I posted earlier in the week about the Festival of Quilts at the NEC. I had walked all the way round several times, I thought, but almost at the end of my visit I came to a white cube gallery that I had missed, Mandy Patullo. Before getting onto her work, I thought it would be worth explaining what a white cube gallery is, as one of my blogging friends asked me after the NEC post. The white cubes are my descriptions of temporary structures, painted white and with decent lighting, which are dedicated to invited artists. Sometimes it’s a group or it can be a well-known or particularly interesting lesser-known textile artist. They vary in size, but the standard in them is particularly high, and they are generally invited people. They look like trendy white cube art galleries which is where I got the term from. It is very prestigious to be invited to exhibit in them. I once helped out my friend, Liz Hewitt with hers and it was totally exhausting, but very interesting meeting people and seeing how they behaved.
The white cube that particularly struck me was Mandy Pattullo. She was not there but I talked to her partner who said that she was overwhelmed by the reaction at FOQ, as her work was not particularly well-received in the North-East of England where she lives and works. I thought it was absolutely stunning. She uses old textiles and then embroiders on top of them and the results are stunning. It is very hard to explain why something appeals to you, why you find it beautiful. There were lots of gorgeous things in the main competition and in the other white cubes, but what would I have taken home if it hadn’t been almost entirely sold out? One of Mandy Pattullo’s small pieces. They are full of life and exuberance and joy. They seemed to rejoice in their textile-liness to me. These were textile pieces not trying to be anything else, not trying to ape anything else, just being cloth. I think there is also something of the love and respect for cloth, no matter how battered and bruised, that comes through the maker’s approach. I got the sense that she loved the materials and so I loved them too. Perhaps I shouldn’t try to explain it, but these seemed to me to cloth lovers’ cloths. So here is a selection of the work. Again, I am sorry about the reproduction, but phone photographs are so much quicker to load that pictures taken with a camera.
These are small pieces which show the way that she includes needlepoint and patchwork in her work. She also makes pieces based on clothing:
These seem to quote from old Welsh quilts particularly for me; I think it’s the use of washed out red fabric.
There were some larger pieces as well:
This one shows the broderie perse which is also a feature of Pattullo’s work. The final piece which I really loved contained a section of what must have been a quilt, so frayed that it looked like a red and white print rather than the wadding showing through:
I don’t normally much like all this patriotic union jack and keep calm and carry on stuff, but this had a lightness of touch which I liked, and it did remind me of tattered battle colours, which is a subtle reminder of our imperialist past in this country and how it was achieved.
So, a real highlight for me, as was meeting Pattullo’s lovely partner who was very happy for me to take photos. Her website is www.mandypattullo.co.uk. So now I just need Bristol Quilters to arrange a workshop with her!