Sunday, 16 August 2015

Festival of Quilts

Well, this time last week I was just back from my first experience of this amazing celebration of all things quilt related. I had the pleasure of helping out in Christine's gallery on the Saturday morning - there is a lovely blog post here by Helen Conway which says much better than I can what a lovely and moving gallery it was. It was very engaging to spend the morning there greeting people who came to look, watching their reactions to the emotion and thought in the textiles, moving towards and away to get the detail and the overall view. In expressing her experience of watching her father succumb to dementia, it was obvious that these quilts and textile portraits were deeply moving to many viewers; they touch a chord with those of us who have watched one we love slowly disappear, piece by piece, as the mind fragments; I felt privileged to be there.

Christine Chester - Palimpset, detail
So what is my newcomer's impression of the event? Astonishing, exhausting, inspiring, overwhelming, um, all those superlatives. It shows one how wide the umbrella is that embraces the term quilt; themes were as broad as human ingenuity can imagine:

there were traditional quilts, 
Lynne Johnson - Billings Coverlet Reborn

Liz Jones - All Things Bright and Beautiful
art quilts
Chrry Vernon-Harcourt - Coastal Study 1
hand quilting, 
Vanessa Stanfield and Tricia Neale - A Medieval Bestiary, detail
machine quilting, 
Ximo Navarro - It is not a dream, this quilt is real, detail
pictorial quilts, 
Hilde van Schaardenburg - The Threatened Swan, detail

Sally Hutson - The Clothmakers Window, detail
Kate Dowty - Marshwood Vale

Jean McLean - Silence. Judges Choice
quilts full of detail, 
Kirsti Hovland - The Milky Way - Stars Wandering

Kirsti Hovland - The Milky Way - Stars Wandering, detail
quilts with presence, 
Judy Doolan Kjellin - Sadness, detail
those about ideas
Natalia Manley - Beyond the Black Hole. Judges Choice
or poetry - in this case one of my favourites by Yeats
Jill Exell - Stairway to Heaven
or history, 
Marisa Marquez - Lost Inheritance
decorative embellishments, 
all sizes and shapes, 
Amanda House - Dragons Ho!
some to be viewed from both sides 
Sue Palmer - Bou Baretea, one side - detail

and the other
oh I could go on and on. I saw work there that was a million miles from anything I could, or would want to achieve, some that was akin to the tentative experiments I'm working with, some that I might perhaps aspire to one day. And I haven't even mentioned the marketplace!

It is marvellous to me to see how great the variety of human expression is when you come to a show like this, be it large or small. We see things and think, "gosh, I couldn't live with that", or "how on earth long did that take to achieve", others that leave us in awe of the skill or a technique, yet others that we could just gaze and gaze at. It is such a celebration of skill, artistry, invention, technique, thought, hand work, colour, texture; things which we are unique in being able to create and then use to express our endless inventiveness.

Here are a few more favourites

Gloria Loughman - Merrill Hall, Asilomar, California. Detail

Kate White - Dragonfly Studies, detail. Judges Choice Contemporary Quilts

Dianne Firth - Earth Bones

Annabel Groom - Costa Rican Moons

Christine Restall - Estuary

Mary McIntosh - Copper Plates

I loved it!


  1. These are amazing. Perhaps I can get there next year? I find it incredible how talented people are in coming up with their ideas and actually constructing their thoughts in this way.

    1. Hi Pam, yes, wonderful quilts and this is just a small selection. It really is worth visiting, and the Premier Inn right by New Street station, while basic, is the perfect place to stay as it's only ten minutes by train to the NEC from there. Give it a whirl next year :-)

  2. Wow amazing works of art !
    (soooooooooooo many lours of stitch !)

    1. Hi Els, it really was wonderful, but I rather wished I had two bodies so I could swap one out when I got too tired!!!