I’m just back from the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham. I saw lots of inspiring quilts, met some old and new friends and got some supplies for my studio. Oh, and saw my two quilts too.
Steve and I stayed at the Hilton which is only a short distance from the NEC and had tickets for two days. I get tired out and overwhelmed by large crowds and lots of visual stimulation, so it was great to be able to go back to the hotel for a break and have a couple of days to spread the visit over. This was so lovely for me, because in the past I came up on the train, took the bus to a B & B and another bus to the NEC. This time, I could walk or get the shuttle to the show and go back to the hotel and relax in the sauna or have a nosh in the Executive Lounge.
We also went to the Gala Dinner which was: not bad food (considering they were catering for 400 people); the awards ceremony for first, second and third place in all categories (it would have been more interesting if the artist’s and judge’s statements were read out or posted next to the winning quilt photo) and finally a show and tell from a guy who buys quilts from the Middle East. We sat next to some nice women from Germany who gave me some leads on markets in The Netherlands for our upcoming trip in September. Steve was the object of curiousity, being one of the only men in the room besides the organisers and presenters. As a copywriter, Steve has written the script for events like these, so he cast a critical eye over the proceedings.
These big quilt shows can be about networking too. We had breakfast with my friend and screenprinting teacher Alicia Merritt who told me about the Textile Forum South West which I plan to join. I am a new member of the Contemporary Quilt Group of the British Quilt Guild and she told me about a coffee morning on Sunday. I didn’t know what to expect. The organiser had invited six teachers to give a mini demo which we rotated around to. I met Penny Armitage who was painting on Bondaweb. She lives in North Devon and we were both pleased to meet another art quilter from this neck of the woods and plan to meet up soon.
And of course the quilts! One thing I love about the FoQ is the little galleries that groups or individuals have. One of my favourites is the European Quilt Triennial. The innovative design and level of craftmanship is outstanding. No photography allowed though. First prize went to Mirjam Pet-Jacobs of The Netherlands for her video installation ‘Timeless in Time’. You can watch it here.
I also loved the European Quilt Association’s ‘Colour Connection’ exhibit. Nine quilters from each country made squares (40cm) using a single colour. I liked Italy’s offering.
I met Brigitte Kopp at the gala dinner. She had some quilts on show and also taught a class on adding 3-D structures to a quilt. I plan to be organised enough next year to come to at least one of the great classes that are offered. Here is one of her sheer quilts which was up too high to see much detail or the title.
Here are a few others which caught my eye.
It reminded me of a photo Seve took on the Norfolk coast last summer.
I loved the bright colours on this group quilt.
I loved the Tlingit motifs on this quilt, appliqued from a totem pole design by Ricky Tims.
I made sure to go to the SAQA Frontiers gallery to see Susan Brubaker Knapp‘s and other’s beautiful quilts exploring the intersection of art and science.
I also really liked this quilt from Betty Busby.
This was from a collection of quilts inspired by the Russian artist Anatoli Aleksandrovich Sergjenko. The collection ‘Faces of Love’ has beautiful depictions of love and eroticism. These quilts were made at the Murmansk Craft Arts Centre.
There was a gallery of embroidered wedding blankets from Southern Iraq – Gardens of Eden of Mesopotamia.
Finally, here is one of my entries. Our wedding quilt ‘Cleaved’.
It was great to see it at the Festival of Quilts, but I love it best at home hanging at the head of our marriage bed and remembering it at our wedding altar in May.
I had also entered ‘Winter Trees Wept’. I felt like it got a bit lost at such a big and busy show, so I waited until it was back at home to photograph. I plan to enter it into Sacred Threads next year, a smaller show which shares the experiences of quilters whose stories may be a source of healing and strength.