Work by Jean Mellin :: Poem by Gerda Stevenson

textile art

Queen o the Bean

Mary Fleming, 1542 – 1581, Scotland; relative, childhood companion and lady-in-waiting to Mary Queen of Scots; on Uphaly Nicht – the Feast of Epiphany – in 1563, Mary Fleming was the lucky one to get the piece of traditional King Cake (Black Bun) with the bean concealed in it, and so was `Queen of the Bean’ for the night.

From Quines by Gerda Stevenson

Artist’s statement

This poem immediately struck me by its descriptive nature from the start! I could imagine the scene straight away. Girls sharing a bed so that an ‘intruder’ could not get near one of them! They were eating, giggling and playing a game with the cake – to see who would get the piece of cake with the prized bean.

The description of the luxurious silks, jewels and general exuberance attracted me – this is what my workroom looks like when I work on a piece of textile art. A ‘stramash’ of silver silks, scattered precious stones and general dressing up amidst mayhem is hopefully reflected in my abstract piece of work.

Dark dashes of sumptuous black bun intertwined with silver silk, overlayed with dark grey netting to portray the last verse of the poem and mixed with the red stitched names of murdered men. The shapes of the fabrics portray the flames of the phoenix rising and the scattered jewels mingle with the Queens cyphers.

It was a joy of a poem to illustrate with textiles!