Heather Cromwell grew up watching her mother and grandmother make quilts in the family kitchen that were used by family members as blankets or given away to others as presents. She is also an amateur painter and photographer.
Though she did not practice this craft in her youth, Cromwell took up quiltmaking in her thirties and began by making pattern quilts she learned from her mother. In 2004, Cromwell joined Northumberland Quilters Guild- one of the largest quilt guilds in the province and attended specialized guild workshops to develop her skill in the new craft.
She also began entering the guild’s annual members showcase exhibition held each August at the Decoste Centre in Pictou. In 2007, Cromwell joined forces with several African Nova Scotian women in New Glasgow to form the Vale Quiltmakers Association- a group interested in learning about Africentric North American quiltmaking traditions as well as promoting the craft among Pictou County’s African Nova Scotian community.
Among the association’s activities was hosting Mary Lee Bendolph and Louisiana Petway, two members of the famed Gee’s Bend Quiltmakers of Alabama during their Nova Scotia provincial tour in 2007. In 2009, Cromwell joined the Secret Codes Quilt Project, an exhibition project created by Halifax artist, curator David Woods and the Black Artists Network.
Participants made quilts from drawings created by Woods during his travels to 30 African Nova Scotian communities across the. Woods’ drawings captured community histories and life stories of women and locals and employed quilt aesthetics in their design. The Dance- Cromwell’s first Secret Codes quilt was created in 2010 and was well received. Since that time she has continued to create more quilts for the Secret Codes exhibition which has been touring steadily since 2011, as well as making traditional pattern quilts.
Quilting for me is being creative; whether it is making a quilt from a pattern or making a quilt from a sketch made by artist David Woods. I really enjoy the challenge of making what David sketches on small 5” x 6” pieces of paper to fabric the size of a double quilt. I don’t feel that I am a quilt artist but I do get much pleasure from people enjoying my work.
New Glasgow, NS