Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Festival of Quilts in Birmingham, UK

(Above:  Two women posing in front of my piece Lift and Tuck at the SAQA exhibition Metaphors on Aging, one of the many outstanding displays of art at the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham, England.  Click on any image in this blog post to enlarge.)

So ... I'm behind in blogging.  Sure, I just posted about taking down a 100+ year old pecan tree and saying a final goodbye to a beloved pet, our car Shadow ... but the real reason I'm behind in blogging is due to a week in England where I took nearly 500 photos.  I've pared down the number, color & contrast corrected the saved images, created Flickr! sets and am now finally ready to share the experience of four days at the NEC (National Exposition Center) for the annual Festival of Quilts in Birmingham, UK!

(Above:  Metaphors on Aging, a SAQA juried traveling exhibition including my piece, Lift and Tuck, which is on the far wall on the right.)

One of the reasons for going to England was to visit my elder son Mathias, a first soloist with Birmingham Royal Ballet, and his girlfriend Laura-Jane (LJ), a first artist with the same company.  This was the first visit in eight years that didn't involve going for a performance.  We were able to really talk, visit, and go to dinner at a "normal" time.  It was lovely.

The other reason for going to England was to experience the annual Festival of Quilts.  This is the largest quilt show in Europe.  It was AWESOME!  I had a piece, Lift and Tuck, on view in the SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates) juried traveling exhibit, Metaphors on Aging.  This also gave me a chance to help steward the show.  I sat in the booth for an hour-and-a-half on three different days.

(Above:  Metaphors on Aging, catalog.)

While in the booth, I got a chance to tell people about SAQA, its benefits, the show, and also to sell both Portfolio 19 and the Metaphors on Aging catalog.  (To see all the works in the Metaphors on Aging show, CLICK HERE.  I am very proud to have a piece in both books.  The portfolio series features a piece from all the juried professional SAQA members.)  It was fun to watch people at The Festival of Quilts reacting to my piece.  The stitched 50s bra and girdle caused a lot of laughter.  People took photos in front of it!  What a hoot! 

(Above:  Maggie Vanderweit and her three pieces in the Metaphors on Aging exhibition.)

Being in the SAQA booth also meant getting to meet people ... like Maggie Vanderweit who also had work in the show.

(Above:  Ramshackle House, an art quilt by Sandy Snowden.)

Sandy Snowden tirelessly worked to coordinate the SAQA volunteers.  She is as welcoming as she is talented ... and generous too!

(Above:  Mary Fisher and one of her quilts.)

Sandy gave me a complimentary ticket to the charity dinner featuring Mary Fisher.  This is one amazing woman!  She is best known for her public address to the Republican Convention in 1992 as an HIV positive mother.  Her advocacy for AIDS prevention and education is heartfelt and strong.  Her art quilts speak volumes.  I bought a copy of her recent book.  Thank you, Sandy, for this amazing experience!

(Above:  The Festival of Quilts Fashion Show.)

I was also lucky enough to sit beside Sandy during the Fashion Show.  Sandy's two-piece fantasy garment was wonderful.  I snapped plenty of photos but most, of course, were blurry due to the motion of the models.  Thankfully, a few turned out well ... including this one of a dress I would most definitely wear!  WOW!

(Above:  The SAQA Meet and Greet)

Sandy Snowden also helped Alicia Merrett coordinated the SAQA Meet and Greet.  Business cards were exchanged between people from three different continents!  Why?  Well, I'm from North America and the "local" SAQA Chapter includes all of Europe and the Middle East!  Listening to the concerns and the connections was amazing.  Their regional newsletter is sent in four different languages!

(Silvia Dell'Aere and her award winning miniature art quilt depicting two orcas.)

Silvia Dell'Aere is a SAQA member who posted on the on-line forum her design choices for a miniature piece featuring two swimming orcas.  I was happy to meet her ... and see that the resulting options ended with a third place award for a miniature art quilt! 

(Above:  Christine Davoile trying a long arm sewing machine.)

My son Mathias is amazed at just how many people I know in England ... like Christine Davoile, a talented costume designer who met me at the Festival of Quilts for some time together.  Christine tried a long arm machine, bought some heat-activated disperse fabric dyes, and looked around at several of the exhibits with me.  During the year, she keeps me informed of just how well Mathias looks on stage!  Christine is also regularly attends performances!

(Above:  Julie Mackinder and her art quilt.)

I also met up with Julie Mackinder.  We've been blogging friends for several years.  Julie introduced me to my all-time favorite cemetery ... Rock Cemetery in Nottingham.  I'll be in her debt forever!  During the four days at the Festival of Quilts I also ran into several other blog friends ... like Jacqueline de Jong from the Netherlands.  It's funny that I knew more people in England's big quilt show than I did in Houston, Texas last November at the International Quilt Festival! 

(Above:  Red Stones 2 by Dianne Firth.)

Meeting friends is always nice ... but looking at the incredible artworks on display was what really blew me away.  I enjoyed seeing work by some of the artist's who also have work in Quilt National 2013 ... like Dianne Firth from Australia.

