A diary quilt chronicling Norma Slabbert’s 60th year

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Year 60 Quilt is about the everyday and the daily practice of quilting and will be displayed at AQC where visitors will be able to examine all 11 metres of the fascinating work.

Norma Slabbert is a quilt maker and writer from Hamilton, New Zealand and the diary quilt chronicles her 60th year. She started the quilt on her 60th birthday and completed one quilted block every day for a year – without fail. It took another six months to join the 365 blocks and finish the 11 metre quilt which is roughly arranged by month.

The quilt features scenes from Norma’s daily life; her home and garden, state of mind, the things she cares about, and the things she can count on. The narrative blocks reflect the moments of surprise and perfection in daily life – when the ordinary becomes extraordinary.

The grid style, compositional isolation, and formal containment within the square give the ordinary images meaning – making them objects for contemplation rather than a realistic entry point.

Year 60 Quilt is personal and reflective and the images give voice to memories and experience. And while it pictures the present, it will perhaps, one day, renew memories and leave a trace of an existence.

About Norma Slabbert

Norma SlabbertNorma is a quilt maker and writer from Hamilton, New Zealand.

She grew up on a mission station in Lebowa and started doing fabric collage in the eighties, while working as a pre-school teacher. Her early fabric work was bright and playful – inspired by children’s art.

During a mid-career break, she backpacked through Europe to visit the major galleries and museums to study art. She researched quilts at British museums, libraries, and quilt shows, and the experience inspired a lifelong commitment to quilt making.

After returning from Europe, Norma’s passion for art led to a career change and a position as an art gallery curator. As curator, she initiated and curated a number of quilt exhibitions in the city gallery – which was groundbreaking at the time.

She returned to university in midlife, to fullfil a passion for writing. The Honours in Journalism had an impact on her own quilt making and after qualifying as a journalist, her work became darker, more political, and grounded in reality. Her quilts often reflect on world matters, the realities of daily life, and emotional truths. 

Norma and her family migrated to New Zealand during the
late nineties, which also influenced her quilt making. A recent highlight in her quilt journey was a visit to the Tokyo International Great Quilt Festival 2015, in Japan.

Now semi-retired, Norma spends her days on all things related to quilt making: doing the stitches, reading, researching, judging, exhibiting, and writing on the subject. She has published a number of books and still writes for New Zealand Quilter.

Norma was the 2012 recipient of the Aotearoa Quilters Scholarship Award, while she was working towards her second solo quilt exhibition, The Walled Garden. Her third solo quilt exhibition, While We Stitch, was held at ArtsPost Galleries, Hamilton, during September 2016. 

To see more of Norma’s work, visit https://nz.pinterest.com/NomSnz/