Joan Brailsford – Country – Architecture
Inspiration: the wooden stave churches of Norway and their decoration
Stave churches are made of wood and constructed with poles (the Norwegian word for pole is ‘staver’) and are considered an important example of medieval architecture. Once there were more than 1,000 in Norway but now only 28 remain. In Norway the tradition of using wood in artwork as well as construction is combined in these unique buildings and the decoration is a mix of both Christian and Viking symbolism. The oldest stave church at Urnes is richly decorated, was built around 1130 and is on the UNESCO World heritage list.
I love the way that these wooden buildings seem to have been put together in a haphazard fashion, so that they look almost like fairytale castles. Rather than depicting a whole building I wanted to use the features of the construction and the decorations within the building as my design. I love the way that the roof tiles look like the scales and the decoration at the end of the roof is a stylised dragon, and of course, I love the intrictae carvings on the columns within the buildings.
I used a hand dyed polycotton as a base and added columns of wax-resist dyed calicomto represent the decorated columns. I cut the animalistic designs from a batik and used raw-edged applique to attach it. I then used a kantha-type hand quilting all around the animal design to make it stand out as if it has been carved. I cut a darker batik into lines of overlapping ‘scales’ of two roof sections, and the same fabric for the ‘dragon’. I hand-stitched these again as raw-edge applique. I added more columns, rafter and roof shapes with machine quilting. Finally the quilt is bound with the darker wood colour.