SAQA Benefit Auction Stories—Claire Passmore

We always love hearing about how our members are inspired to create their piece for our annual Benefit Auction. SAQA member Claire Passmore has used her auction quilts from the past three years to create a moving series about a personal experience. 

If your SAQA Benefit Auction Quilt has a good story, please send it to social@saqa.com.

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Claire’s Story

My first SAQA Benefit quilt was entitled ‘innocence’ and was based on a fleeting meeting with a very small boy named Spinach (I double checked to make sure I had it right, and I did) who was about 4 years old.  I met him and his mum when I liven in CapeTown, South Africa. I was visiting the location where he lived – a township called Langa and his mum was busy at work, cooking sheep heads (yes, sheep heads, known locally as Smileys) on a fire at the side of the road; they are the equivalent of street food in the township.


He was sat near her feet, playing with a stone and a bent nail, busy banging it into the hard bare ground. It sounds tragic, and in so many ways it was, yet he was so happy with his stone and his nail, it really made me dwell on what happiness really is. He was so innocent and so completely happy at that moment.

Sadly, I never met Spinach again – his mum moved him away to a more rural part of South Africa where it was safer for him to live – I can’t imagine how hard that must have been for her. But that short meeting with him had a profound effect on me. I cannot forget him and the image of him with his stone and nail are always on my mind.

For that reason alone, I decided to make my small quilt for the SAQA Benefit auction about him. The first was entitled ‘innocence’ – and captures my memory of him as the 4 year old.

Each year since, I have made another new quilt, imagining how he may have changed as he has grown. My second quilt was called ‘conscience’ – my conscience – as I so wish I had somehow done more to help him. Although I help a lot of other people in South Africa, I still wish I had somehow been able to do something for him.

This year’s quilt is called ‘adolescence’ – Spinach is old enough to be in high school now, and I really hope he is doing well – wherever he is.

Claire’s piece is part of Section 2 of the SAQA Benefit Auction Quilts. Her piece, along with many other wonderful quilts, is available for bidding right now.

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About Claire

Claire is strongly influenced by matters of social conscience and this often influences the subjects she chooses for her quilts.  She exhibits widely in the UK and overseas and is a member of ‘Contemporary Quilters West’ and the international group ’12 by the Dozen’. In 2017 Claire became a Juried Artist member of SAQA. You can learn more about Claire and her work by visiting her website 

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