Elizabeth Tilley

Elizabeth Tilley

This show entitled “Bellow, Girl. Blossom” hits on recent themes in my work.

I’ve struggled with finding my voice, and being heard once I found it. One piece of ceramic sculpture in the show came out of the kiln with the top of the head and the mouth blown off. I had to salvage them and glue them back on, though I had an offer to buy it the way it was. I couldn’t bear losing my voice symbolically.

This pretty much sums up a lot about me and my art!

A late addition to the ideas I had for this show are the dollhouses. “A Doll’s House” by Henrik Ibsen inspired these, as I realize that my life has been very much defined, and symbolized by the houses I’ve lived in. I bought my first house with all my own savings for the downpayment when I was 18. I shared this with my partner, but when we married HE chose the next house. I didn’t have a VOICE in the decisions made in that life. I hated that house, yet I worked tirelessly on making a fantastical garden all around it so I could leave it every day without actually leaving it. I had babies to lose myself in, and I nurtured them with all my creativity. It was at that time I started making quilts as gifts from patterns. It was all so conventional, and so were the neighbors. It didn’t fit me at heart, but I played the role as best I could.

I divorced, and the nightmare went from bad to worse, as a cancer cluster was identified in a half mile radius all around the house, and I too grew a cancer over my heart in my left breast. I eventually managed to sell the house, and the new owners ripped out the “secret” garden and stripped it back to its suburban minimalist roots.

Everything I’d built around me to survive was demolished in one swoop. The kids went off into the world, to China and Peru. I lost my mother and my dog to old age and my hair to cancer. Turning to art saved my life. Through it, I could Bellow! about the pain I’d suffered, and once I cleared myself of that, I could Blossom! now that I had lived through the worst, and was free of my past. That’s when I truly began to live. Now I make original quilts of my own design, and I paint portraits of strong women and girls who I hope will blossom naturally, as they should.