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The Romance of the Envelope

A quilt inspired by Dear Granny Smith

Symbolic

The Romance of the Envelope

A quilt made to highlight the plight of the Royal Mail was exhibited at the Festival of Quilts held at the NEC in Birmingham between the 19th and the 22nd of August 2010.

The quilt is called The Romance of the Envelope and is made by Charlotte Soares of London.

It was inspired by Dear Granny Smith and incorporates parts of the book in its design.

The entry in the catalogue describes it as follows:

Inspiration, Roy Mayall’s ‘Dear Granny Smith’ educating me about threat of private sorting firms taking lucrative business from Royal Mail.

Mixed Media, pillar-box red felt, polywadding, torn sacking organza, metallic and invisible thread loosely stitched by hand and machine.”

The quilt is meant as a symbolic representation of the current state of the Royal Mail. This is how Charlotte describes it:

“The red is felt. On top of that is sacking. On top of that is a collage of envelopes which I did send through the mail, then covered over my name and address, stamps sewn together to make a textile, parts of Dear Granny Smith, and old postcards – some secured under netting, some under perspex. This all represents the post office at its best, working efficiently and meaning a lot to the public, delivering messages and Valentines and greetings cards to nearest and dearest. Then you get the business mail represented by the windows from bill envelopes and some franked Royal Mail.”

After this the quilt appears to fall apart:

“The sacking begins to tear. There are red elastic bands, every one picked up from the pavements where they were dropped by our local postmen. Under the tear there are the new franchises with their different symbols, UK MailTNT etc, and a selection of the companies using them. These are left hanging loose, they do not make the company secure, they make it fragile. Near the bottom are the pages from Dear Granny Smith which explain about this new development. There is a photo printed onto organza of a postman struggling to push his wagon up over a footbridge which I thought was quite symbolic. I asked permission from Royal Mail Twickenham to include this anonymous postman. The water is rising at his feet, and the blue watery organza represents the threat to the institution of overloading the postman and the companies who do not contribute to the profits of Royal Mail but demand deliveries by their postmen. A few stamps are drowning in this corner. The bottom is black edged, in memoriam, the rubber bands are only done up with safety pins, the whole thing might unravel. The patriotic braid down the sides is little Union flags with hearts in the centre and there is a large Union Flag at the top left of the quilt. Not all the franchises are British but the Postal service was a British invention. Pillar boxes and post vans are icons of Britain.”

On the front is printed on a panel:

The Romance of the Envelope.

Red pillar boxes, Postmen, mail through the door, like fish and chips, are part of our way of life. But just as fish and chips is threatened by the pizza industry, so sorting franchises threaten the extinction of a British invented institution we take for granted. Did you even know UK Mail etc are not part of Royal Mail? It’s CRAZY. Use it or Lose it!

Message

Dear Granny Smith

On the back is printed on a label:

Befriend contentment, harbour no disappointment.

Stitch with integrity. Know when to stop.

Stephen Seifert, The Tao of Quilting.

“This quilt grew and grew from a few stamps sewn together to a wall hanging with a story without an ending,” she says. “It’s not the world’s best sewn quilt. It’s very rough and ready but as my daughter said, sewn with passion. It’s quite delicate and I hope it survives its journey to and from Birmingham. I am thinking of donating it afterwards to the new postal museum in Swindon.

“Old Crazy Quilts were haphazard patches,” she adds, talking about the history of quilt making. “Usually they were in rich fabrics, added on top of each other and embroidered and embellished with stitchery and beads. I have hinted at this tradition with a spectacular glittery blue thread, braid and a few ornamental stitches. On the whole though I stitched randomly. The stitching isn’t as important as the message.”

Let’s hope the message gets through.

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