Wilma Serrao shows a quilt she made. John Varughese/Gulf Today
Mariecar Jara-Puyod, Senior Reporter
Newly-wed Wilma Serrao in 1990 arrived in the UAE with her husband and with a list of art hobbies she had grown up with in Bangalore, gravitated to the Al Washia in Dubai.
“Al Washia still exists,” she volunteered recently from her home somewhere in the emirate.
“I do not know but somehow I got hooked into it.”
The “it” is Serrao’s passion for quilting—the centuries-old sewing of three layers of fabrics into one that has produced gazillions of breathtaking painting-like artworks and inter-generational heirlooms generally home-crafted by women of various color, race and socio-economic status.
Quilting, done by hand or machine has been historically traced in Egypt, Mongolia, the US, Europe and the Sub-Continent.
“I have a great-grandaunt who did the Kantha (the quilting of scraps or pieces of worn-out cloth with old sari threads).”
Today and three decades after she first dropped by at the arts and crafts shop, Serrao is among the longest-staying expat quilters in the UAE.
Thanks to the shopkeeper who introduced her to the women quilters in Dubai, one of whom was South African Marianne Shelton.
Technically, Serrao has been quilting every day since 21 years back at home—even while on flight—and wherever family sojourns.
Looking back, more than the simple pleasure of that “me time” through this interest in addition to her other hobbies of cross stitching, pot painting, and gardening, Serrao admitted that quilting has given her more.
The “more” are the realizations the mother of two has had even as she looks forward to leaving a legacy with the numerous quilts of various shape, size and theme she has gifted to family and friends across the globe.
“Quilting is laborious. It is an expensive hobby. You meet a lot of people,” Serrao intermittently enumerated.
What then have been the learnings?
That mankind is inter-connected and with whom one cannot live without. That condescension has no place in this world and man must respect one another since each has his own role and worth. That resources are finite and one can be creative and innovative so that nothing is wasted.
Serrao wished that more would be hooked into the art quilting and the lessons it artistically offers.
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