Crazy quilt with handstitched quilted figures
Quilts are associated with femininity and comfort. The fabric used from a long worn garment give us an emotive glimpse of the past. Quilts were often the only voice a woman had; she could imply meanings and symbols within the patterns she stitched.
Lieutenant-General Sir Thomas Picton of the British Army had been the first British Governor of Trinidad rule with an iron fist and earned the name Tyrant of Trinidad.
Picton was brought to trial in London for authorising the torture of 14-year-old Louisa Calderon a free mixed race girl, who had been accused of colluding with a thief to steal money from her mistress.
She was tortured by orders from Picton to extract a confession. She was suspended by one arm with only a spiked post to rest her bare foot on to relieve the pressure.
At his trial Picton claimed it was legal under Spanish law which was being followed at the time, he was found guilty by the jury but was never sentenced.
Details of stitching
In Trinidad there is a yearly Carnival. Many costumed groups participate, one of these being the ‘Moko Jumbies’, ‘Moko’ meaning healer and ‘Jumbie’ ghost or spirit. Modelled on African stilt walkers who appear at funerals in West Africa, they are said to span the living and the spirit world with their long legs.
This quilt highlights the lost voice of Luisa Calderon. My intention is to represent Picton’s part in Trinidad’s history, but not to allow that story to define modern Trinidad. I have used the red, white and black of the Trinidad flag, signifying its independence. The spike used to torture Louise Calderon becomes a pattern across the quilt incorporating tonal crazy quilting technique indicating the layers of time. The hand stitched Moko Jumbie figures are wearing 18th century British dress and the style of hat favoured by Picton. By using male figures as Moko Jumbies, my intention is to turn the narrative around and regain power for the silent voice of Louise Calderon. The overall quilt stitching is a repeat wave running left to right, reinforcing the invisible link between past and present and the modern Moko Jumbie figure from Trinidad’s carnival tradition, striding forward towards the future.