This year I managed to get to the Festival of Quilts at the NEC in Birmingham. I went with my Grate Frends, Alison, Becky, Ceri and Ruth, collectively known as the Dympnas. Saint Dympna is the patron saint of the slightly doo-lally, not the entirely mad, the slightly not quite all there, which we think describes us perfectly.
Anyway, this is my take on the show, followed by some very personal highlights.
- The standard of work overall was very high, I thought, much higher than last time I went. I don’t know why this should be the case, but the design standard was high and the execution was pretty good throughout.
- The show has become a sort of tripartite event with the competition quilts, the invited white cube exhibition work and the traders taking up a third each. The actual square footage was bigger than last time I went with more room for tea, coffee and picnics which was welcome. There are far fewer quilts submitted by the ‘serious leisure’ quilters, and I think that is a shame. Maybe people still prefer Malvern for that. In general, though, I like the combination as the white cube quilts were stunning in many cases. One in particular was a group of Dutch quilters who did not allow photography so I cannot include a photo, but had masterly and very controlled use of vibrant colours. ((Willy Doreleijers, Olga Prins and Anco Brouwers).
- There were two big trends: phototransfer and lettering. In the worst examples, the phototransfer seemed like a thin excuse for showing holiday snaps with some co-ordinating fabric round them, and by and large I didn’t think that the technique was used all that well. One exception was the professional quilter, Annette Morgan:
And there were some nice lettering pieces like this one by
- There were some great new books on sale, particularly in the Quilt Art category. I bought Sandra Meech’s new book. I love her work. I find the books a bit samey, but buy them anyway because they are so beautifully produced and illustrated and I find her work magnificent and really wish I could do something similar (and here’s a woman who really knows how to make phototransfer work)
- Our trip was very civilised. We travelled together and then split up and met for lunch and tea. Otherwise everyone went round on their own which was a good idea as it meant you could go at your own pace and see quilts or go shopping. On the other hand, the level of rudeness from people was amazing and we all had a tale of grabby fellow shoppers, suitcases on wheels over feet or stroppy traders. So much for quilters being piecemakers and wanting to cover the world in cuddle quilts.
Here, then, are a few of my very favourite pieces – just a personal selection, and not the prize winners or the much admired portrait of David Tennant in sepia patches.
This is Liz Howlett’s ‘Bead all you can bead’. I love beads and I love indigo shibori tie-dye techniques so I loved this, and I very much admire the skill of the tying to get those lovely smooth curves.
I liked the attention to detail on the quilting on this piece and the very confident use of the circle motif.
I admired the virtuoso quilting on this piece.
For some reason I find lizards really appealing in art works (and sometimes in the flesh, although the enormous one lumbering through the Indian jungle I encountered with my mother was less cuddly). I also really like the take on attic windows in this quilt.
I think I might have done a bit more with the quilting in the sky here, but otherwise a gorgeous small quilt.
This is a terrible photograph of a stunning piece which showed the fabulous effects you could get with circular machine quilting:
This second close-up is very blurry, but shows the black on black which worked brilliantly.
This was a great combination of a painted quilt which really worked and a lovely use of seeding to quilt and enhance the painted cloth.
Another lovely painted quilt, which also used negative space in a way that was well-integrated with the rest of the piece (and there were a lot of ideas in this quilt).
Christine Restall seems to me to have really mastered colouring cloth – these pears look like she has used a crayon like Inktense on them. I must have liked her work because I too photographs of two pieces including this one of flat irons:
Lots of people have a go at this sort of quilt but very few seem to be able to pull it off with this quality of line. On a similar theme, the master of this sort of work is Linda Kemshall:
The gold detail here is painted on and I think the background may have been discharge-sprayed out to bring up the orange. I love her work.
I really loved this. The quilting was inventive and the colour palette was subtle but punchy.
This is To The Left of the Moon by Hazel Ryder and was based on a saying of her dad’s. It is so beautiful and that horse is so lovely.
This post is getting a bit unwieldy and so I will stop here, but I will blog about my very favourite white cube exhibition at some point., and finish by saying that I had a great time with the quilts and the dympnas.