Otago Daily Times

‘Quiltlets’ rep­re­sent Covid mes­sages

- MOLLY HOUSEMAN

YOU’VE heard of tiny houses, tiny gar­dens and now tiny quilts.

Ul­rike Us­lar, of Palmer­ston North, de­signed and made a ‘‘quilt­let’’ ev­ery day dur­ing the Covid­19 lock­down and as the coun­try moved through the alert lev­els.

But all 81 of them were more than just a hobby to cure lock­down bore­dom.

The quiltlets rep­re­sented the mes­sages com­mu­ni­cated through the Gov­ern­ment’s 1pm me­dia brief­ing each day, as well as the roller­coaster of emo­tions ex­pe­ri­enced by many, she said.

Now, Ms Us­lar, who has a back­ground in teach­ing, fine arts and coun­selling, has been tour­ing them around the coun­try — mak­ing a stop in Dunedin ear­lier in the week.

‘‘I just wanted to com­mu­ni­cate some­thing that was worth­while and, if any­thing, I want to make peo­ple look and think.

‘‘Peo­ple just see what they want to see and think what they are told to think.’’

The quiltlets were con­ver­sa­tion starters, she said.

‘‘They are not al­ways ex­plicit . . . It is an in­vi­ta­tion for you to let your­self in as much as you want to and there are al­ways sev­eral pos­si­bil­i­ties of in­ter­pre­ta­tion.’’

She be­gan her first tile on March 21.

It started with a tra­di­tional quilt block, but then one of the blocks shifted out of place, rep­re­sent­ing the sud­den need to so­cial dis­tance, she said.

The quiltlets — which each took 24 hours to com­plete and are 12 inches (30.5cm) by 12 inches in size — de­picted ev­ery­thing from a fam­ily in their bub­ble on day 9, to day 56 when the Stu­dent Vol­un­teer Army de­liv­ered bis­cuits, gro­ceries and medicine to those in need.

She used a quilt­ing tech­nique called bis­cuit to reflect that day.

On day 34, Prime Min­is­ter Jacinda Ardern high­lighted the con­tri­bu­tion of es­sen­tial work­ers, in­clud­ing clean­ers.

That in­spired Ms Us­lar to make a quilt­let us­ing yel­low fab­ric — to rep­re­sent Covid­19 — and a Chux cloth and un­used clean­ing items from around her house.

She be­gan quilt­ing in 2011 and has in­cor­po­rated commentary into her work dur­ing the past three years.

Her work has rep­re­sented a range of so­cial and po­lit­i­cal sit­u­a­tions, in­clud­ing the Me Too move­ment.

She con­tin­ued her tour yes­ter­day, head­ing to Christchur­ch, and will travel to Welling­ton next month.

 ?? PHOTO: GRE­GOR RICHARD­SON ?? Sew top­i­cal . . . Ul­rike Us­lar with one of the em­broi­dery pan­els she made dur­ing the Covid­19 lock­down.
PHOTO: GRE­GOR RICHARD­SON Sew top­i­cal . . . Ul­rike Us­lar with one of the em­broi­dery pan­els she made dur­ing the Covid­19 lock­down.

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