Today” has been selected by
Roxane Zand, Sotheby’s, Amy Mechowski, currently Sotheby’s Institute, previously Curator at V&A, Andrew Gwilliams, White Cube, and Len Massey, RCA, to be part of the Spirit of Womanhood Exhibition at the Oxo Tower, South Bank, London in March

If you’d like to see it if you’re in London, the Exhibition will open to the public 20th – 30th March 11.00-18.00 at galleries@OXO, South Bank, London. Other work on show will include pieces by Tracy Emin

The Exhibition Private View is 18.30 on Tuesday 25th March, Opened by Melvin Bragg and Cherie Blair.
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The Story sewn onto the body: 

The husband of a busy woman returns home, and asks the question, as he does everyday, “Hello dear, what have you done today”  The words stitched on the quilt are a blistering response.

Well dear, I worried. I had coffee this morning. Coffee is the second most valuable legal commodity after oil but is largely grown by subsistence farmers and I forgot to buy Fair Trade.

Then I took our grandchildren to school. Did you know that 90% of all childcare still rests on women’s backs.

On the way to the hated supermarket to buy food, I saw that lady from the house by the park in her burkha who everyone says is lonely and abused but can’t tell the police in case her family is deported, and thought about the veiling and seclusion of women and the cult of virginity and the death penalty for women’s adultery, and tried to imagine what it was like to be killed with stones.  I thought of rape and how under Shar’ia law a rape victim needs four male witnesses to substantiate her testimony. In the west we might just say she’s making the whole thing up.  I thought how rape could end if men just stopped doing it.

Then I had my hair done and looked in the mirror and saw how old I was.  When you get old you cease to exist, people just don’t seem to see you anymore. Perhaps I should lose weight or wear high heels to make me taller and show off my legs.  Perhaps my nose needs altering or I could get my ears pierced or my teeth whitened.  This made me think of trying to look nice and how odd this was when 140 million women have been circumcised and cruelly mutilated because it reduces libido and prevents promiscuity.  No, I’ll just bleach and perm my hair and put on false eyelashes and shave my legs and pad my bra, and file and paint my toenails. I’d best skip lunch or I’ll get fat.

I pottered about the garden and planted some lettuce. I thought of the women who make up over 50% of the world’s population yet only hold the title to 1% of the land, and produce more than half its food.  They work 2/3rds of the world’s working hours but receive 10% of the world’s income.

Then I collected the grandchildren from school and took them to cubs and ballet and thought of childbearing and the way fertility can be controlled, like the 35% of all Puerto Rican woman that were sterilized by the US Agency for Development.

Then I paid a visit to that frail neighbour who The Meals On Wheels lady told me about. She’s sad and alone because her family have had to move to search for work and she’s frightened and doesn’t want to go into residential care but she’s in the system and thinks no one is listening.

Then I came home to do the cleaning and the cooking, sort out the clothes and do the washing, and remembered what the Ladybird books taught me in school.


“Here we are at home” says Daddy.

Peter helps Daddy with the car, and Jane helps Mummy get the tea.

“Good girl,” says Mummy to Jane. “You are a good girl to help me
like this.”

When I had our children I worked part time for 20 years without sick pay or a pension and tried to nurture you all in sickness and life, and help keep everyone fed and educated.  If an Englishman’s home is his castle why doesn’t he clean it.  Only 3% of PLC Directors in Britain are women and only 4% of judges.  78% of all clerical workers are women, but only 11% are managers.

Then I started to work on my quilt, and you’re reading it now.  Women artists only earn 1/3 of male artists.  So I stopped and made your tea. That’s how I spent my day, dear, how about you?

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45 Comments

  1. This is the most meaningful piece of art I have seen. Thank you for giving a voice to so many issues.

  2. Thankyou Thankyou Thankyou so very much. I love these quilts I love your process and it shows in the fruits of your labour!

  3. I’m overwhelmed, awed, and now crying. As a 30 year quilter this is the only quilt I’ve ever seen that has it’s own soul!

  4. Your work is stunning and real and profound and scary and necessary. Whatever you do….don’t stop!

    • Dear Anonymous, (Fort Worth, Texas) IP 97.32.70.135 Why did you look at so many then? Please feel free not to look at them again.

  5. Hi Annabel, Your quilt is wonderful! I am a Visual Arts major at a Canadian university. I have been taking a course entitled Gender and Art and I am writing my final paper for the course analyzing Life 4. When I first discovered your quilt I was fascinated! I am a quilter and a painter too (now that I am in art school) and I understand the enormous amount of work that goes into your pieces. Now that I have taken the Gender and Art course I can look at it even more deeply. I am excited to write about this piece and am thrilled that you have created such an interesting piece to write about!

