Aching absence, hugs missed in the pandemic

Quilt Details

Quiltmaker Gwen Edwards

Location Keynsham, UK

Date October, 2020

Collection of Gwen Edwards

Detail images:

From the moment we are born, hugs are a crucial part of all of our lives. Embraces calm us when we’re upset and comfort us in pain, and they help us connect and celebrate in joyful times. From weddings and funerals to sports, hugs are ever-present. So what happens when we can’t hug?  

We’ve shared countless hugs in our lives. But when the Covid-19 pandemic began, we shared a new experience—the absence of hugs. Social distancing was a new term to most people, which was and continues to be used to describe the six feet of distance we should keep from other people to avoid getting sick. 

Science sings the praises of hugs for our health. According to the Cleveland Clinic, hugs can decrease stress hormones, blood pressure, and heart rate. Perhaps most importantly, hugs between family, friends, and pets can release oxytocin. Sometimes referred to as the “love hormone,” oxytocin promotes bonding between newborns and parents, and remains an important stress-relieving and bonding hormone throughout life. 

During the pandemic, industrious people who missed hugs sought out any way possible to touch those they cared for, including building hug tents and hug screens using plastic sheeting. Quilter Gwen Edwards took a unique approach, quilting arms onto her quilt to create a tangible memory of a physical act. 

Quilts have long been used as comfort objects, and while “Aching Absence” is about the longing for hugs, it also radiates the warmth quilters have infused in their quilts for generations. As A.A. Milne wrote for his iconic Winnie the Pooh character, “A hug is always the right size.”

Additional Quilt Information:

Materials Recycled fabrics, including roman blinds lining, vintage tablecloth, thermal curtain lining as batting, second-hand perle cotton and crochet yarn.

Technique Appliqued, embroidered, and hand quilted

Dimensions 54 x 36 inches

Further Resources 

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