My Adventures with the Orient Express
From childhood on, train rides were positive experiences for me. So, you won’t be surprised that I participated in the fictitious, artistic train ride of the Orient Express, organized by members of the Studio Art Quilt Association (SAQA) Europe and Middle East.
43 artists created panels, each measuring 31” x 10” or 80cm x 25cm. By looking at all of them you see an astonishing diversity of talent, methods, materials and artistic visions of the artists in this region.
In 2022, the train stopped in April in the Netherlands, in May at Karlsruhe, Germany, in June at the BIAT in France, and it will stop August 20-21 at Grit’s Life & Friends Quiltfest in Suderburg, Germany. The schedule for 2023 is open.
(My YouTube video is based on exhibition photos of the Nadelwelt.)
1 My Personal train begins with the “Locomotive of the Dream Train”
This locomotive is like a child’s drawing emphasizing the dreams, fairytales, and poetry that accompany the Orient Express.
Translating Rainer Maria Rilke:
“The years pass … But it’s like a train:
WE pass before all and the years remain
Like landscape behind the glass panes of this journey,
Which the sun cleared or the frost veiled.
How what happens finds its position inspire:
One became meadow, one became tree, one went to help heaven …
Butterfly and flower are here, none lies: …
Transformation is not a lie.”
Techniques: The panel is painted with acrylics and oil paintstik on off-white silk, then stitched by hand and machine.
2 Germany, B-House
This panel was inspired by the house in which I was born, as to say, where the train ride of my life began.
The inscription reads: “Mit Gottes Hilfe und Vertraun haben wir dieses Haus lassen baun. Gott sei gebenedeit in alle Ewigkeit. Jürgen Ahrens und Anne-Marie Schäffersen-Sreau. Anno 1710”
Translated: “With help and trust in God have we built this house. God be praised in all eternity. - then the names and the year 1710.”
In all my Orient Express panels, I try to express the fairytale aspect of this train. Reading a haiku by the poet John Belbas inspired the dissolving rainbow drops - used with his permission:
“A rainbow dissolves slowly, falling into the chimney of red brick.”
Techniques: The panel is first sketched with Inktense pencils on off-white silk, then overpainted with acrylics, stitched by hand and machine. The lettering above the door is in ink. The French Knots of the dissolving rainbow and the horizontal trapunto of the painted wooden beams add 3D to this silk painting.
3 Italy, Rome
This panel celebrates Rome, Italy, and was inspired by a recent visit there. We stayed near the Janus Arch, looking towards the Tiber, you see big umbrella pines and some Italian cypresses.
Techniques: As with others in this series, the image is an original design, directly painted with acrylics on off-white silk, then stitched by hand and machine.
4 Re-use NO Trash
“Re-use NO Trash” pays homage to all those who do it: who reuse, who don’t simply throw textiles or leftover fiber into the trash. I’d like to celebrate them with this joyful piece that includes chocolate wrappers.
While I stitch, I don’t throw short pieces of yarn away. Normally, I temporarily leave them just pulled through until I’m completely done. In this case, as a reminder to celebrate RE-USE, I left them at the bottom.
Another aspect of caring for our environment is that trains are much more environmentally friendly than most cars (as per internet research).
This blog has a post from Jan 3, 2022 “Creating a Panel for the Orient Express” which describes in detail how the panel was created.
5 Turkey, Iznik Tiles
The Iznik ceramic industry was established in the 14th century in today’s Turkey. Important color innovations were sage green (1530) and red (1550) that lead to novel polychrome floral decorations. The Iznik tiles decorate mosques and palaces which you can visit in Istanbul. One of my favorites is the Rustem Pasha mosque, built before 1561.
While visiting it on our honeymoon, I sketched many details which are combined here in my own design. This textile painting “Iznik Tiles” pays homage to artists 500 years ago from a different culture than my own.
Techniques: The panel is drawn with acid-free pigment ink pens on off-white silk. The machine-stitching creates the impassion of tiles, while the hand-stitching creates more texture and highlights.
Thanks for reading this post.
Some last notes:
Maryte Collard created the catalog for this exhibition, together with Elizabeth and Stuart Byrom. It can be purchased from Blurb.
If you want to be a Studio Insider, please use this link to sign up or the Sign-in button on the top of my webpage www.MariaBillings.com, right under my phone number.