Friday, December 13, 2013

Day 11: Christmas in Scandinavia

Every year on December 13, Santa Lucia is celebrated in Scandinavia.The Lucia tradition can be traced back to St Lucia of Syracuse, a martyr who died for her faith in 304. The festival is also a symbol of the coming return of the sun and the lengthening of days. Danish artist Bodil Gardner, who is known the world over for her art quilts, created this delightful piece called Santa Lucia.  It was a showstopper in the "Traditions" exhibit at the 2013 Houston International Quilt Festival.

Santa Lucia, 51 x 62", by Bodil Gardner (Denmark)

On Saint Lucia day in Sweden, lights are turned off and girls dressed in white, carrying candles and singing the Lucia song, are led in procession by the Lucia bride with candles in her hair. Bodil Gardner has incorporated the lyrics of the Lucia song in her quilt. We were captivated by the figures in this quilt: their large and expressive eyes, rosy cheeks, and the textures of their hair.  It is her use of a flat perspective that makes us feel as if we are seeing every aspect of their faces; although we are viewing them from the side, you can see that their mouths are open in song.

close up, Santa Lucia by Bodil Gardner (Denmark)

Bodil Gardner has been making patchwork pictures since the early 1980's.  She works with second-hand fabrics, mostly cottons,using applique techniques.  The dog in this quilt was created with a brocade-like print, and the Lucia dresses were created with a textured lace fabric that may have been a dress or tablecloth in a former life.

On her website, Bodil says: "Material is bought at flea markets or it arrives as gifts. Faded, well-used cottons are fascinating and nice to work with." "My hope is that by exhibiting I can give other women courage to exploit their own creativity. Most of them have a sewing machine and some remnants of material - no need to invest in expensive gear."

Image credits:  Photos were taken by Quilt Inspiration at the 2013 Houston International Quilt Festival.  For more information on Bodil Gardner's work, including techniques and a gallery of quilts, please visit her website at Bodil's Patchwork Pictures.


  1. I knew of St. Lucy, but did not know of her song. What a wonderful rendition.

  2. This is fantastic on St. Lucy feast day!


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