Thursday 6 April 2023

Visit to Bath Abbey and quilts

In March, when John and I were away in Somerset for his birthday, as part of our trip we decided to visit Bath Abbey. We've visited Bath a lot of times as Lucy was at university there and her graduation ceremony was held in the Abbey, but the one thing we had never done was to look round the inside of the Abbey. This was our chance and it coincided with an exhibition of quilts on the theme of the creation story. When we arrived at the Abbey we found there was an orchestra and choir practicing for a performance that evening so the whole place was filled with music. The sun was shining and this meant the Abbey was also filled with light. A perfect setting to enjoy the quilts created by Jacqui Parkinson.

Bath Abbey provides a moment of quiet in a vibrant city which welcomes students to two universities, visitors to the Roman baths and Jane Austen fans eager to see where she once lived. The Abbey church of St Peter and St Paul, which is commonly known as Bath Abbey is a parish church and a former Benedictine monastery. The Abbey was founded in the 7th century and has since been rebuilt and reorganised. In 1539 the Benedictine community was dissolved during the dissolution of the monasteries. At one time the Abbey was the seat of the Diocese of Bath and Wells but later that was moved to Wells Cathedral. 

I was eager to see the panels that were created for the Threads through Creation exhibition. The panels are the work of one woman, Jacqui Parkinson. She used to teach drama and later ran an arts centre. By chance she took a textile workshop which lead to a degree in Embroidered Textiles and she became a textile artist. She lives in Devon and has the use of a large studio which provides the space to create large panels. It was difficult to get a good photo of the whole of some panels due to the space. In the end I took several photos of parts of the panels where a complete picture wasn't possible.

Jacqui creates the panels using old bed sheets as a base, which are then quilted. She uses fabric dyes to create a background which will then be covered by the textiles but some of the background will be visible in the final piece. The background helps with location of the pieces as they are developed. She makes lots of sketches and makes a full sized version in paper once the design is complete before starting work on the textiles. For the textile work Jacqui only uses fine silks and she likes the fact that the silks fray which adds to the rich textures on the completed panels. There is also leathers and gold leaf in the panels.

Panel 1 is titled In the beginning. Jacqui wrote that she spent weeks wondering how to convey God as the three, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. She decided to use a spiral to represent God, giving the spiral three strands and including hidden patterns in the silks. Gold leaf curls were added to signify the energy of the creation.

Panel 2 tells the story of Day 1 when light and dark were created. The triangles of dark and light are covered in spirals. Jacqui added the seven colours of the rainbow to the top and bottom panel because white light can be broken down into all the colours of the rainbow as it passes through a prism

Panel 3 represents Day 2 -water. This panel shows water in many forms. It includes dark skies, raindrops, rivers waterfalls, churning seas and snowflakes. In this panel Jacqui introduced square boxes into the design and she appliqued snowflakes, enjoying making them all different. I love the swirling water.

Panel 4  depicts Day 3, a lush green earth. I took several photos of this panel as there was so much to see and I couldn't get the whole panel in one go as the space was rather limited. In the panel there is a garden full of vegetables and a full sea. Around the edge there is a border of seeds. There is also a band of stars and phases of the moon. there is so much work in all those vegetables.

Panel 5 depicts Day 4 the separation of day and night. For this panel a star chart has been created. The centre of the panel is a spiral, signifying God and the spiral encompasses Polaris, the North Star which travellers and sailors traditionally used to navigate

Panel 6 depicting Day 5, filling the sky and waters with multitudes of fish and birds. This panel was so bright and vibrant. I spent a lot of time looking at the panel and there was lots to enjoy.

I still have 6 panels to show you. I will show you the rest soon. The exhibition is touring the UK and I will be visiting again. Next time I go and see it at one of the larger cathedrals and hopefully I will be able to get better photos.

Take care



  1. Thanks for sharing those amazing quilts, Lyndsey!

  2. Wow. Fabulous work on these. What an interesting exhibit! Thanks for sharing. Barbara @ Cat Patches

  3. Thanks for providing such a great resource for learning