I spent Saturday afternoon stewarding at the Bristol Quilters’ 2011 Exhibition. What a fantastic show. There were over a hundred beautiful quilts made by over 60% of the membership, all of which were gorgeous and stunningly well made. As my other Grate Friend, Becky, who is the current chair of Bristol Quilters, said, as she was chucking out the stragglers from the tea rooms, we were proud to show people what we had done. Every time we put on a show we think it’s the best we have ever done, but I think this one really was a big step forward at a collective level.
It is really bad to single out people, and I have used Ceri’s quilt because she is a good friend and will not object, I hope, so I have not included lots of photos of people’s work as I don’t have their permissions and don’t want to suggest that any were lovelier than any others – a selection would just be according to my taste after all, but I loved the things that I have seen my friends making over a number of weeks, months and years come to fruition. I think the way that Ceri, for example, puts that hit of purple and yellow at the corners of the quilt is genius.
The other thing which I will write about at a later date is the wonderful way that the rooms were filled with stories. I always thought that quilting was about cloth, but it struck me on Saturday just what a narrative practice it is. The quilts told stories and the people in the room told more stories. Doreen Massey, who writes about place being made up of story, would have been on overload before she got out of room one.
With regard to my own Body Shop quilt, I did not take a photo of it because it was against a rather cluttered background and would have made for a slightly confusing picture. It was in a lovely position on its own, though, and I am very sensible of that honour. I didn’t have the nerve to hang round and take an action shot of people looking at it just in case I overheard negative comments (the gist of which was that people liked it but didn’t understand quite what it was getting at, which is fair enough). On reflection, however, I rather wish that I had taken a photo of it in context, because it was hung next to some Stanley Spencer sketches which the school we hired has from his time as a visiting teacher. First, what company to be in! Second, Stanley Spencer at such a chi-chi girls‘ school. Imagine. Still, I can now say on my CV that I have been hung with Stanley Spencer.
I had a phone call on the day of the hanging to say that one of the little goddess plaques had dropped off as they hoisted it aloft. My first thought was that this was typical botching on my part and not attaching it properly, but on reflection it seemed to me that this was typical, actually, of Anita Roddick, who is so prominently all over the quilt, and a life-long contrarian. She was never going to be up for public display without acting up a bit. The piece does seem to have captured something of her spirit. Here are the portraits of her from the quilt:
So, ever so many congratulations to Rosy and Trish who organised it, and all the other people who worked so hard to make it a success. We had over 700 visitors in three days, 100 more than last time. I only heard good things from people coming back at the end to vote for their viewer’s choice. So, lovely to be associated, even at the fringe, with such a very successful show.