(Above: Traversing the Land by Dijanne Cevaal.)

There were several pieces in various exhibits by both Dianne Firth and Dijanne Cevaal ... both from Australia.  I've been familiar with Dijanne's work for years and truly enjoyed seeing her Travelers Blanket in person.  I love the fact that she's an expert at both hand and free motion embroidery.  

(Above: Elizabeth Brimelow's Round Meadow.)

I also loved being introduced to work from other artists like Elizabeth Brimelow.  Her Round Meadow is truly awesome ... from every angle.  There were a couple exhibits that also had fantastic work ... but prohibited any photography. 

(Above: Eszter Bornemisza with her City in the Aire.)

Fortunately, the exhibit including Eszter Bornemisza's City in the Aire allowed photography ... even images with the talented artist standing beside her work!  This piece was remarkable and I was thrilled to know another person making work on a stitched grid like this.  Eszter used a water soluble stabilizer.  My "Grid of Photos" (working title) used Stitch-and-Tear.  We sort of communicated these things despite the fact that neither of us really understood one another's language.  I've heard Hungarian; it is impossible! LOL!  

(Above: Detail of Annabel Rainbow's Hello Dear, What Did You Do Today?)

One of the highlights of the Festival of Quilts was meeting Annabel Rainbow and seeing her work.  Since I'm creating nudes of my own, it was very nice to talk to someone about the "pros and cons" of such subject matter!  Annabel's work is WONDERFUL.  She is also SO NICE!  This series, especially the words stitched all over her body in the piece, are worth visiting on her website.  CLICK HERE!  If you share a feminist point of view ... this is for you!

(Above: Imboic Betula Trio.  A grouping of 3D work ... in a show full of 3D quilting!)

There were several other nudes in the show ... something that just doesn't seem to happen in the United States.  Another interesting difference is the number of three dimensional artworks.  Sandy Snowden wisely suggested that the English and Europeans simply don't have the strong attachment to a traditional bed quilt and are thus more likely to embrace unique approaches and designs.  I think she's right!

(Above: Mandy Pattullo's recycled fibers.)

One of the exhibitions in which I spent quite a lot of time featured the recycled works of Mandy Pattullo.  Great work!

(Above: Recycled material blanket from Karnataka in India.)

The texture of recycled and distressed materials available for viewing at The Festival of Quilts were both modern and meant as wall hangings and old fashioned and meant for function.  I loved both Mandy's artwork and the Indian recycled blanket.

(Above: Stephanie Redfern in her booth.)

I also loved the use of paper ... as in all the pieces in competitive quilting categories by Stephanie Redfern ... who was selling like crazy in her own booth!  Great work!

As a result, I have a Flickr! Set with all 140 photos I kept from the Festival of Quilts.  CLICK HERE!  I also left a brief impression of each piece in the description box!  Enjoy!  I hope the coming years find me returning to England for this great show!

Although I've posted twice since writing this blog entry, I'm linking it to Nina-Marie's "Off the Wall Fridays", a site for sharing fiber art works ... because, well, this might be something that her readers might enjoy more than just looking at "my work"! LOL! 


Maggi said...

Lovely to meet you at FOQ and hope to see you there again soon. So glad that you enjoyed the show and found so many people that you know.

Sandy said...

Hi, don't big me up so much! LOL I am glad you enjoyed it. I love making situations where people can discover or be encouraged.

Just a clarification, Alicia Merrett organised the Meet and Greet.

oh, and Maggi (above comment) receives the book shipments and brings them to FOQ.

Thanks for the encouragement when I went into meltdown over the money bit! Elisabeth says if no one else does it next year, she will try to come all 4 days! phew! We finally got it all transferred to SAQA yesterday.
Thanks again for your help.

Wanda said...

Awesome flckr photos! What a show! It was way bigger than I expected. I guess everything is going to be compared to Athens now. For me: Chessboard, wagon, dragon. How'd I do? The chessboard is really beautiful. Did the pieces stand solidly on it? Thank you for sharing...I feel like I was there.

Regina B Dunn said...

You have such wonderful trips! If you ever need a travel partner or a roomie for a workshop, email me. :) Thanks for posting the photos.

Heather P said...

Looks like a wonderful trip. I love the photos of the FOQ!

Margaret said...

Lovely to see the FOQ through your eyes, Susan -- and to see your piece sharing space with my colleague, Mary Pal in "Metaphors..."

Congratulations! This is definitely a Bucket List trip for me. :-)

annabel said...

Hi, and it was really good to meet and chat with you too Susan. Look forward to seeing how your new work continues and thanks for your encouragement! Love, Annabel x

annabel said...

Footnote: Hi Susan, you know we were chatting about life quilts and your plans for future work, and wanted to know my experiences, well have a look at the blog if you have time www.grumpyandmad.blogspot.com Lots of comments about the one quilt that I sent to the states with Mancuso. It's been censored! A x