Artwork that became an inspiration during the coronavirus pandemic is on display at Museum

March 14, 2022

Antje Rook

A Virus a Day is an exhibition of textile art by Antje Rook which tells a personal story of living with the Covid-19 pandemic. The exhibition opens on 14 March in the Alice Ellen Cooper Dean Community Space at the Museum and is free to enter.

Antje Rook created the A Virus a Day quilt in response to Covid-19. The Portland artist embroidered one Virus for every day of the first 2020 UK lockdown while she was isolating with her partner, who is clinically vulnerable. Intrigued by the magnified images of the colourful Virus everywhere she created them in different shapes and textures. She also created embroidered and appliqued images including Lockdown and Notes on a Pandemic expressing her sadness at not being able to hug her family, how she often felt trapped and her anger at people not following the rules to protect others.

What started as something to give her days meaning and structure became an inspirational project which influenced many people in a positive way. After Antje lost a friend to Covid-19, she added names to her quilt to remember people who did not survive. This turned into a community fundraising project for the NHS with donations in return for a framed, quilted Virus. The remaining squares were sewn into her A Virus a Day quilt which Antje donated to Dorset Museum as part of its Covid-19 collecting campaign.

One of Antje’s deepest beliefs is that being creative and making beautiful things is important for the soul. She wants to make people happy and brought great comfort to many people through the quilt project.

This exhibition also highlights some powerful and moving responses from people who donated to her project or contributed to her creative community challenge on Instagram.

Messages from some of Antje’s Instagram followers and people who donated to her fundraising project: “I had been following Antje’s work on Instagram when she started the Virus series. I thought they were a beautiful way to depict a terrifying virus. They are on my bedroom wall and symbolise a time when we had no idea what havoc the virus would wreak but it was also a special time of family closeness. I did wonder if I would feel odd about having them on my wall in the future but I think they are here to stay. I subsequently became very involved in the Bridport vaccination clinics which became a huge part of my life and led to a change in career direction.”

“Your memorial quilt means much more than I can express. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

“The Virus for my mum is perfect as it looks like the sun they all do but her colours are more like the sun). Savita means the sun in Hindi so it is very apt. She was also light of my life in every sense.”

Elizabeth Selby, Interim Director of Dorset Museum, says: “We are delighted to display Antje’s artwork at the Museum which tells a deeply moving story of the artist’s experiences during the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as representing stories and the responses from the wider community. Antje’s quilt is one of a number of objects that were donated to the Museum as part of our Covid-19 collecting campaign. These objects will help to tell the story of the pandemic for generations to come.”

Antje Rook says: “I’m very happy that my project has touched so many people. It was such a hard time for all of us and if my work has just made one person feel better, I’m very grateful. Huge thanks to Dorset Museum for giving me the opportunity to show my work to even more people.”

The exhibition runs from 14 March to 12 June 2022.

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