I was talking to the Medieval Historian this morning and saying that I seem to have had a medium-sized skip of affirmation parked outside the house for a month which has been shovelled in through the door at regular intervals. I mention this because I still finding it difficult to process all the thoughts and ideas that I have had. Consequently, I thought I would just make a start and post some pictures of the exhibition at York. I have been trying to make a video to put on YouTube, but have had limited success. I also realise that I didn’t take a shot standing at the door to give an overview, but the following will give an idea:
These pieces were on the first wall as you went in. They are a series of placemats about images of women from 1970s sitcoms which were popular during the formative years of CEOs and MDs of large organisations now. I had never exhibited these before, although I use them in my talks, and Mrs Slocombe’s pussy (top left) always gets a great reaction. Next to that was the Anita and Me quilt:
This one is a showstopper. We had to hang it where there was a series of hooks to support its weight so it could be better placed, and it was hard to get the lighting quite right. Even hauled up on the wall like this it brushed the floor because it is such a woppa. It looked good under spotlights, though.
These are the pieces based on contemporary samplers inculcating business lessons into today’s inquiring minds. The experiment was to make pieces for an exhibition/conference in Manchester and I decided to ask what our business schools could teach an entrepreneur like Mr Thornton, in Mrs Gaskell’s North and South. I took the quotations from the Financial Times. In the end the quilts had a little exhibition at the Whitworth Art Gallery which was one of the highlights of my life so far. Funnily enough, I am now more or less ready to let go of these pieces which were made five or so years ago. It’s about that long, then, before I can think about giving them away or selling them.
After these was the run of early quilts which is shown at the top of the post. These went beautifully together because of their colour schemes. And I think they still stand up well.
Next came the Laura Ashley wall:
It started with the Ghost Dolls, which I thought looked wonderful grouped and suspended on the wall. I’m not sure they appreciated being hoiked up with wire loops but they didn’t complain. Then came my new large piece, St Laura, the patron saint of patchworkers:
‘ll blog about this later. I’m not very happy with it. I made it too quickly and it needs severe attention and a lot more quilting. But I wanted something to counterbalance the Body Shop quilt and at least it got finished. I need to think about doing more on it to make it work.
Then some smaller pieces, including the mini-Laura Ashley quilts which were in a book, but which I decided to stitch together to make a small wall piece:
This led onto the Threads of Identity pieces, which looked good grouped together:
On the final wall was the big Elvis quilt about masculine and feminine leadership styles and the smaller pieces I made about corporate excess. They formed the basis of an article which was discussed in a book by Zigmunt Bauman (which is really quite something if you are a sociologist). Finally there was the Woodworm cricket bats quilt which I will write about separately.
I also had a couple of handling pieces and sketchbooks.
It’s hard to write about how I felt about the exhibition. It was really hard work putting it up, and the Medieval Historian and the wonderful Jenna Wade who was grace under fire exemplified made it possible for the show to go on. The camaraderie among artists getting things ready was new to me and really great to experience. Breaking off to eat pizza was fun, and being tired and happy was wonderful. Jenna deserves a medal for her work in making all our shows/events happen and for dealing with the constant stream of last minute health and safety issues. It was also fantastic to clear away all the packing and tools and see the calm space with all the pieces sparkling on the wall. I should also thank Liz Hewitt for all her work in the past with me on exhibitions which gave me the confidence and ability to put up the show and to add touches that made it look really professional.
The hard part to write about is how it made me feel to do it and to have done it. I haven’t dared look at the comments book yet. People who know me pretty well might be surprised by that, but this is me up there on the wall. It is very public and very personal. On the way up to York we were listening to Tacita Dean on the radio talking about how drained she was after doing her show at Tate Modern. We rolled our eyes, but actually, I found even my small-scale retrospective emotionally draining, along with being polite to people while noticing threads that needed clipping and repairs that needed doing, and the fact that the St Laura Quilt really didn’t work. But it was lovely that the admin people next door found time to come and seek me out to say how much they had enjoyed it. Being happy and fulfilled and a bit proud of yourself can be surprisingly exhausting. I am rambling a bit, so will end, and possibly come back when I have had time to assimilate all this further, but I hope that this gives an indication of what it was like and what it meant to me. And I can email copies of the catalogue to anyone who would like one.