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Art Saves • by Alison Gibbs

Art has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.

Patchwork Quilts & Art Classes
As a child I would watch my grandmother make patchwork quilts and crocheted “granny square” blankets. Her patchwork quilts were made from leftover scraps from sewing clothes and clothes that could no longer be mended or handed down to any other family member, etc. I would sit and help her baste/tack the fabric to her hexagonal newspaper templates. Then the hexagons would be hand sewn together to make a quilt. Once the quilt was the size she wanted we would pull out the tacking and then the newspaper template. I loved looking at the quilts and remembering which pieces of fabric came from my clothes.

My own mother was always sewing and knitting our clothes. She enjoyed making tapestries and paperbark pictures that were made from various colours of bark from the Paperbark tree. When she was in her forties she could finally afford to take oil painting classes. This was something that she adored — she had such an eye for detail.

At school I was always involved in music and art. I played the guitar, violin, and cello. I was also into singing and was a soloist for our choir. I enjoyed all of the art classes at school and loved the sewing and knitting classes. I still have an embroidery I did at high school. I copied the pattern from a swap card.

Devastated into Art
I am 55 now and was only in my early thirties when I lost my mother. I was totally devastated by her passing. It was then that I decided to get back into art. I was already going to a weekly night art and craft group where we worked on various things — painting, sewing (making soft toys), and embroidery, but I needed more to occupy my mind. My four children were all at school and days were long and sad, so I started some daytime folk art classes. It was a wonderful way to help lose myself in art instead of despair. This new love of art then set me on my creative journey making cushions, mosaics, folk art, and mixed-media art.

Combining Family & Art
Now with the daytime babysitting I do of my grandchildren, and with my husband working from home, I am once more getting lost and not having the time to create art. I had that feeling of not being me — I was just the wife, mother, and grandmother – and I wondered, “Where was the ‘real me’?” I needed to work out what I could do that was easy to pack away when family was around. Three of my four children live within a 10-minute walk from home, and the 4th only 20 minutes in the car. This means I never know when someone will come through my door, and mostly I do love it that way.

So to make life simpler I have decided to focus on creating with fabric, embroidery threads, and other embellishments. I can then quite easily pack it away when I hear the pitter-patter of little and not-so-little feet coming through my door.

Art Saves Mothers
Being able to create some form of art in my busy days of caring for family helps keep me sane. I think all mothers put themselves last and need to make sure that they do something for themselves. Be it creating art, going out with friends, reading a book or magazine just make sure to have some “me time.”

For me ART SAVES my mind and makes my heart sing.

To learn more about Alison Gibbs, visit and


Wonderful Alison! I am so glad you found your way back to art! I lost my dad when I was 27 so I know how devastating it is!

Great Post Alison!
Fabulous you've adapted your art to suit your present lifestyle!
I over heard an Artist saying she'd finally retired....what?? can you just fully retire? Never for me anyway, yes slow down a bit would be good, but to fully retire, I can't imagine it.

Thanks for introducing me to this great Website


I loved learning about you and how you came back to art, Alison!
Your embroidery and fabric work is truly beautiful, it must be in the genes!

Just as we change throughout life, so does our creative desires. I think your story illustrates this perfectly Alison. I enjoyed learning more about your passion and look forward to following your next journey into fabric crafts.

So sorry about the loss of your dear mother. I'm sure she's with you everyday, looking over your shoulder and smiling at the beauty you create :-) and BOY do I KNOW what you mean about us moms putting ourselves last. I think it's time to move up in line :-)


I honestly enjoyed reading about your creative side & that of your Mum & Grandma. I started to make a quilt exactly like your Grandma used to make for my daughter years ago, do you know it is still sitting tucked away unfinished or maybe I threw it out in my last clean out, cannot remember, but your Grandma was one special Lady to finish her's, very time consuming. I never knew you did Folk Art, aomething I did for years & cringe now whenever I see something I painted, never perfect enough for me. Thanks for sharing with us.

lyn xxx

Hi Alison. this was such a beautiful post for many reasons. We have a lot in common, I see. I learnt how to sew and knit from my Grandma and my Aunt. I also feel the same about needing to have something 'just for me, and that is anything crafty. I love that you have decided to concentrate on something that is easily transportable and can be put down and picked up again without losing where you are up to. I also love that you said 'Art saves your mind and makes your heart sing!' I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for including a link to my blog. You are such a sweet, generous and incredibly kind lady and I am so glad to have met you through the wonderful world of blogging. I am so looking forward to seeing where your art takes you in the future:) Thanks for sharing your wonderful story here with us all.
Tina xx

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