    • Thank you Nancy and jolly good luck with your course. Keep in touch and let me know how it goes! Annabel x

  6. WOW. This is the first quilt I have ever seen that truly merits being called an “Art Quilt.” Yes, I’m here via Pinterest, and I loved your quilt even before reading the words. The composition and skill of the painting are so far beyond what I have seen anyone else create in a quilt, and I immediately thought of so many oil paintings of nudes hanging in museums… But those nudes are usually very young, idealized women (at least they are idealized according to the ideals of the era in which they were created). So I love that it’s an older woman, with a mature, less-than perfect body. I love that she’s quilting. And I love that she’s quilting nude, and looking at the viewer as if to say, “Yeah, I’m quilting naked. So what?” I love the authenticity of the red nail polish and the shearling slippers. And then I came to this site and was able to read the word quilted on the body and I loved it even more. Truly a masterpiece — congratulations!

  7. This reminds me of a quilt I saw several years ago at Pacific International Quilt Show and indeed it may have been yours. It is just so wonderful.

  8. This reminds me of a quilt I saw several years ago at Pacific International Quilt Show and indeed it may have been yours. It is just so wonderful

  9. WOW, I liked the quiitl because she looks like me and then I read the words. So true, we are invisible if we let it be.

  10. I am a quilter, and I must say that this quilt is an absolutely wonderous piece of work. Second, I applaud your courage. I too hope that people will not get so blindly tied up in the nudity that they fail to see your message. Now I have to check out your other Life quilts. Thank you.

  11. Soul lifting! My husband actually doesn’t ask me what I’ve done during my day at home. He assumes! This is a beautiful, heart-rending quilt and yet for me it is also happy and uplifting. It’s ME!

  12. Hi Annabel,
    I love your quilts, I love the fact that they do cause such a reaction, change does not come without someone taking a stand and making the invisible visible.

  13. I saw one of your quilts hanging at a Mancuso show in West Palm Beach. It was not segregated, just hanging on a black curtain, free for all to see. It was the first time I had seen your work and I admit I was taken aback. Most quilters are of an age and body type to strongly resemble your subject. And most women are faced with the issues presented often. After I had read the quilt, I stood back and watched reactions to it, which were interesting to say the least. Your work has it all, beautiful composition, technical elegance, thought provoking content. Don’t stop! Quilts as an art form exist to make people think. Your work is successful on all levels.

  14. I’m in awe of your insight and talent.
    Do not read comments from, or pay attention to, negative people. They will ruin your life and drain away your happiness. God Bless.

  15. Thank you from the bottom of my aching heart. I have to say this is by far the most riveting peace of art I have encountered. I had not read your and every woman’s thought yet. Life truly is not so kind to us especially in the autumn of life. Still we carry on

  16. Wow. I looked at your quilt and I saw myself. I smiled. I cried. I felt a sense of belonging. As I read your story I experienced an emotional smorgasbord. What a truly wonder work of art. Thank you.

  17. When I first seen this work of art, I thought it was my grandmother, uncanny how the much the model resembles her. After reading the blog, your website and videos, I am truly a fan. Love, Love, Love your work! If I every get to UK again, I will be timing the visit with a show so I may see these works of art. Thank you for sharing….Shirley

  18. I am speechless. Your work is amazing. A wonderful artistic expression. I would love to see some of work someday. Will you ever show your work in the USA? Thank you .

    • I realized that I hadn’t replied to lots of comments on this post – I’d got myself mixed up with the other blog’s posting about it!! Thank you all for your lovely thoughts, I’m touched. I did exhibit in America last year as part of World Quilt (Mancuso) but was horrified if I’m honest, that the quilt was put behind a black curtain on it’s own and you could only see it by waiting your turn to peek in. The cost of sending quilts to the States and the reception of them in some places, is enough to put me off if I’m honest. I don’t really show here in the UK unless it’s part of Through Our Hands (www.throughourhands.co.uk) which I co-curate with Laura Kemshall. There will be a couple on show in Bilston (Wolverhampton, WAVE) in May to July 2015 and another couple at Festival of Quilts in August 2015. I hoppe that at some point when I’ve reached about 20, I’ll be able to start looking for venues for a solo show too. A x

  19. Love the quilt, absolutely fabulous work. But the words, oh my goodness how they touched my soul. Thank you so very very much for sharing this with us! Oh the injustice of it all – there is much wrong with the world but I live in hope it will be better in the future.

  20. Wow! You really put everything into that! As we do….every day. Thank you. You have made me think about my life, our lives, everyone’s life. Bless you.

  21. Your work has left my head bowed, hands covering my face, a sad sigh forced from my lungs, a catch in my throat but, somehow, some strange how, a smile on my face. Thank you.

I love to read your comments, thank you.