- Place of Use Continent - North America, Country - Canada
- Category Communication artifacts
- Sub-category Art
- Department Art and Memorials
- Museum CWM
- Earliest 2004/01/01
- Latest 2004/12/31
- Inscription (verso): The women of Polymer 2004 by Johnnene Maddison, London, Ontario hand-painted fabric, photo transfers, machine quilted, 110 x 77 cm In 1941, Canadian Prime Minister Mackenzie King, U.S. President, Franklin Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill met in Washington D.C. to discuss the problem of the Japanese control of all rubber - production island is the South Pacific. A decision was taken by the U.S. and Canada to invest 800 million dollars on a program to provide the rubber requirements of the Allies with a chemical substitute for rubber. The Crown Corporation know as Polymer, now called Polysar, was created in 1942 in Sarnia Ontario. Because of a shortage of male workers, high school girls were trained at the University of Western Ontario and other schools to work at Polymer. The young girls were paid about $50.00 per week while in training. After graduation, they took a test to determine which lab they would work in. The labs ran 24 hours a day and the girls worked in shifts. Frances Whitnell and Norma Ayscough worked in the gas lab. They took out gas samples under pressure, called "little bombs", and tested them for accuracy. Johnny Bald was a great fried of all the girls and used to cook hamburgers for them on the Bunsen burner. If it had not been for the invention and manufacturing of rubber substitutes at Polymer and the study and work of these young Canadian females, the Allied forces would have come to a standstill. Where is it written in our history books that the outcome of the war possibly depended on a small group of high school girls?
- Medium mixed media
- Support fibre
- Materials Not applicable
- Person / Institution Associated institution, PolymerSubject, Whitnell, FrancesSubject, Ayscough, Norma
- Measurements Height 109.3 cm, Width 76.8 cm
- Related activity War work
- Caption Stitches in Time
“It is the intrinsically feminine task of mending and patching that enters my work today.” Johnnene Maddison
Through quilts, contemporary artist Johnnene Maddison interprets the unique ways in which Canadian women balanced work, family, and leisure in their wartime lives.
Johnnene Maddison's mother was one of millions of North American women, more than one million of whom were Canadian, who worked in a factory during the Second World War. Inspired by her mother's wartime experience, she searched for other women workers. Maddison found 37, each with a distinct story, but all with one thing in common: the need to balance work with family, motherhood, and leisure.
For Johnnene Maddison, quilts best express the texture of women's wartime experiences. Recycled fabrics recall women's thrift and ingenuity. The technique of photo-transfer, capturing women's memorabilia, makes each quilt a testament to personal experience. Patched and pieced together, the quilts evoke women's resourcefulness in holding together the home front while also supplying the needs of the military.
- Caption The Women of Polymer
“This quilt celebrates the laboratory technicians employed by Polymer Corporation, established in 1942 to produce synthetic rubber. High school graduates, the young women attended special training programs. Upon graduation, they worked in labs that ran 24 hours a day. Remembering Polymer's gas lab, Norma Ayscough said, ‘the men broke a lot of test tubes. The women could handle them better.'”