Pondering about ‘next steps’, I look up from my laptop to see a photograph of the ‘Imagine’ banner created by the Daylesford Embroidered Banner Group in 1982. The first of many ‘social cause’ banners, it was constructed drawing upon a ‘library’ of embroidered letters created by community members – women, men and children – in a project inspired and curated by local Daylesford artist Margaret Leunig, working alongside writers Diane Parsons and Christine Stokes.
I was quietly embroidering a smocked calico nightdress during Margaret Leunig’s embroidery class at the old Victoria Hotel in late 1981 when Margaret raised her idea. The group brainstormed the concept and began early planning. However, not long after, I left Daylesford on a teaching exchange to Kamloops Senior Secondary College, in British Columbia.
A few months later a letter arrived at my Kamloops address from members of the embroidery group inviting me, as a 'founding member’, to contribute a letter to the first banner. Titled ‘Imagine’ and inspired following the first anniversary of John Lennon’s tragic death in New York on December 8th 1980, it is to be made up of embroidered letters on same sized squares featuring black, white and gold fabrics and threads.
Thrilled to be invited, I bid for the letter ‘M’. I’d just completed a Patchwork course in Kamloops - ‘M’ is geometrically suited using patchwork! I also decide to embroider an outline of a peace dove in gold thread in the white space under the top of the M – this seems a fitting way to remember John Lennon’s concern to ‘give peace a chance’.
My longed-for summer break and holiday with cousins in New York arrive. I am sure there will be some amazing fabric stores in New York! With the help of my relatives, I visit a wonderful fabric warehouse, rather like the old Job’s Warehouse in Collins Street, Melbourne, where I purchase some black and white shot silk, along with a ‘gold lame’ like metallic fabric.
Returning to Kamloops, I become absorbed in working on my square in the evenings until it’s time to post it, together with unused gold fabric, to the group in Daylesford.
Photographs of the completed ‘Imagine’ banner with ‘my M’ begin to appear in my letterbox –the unused gold lame fabric I’d sent also appears in an ‘E’ featuring music bars and notes.
For over two decades, ‘my M’ will at times be selected for use in a ‘social cause’ banner, as will the ‘E’ featuring the gold lame fabric from New York.
Forty years later, the letters which make up the Daylesford Embroidered Banner Project are carefully stored and thoughtfully curated by the Daylesford Historical Society. I find a numbered photograph of ‘my M’ in an album of all letters when I visit the Historical Society– it is clearly in good hands.
How does all of this relate to my idea ‘No One Left in Limbo’, you may well ask! Well, I have a vision of creating a banner made up of same sized embroidered squares –
“ N O O N E L E F T I N L I M B O ! “