With warmer weather hopefully on the approach, many of us are thinking about switching up downey duvets for lighter bedspreads. But if you’re in possession of a doughnut quilt (complete with rainbow sugar sprinkles) made by Canadian legal assistant and artist Tania Denyer, you’ll likely want to keep it on display all year round.
Denyer is the creative force behind ginger quilts, an outlet and platform for exhibiting her numerous talents: she’s not only a formidable quilter, but an illustrator, a home cook and baker, a painter, and she often dabbles in crochet. Oh, and she’s a mother of two and works as a legal assistant full time.
“I’m a legal assistant by day, and an artist at all other times,” she tells SBS. “Honestly, even at work I sneak in as much art as I can.”
Denyer discovered a love of quilting (and a degree of tenacity – quilting isn’t easy to nail!) at the age of 27. A co-worker at the time enrolled her into a class, but she quickly tired of making other people’s patterns. “When I gave myself permission to make my own, I never looked back,” she says.
“I believe anything can be a quilt… a ramen bowl, Japanese sweets, turkey platter, Christmas cake - see what I mean? Food is art too!”
Her food quilts are by-products of her two great loves coming together: food and art.
Denyer has a thing for Japanese confectionery, but a quick scroll through the ginger quilts Instagram account reveals not much is off limits. Her website confirms as much: “I believe anything can be a quilt… a ramen bowl, Japanese sweets, turkey platter, Christmas cake - see what I mean? Food is art too!”
As both a mother and a maker, Denyer considers food to be intrinsically linked to womanhood – and her quilts are an artistic expression of this connection.
“I believe everyone is creative. I see how women often create art in the presentation of food – while chefs (mostly male) are celebrated for their food presentation, what about the women who prepare and present food every day? What about the food they create? Food so often is art, something we consume without thinking.”
The themes of women, food and art will recur in Denyer’s future projects, she explains – but she’ll never leave quilts for too long, as they always tell a story. “I’m starting with a series of McCormick spice bottles, creating both paintings and quilt art,” she says. “I think of how so many women had spice racks, how they could get a glimpse from other worlds from there. I’m currently in research mode before I refine the idea, but I’d love to find a gallery who would be interested in showing this later down the line.”
“My daughter gets exasperated with how often I take pictures of food, but I just LOVE it,” she says. “From those pictures I explore, either in drawing them, or painting or making fabric art. I love the aesthetic of food, particularly Asian food. My Japan Sweets quilt really tapped into that.”