Quilting a life


I've had my head down for a week or so writing a chapter for a book.

After a few days of struggling with abstract wordiness, I began to make sense of the writing, mostly about vision, imagery and consulting practice, by using a story-line described through photographs and images (doh!!!).  At one stage, I printed the chapter out and arranged it on the floor, looking for a sense of narrative pace and flow in the shapes that I saw before me; a picture here, a call-out block there, changed font over there... It looked like I was assembling some kind of patchwork quilt on the office floor.

The experience took me back to a quilt-making experience with the current ADOC cohort.  We were experimenting with co-inquiry processes, participatively making sense of our experience of working together.  I'm not sure that my own 'output' could be taken seriously but the conversation and sense of community as we assembled the 'final' quilt was compelling. 

Quilting has a long history, born of necessity but increasingly becoming a more social process. For a look how quilting is used in the organisational arena, check out some of this work by Ann Rippin who has 'quilted' Body Shop International, Starbucks and Laura Ashley. 

What became clear in the ADOC quilting process was that a story was being selectively told and represented, parts held together or separated, some 'fitted' here, others there. It felt like an aesthetic as well as narrative process.

All of which... takes me back to how I was trying to tell my own story as I spread pictures and words out over the office floor...

Quilting a life (story) if you will..?  

Don't we all do that?

Steve MarshallComment