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Security Blanket: 57 Missiles
security blanket, missiles, quilt, quilting, quilting fabric, war, peace, conflict, feminine and masculine, covering, covers, perspective, male and female, life and death, power, comfort, quilt, fabric, war, peace, life, death, missiles, conflict
start quoteI work in textiles in large part because of my attraction to old quilts, particularly their history of use. The material and historical aspects of textile production are an important conceptual grounding for my work.end quote-- Barbara Todd

In this work, Security Blanket: 57 Missiles, Todd presents a quilt, which is seemingly ordinary in a dark-coloured decorated fabric. But when you give it a second glance, what confronts you is unnerving. She combines two unrelated topics and activities, stitching and war, peace and missiles. She challenges our conventional ways of thinking about quilts and conflict.

In the Security Blankets series, Barbara Todd uses the traditional female materials and processes of quilting and juxtaposes them with seemingly masculine fabrics, textures and imagery. By examining these extreme differences or opposing forces in her work, she suggests powerful political statements about; war and peace, male and female, life and death, business and home life; power and comfort.

Todd skilfully amalgamates the beautiful material and formal qualities of quilts with  imageryAn image is a picture, idea, or impression of a person, thing, or idea; or a mental picture of a person, thing, or idea. The word imagery refers to a group or body of related images. (  rooted in compelling social issues. Her masterful Security Blanket  quiltAnything that is quilted; esp., a quilted bed cover, or a skirt worn by women; any cover or garment made by putting wool, cotton, etc., between two cloths and stitching them together; also, any outer bed cover. (The Online Plain Text English Dictionary)   seriesA number of things or events standing or succeeding in order, and connected by a like relation; sequence; order; course; a succession of things; as, a continuous series of calamitous events. (The Online Plain Text English Dictionary)  depicted imagery of bombs, military aircraft and missiles. The intent was to force a double reading of "security" and, through this irony, to create a conflict between traditional notions of military security and domestic security. In recent years, she has used children's drawings and poetry to expand the idea of the security blanket and to explore the thresholds between waking and sleeping, the  concreteIn art criticism, concrete refers to things which are real, particular, tangible; as opposed to abstract. The more general use of the term refers to the concrete building material, which is extremely heavy and durable when set. First employed by the ancient Romans, it's made from a mixture of Portland cement, aggregate (typically sand and gravel), and water. Concrete is typically poured into a form; very rarely modeled or carved. Slabs should be between four and eight inches thick, depending on their function. A basement floor: 4 inches; home garage floor or porch: 4-6; sidewalk: 5-6: driveway: 6-8. Concrete is sold by cubic volume. Calculate need as: slab thickness in feet x slab width in feet x slab length in feet = cubic feet of concrete. 27 cubic feet = 1 cubic yard. Large projects require steel reinforcing bars (called re-bar). The strength of concrete increases when the amount of cement in the mixture increases, the amount of water relative to cement decreases, the density of the concrete is higher, and the aggregate is coarser. (  and the imaginary, physical and spiritual. On the one hand, Todd works within a  domesticRemaining much at home; devoted to home duties or pleasures; as, a domestic man or woman.  Living in or near human habitations; domesticated; tame as distinguished from wild; as, domestic animals.  Made in one's own house, nation, or country; as, domestic manufactures, wines, etc.  One who lives in the family of an other, as hired household assistant; a house servant. Articles of home manufacture, especially cotton goods.  (The Online Plain Text English Dictionary)  textile tradition, including its spark of social activism; on the other hand, she enlarges its expressive range and audience through the materials, imagery and ideas with which she works. As a result, Todd's work has been presented in both traditional  craftThe production of work involving the use of skilled hands.  venues and in  contemporaryCurrent, belonging to the same period of time. Usually referring to our present time, but can refer to being current with any specified time. (  art galleries and museums.  (Canadian Museum of Civilization Fact Sheet, 2002)
additional resources Barbara Todd and Security Blanket 57 Missiles
Duration: 2:45 min
Size: 11915kb
Things to Think About
  • How does Todd suggest ideas of violence and death in her quilt? What everyday objects does she suggest in her vertical repetitive pattern? Is there a resemblance to toy images?
  • Discuss the connections between economics and military powers with fellow artists, students and teachers. How does Todd suggest these connections in her work? Look for two hand stitched red "X's" in 57 Missiles. What could they represent?
  • Do the colours and patterns of the materials in 57 Missiles remind you of any commonplace items? This is an example of an artist recycling materials. Why would she want to do this and how could this old material be a better choice than new material? Discuss what wearing a suit can symbolize in our culture?
  • What does subversive mean? Could this work be subversive? Discuss irony and determine if she uses irony in the development of her ideas.
  • With fellow students, artists and teachers, discuss past and current ideas of "women's work" and "men's work". How are they different? Have you experienced any role stereotyping in your family, or do you break with old traditions?
Studio Activity
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  • Brainstorm a list of unrelated topics on opposite ends of meaning.
  • The list could include; youth and old age, growth and demolition, acceptance and discrimination, hunger and obesity, etc.
  • Combine your ideas in new ways to communicate a message.


  • Discuss the historical use of men's ties and the reasons why men continue to wear ties today.
  • Look for examples of  ties from the past and the present.
  • Observe how the sizes and shapes have changed and determine some possible reasons for this.
  • Design the "perfect" tie for yourself or a family member.

Working with fabric

Like Barbara Todd’s Security Blanket: 57 Missiles, many artists produce artworks made of fabric.

  • Look for examples of artists who use fabric in their image production.
  • Many people in countries around the world produce works with rags, felt or any materials which are readily available.

Author unknown.  ‘Barbara Todd – Fibre Artist – Montreal, Quebec.’  Fact Sheet. Canadian Museum of Civilization, Hull, Quebec, August, 2002.  Retrieved from the Internet on March 28, 2009 from:

Gustafson, Paula.  ‘Susan Warner Keene, Bill Morton and Barbara Todd.’  Artichoke, Vol. 01, No. 03, 1990.

St. Gelais, Therese.  'Barbara Todd (exposition).'  Parachute:  Contemporary Art Magazine, April 1, 1997.

Canadian Heritage University of Regina Mackenzie Art Gallery Mendel Art Gallery Sask Learning