Alicia Merrett – Habitats: Species (Earth Stories project)

Alicia Merrett


HABITATS : SPECIES – by Alicia Merrett


In 2013, SAQA (Studio Art Quilts Associates), put out a Call for Entries for a project titled Earth Stories. Selection of artists was to be made on the basis of a portfolio of past work, and a project proposal to make an artwork reflecting a positive earth story. The work, to be produced within a year of acceptance, should fill a space of 72” by 72” square, either in one piece, or with several pieces.

I was fortunate to be one of the 25 international quilt artists selected. As I live almost next door to the Somerset Levels, within which the Avalon Marshes are a wetland home to a wide variety of habitats and plant and animal species, many of which are in danger of extinction, I chose to do my project within Shapwick Heath National Nature Reserve, to which I had links and contacts. The Reserve Manager very kindly provided me with suitable maps, and other people working there supplied a lot of information about the local species and habitats. Nature reserves in the area have been set up to provide suitable habitats that encourage biological diversity, and to protect the endangered species.

National Nature Reserves also do very important work in the education of the general public, and particularly of young people, about the need to protect our environment. The Reserves rely on a large number of committed and hard-working volunteers to carry out this very important work.

The quilt consists of two different sections: the larger, lower section, has a map of the Shapwick Heath National Nature Reserve, where the different colours indicate the different habitats. The reserve map is located within its countryside area, with the relevant village, buildings and roads in it.

The smaller, upper section, has words reflecting the names of the different habitats and the endangered species living in them, placed near each other appropriately. The colours used for each of names of the habitats are the ones used in the map. The colours of the words used for the species reflect the colours of the particular plant, flower, insect, animal, bird, etc.
It is made with a fused collage technique, and machine quilted.

The exhibition has now opened at the Michigan State University Museum and Art Gallery, USA. A full catalogue is available from the online store of