Saturday, August 15, 2015

Festival of Quilts, Part Two

(Above:  Super giant sized digital monitor ... showing my first lecture!)

It's hard to believe that a week ago I was in England participating in The Festival of Quilts ... but it's true! If you look closely, it is also true that Kaffe Fassett's lecture immediately followed mine in the impressive, black curtained theater.  WOW!  He's like really, really, really famous and has been for years upon years.

(Above:  The entrance to The Festival of Quilt's theater, a place sponsored by Luane Rubin's

Last Saturday I was again on stage in this theater ... sitting on a panel discussion moderated by Luane Rubin ... alongside Brandon Mably, Kaffe Fassett's partner and studio manager; Claire Benn, an internationally respected fiber artist from Great Britain; and Vivien Finch, the president of England's Quilters' Guild.  We discussed trends in quilting.

(Above:  Annabel Rainbow painting "live" on a platform inside Maker, Making, Made, the Through Our Hands exhibition at Festival of Quilts.)

I wasn't the only one "performing" last week under the enormous NEC (National Exhibition Center) roof.  Both Annabel Rainbow and Laura Kemshall had raised platforms on which they worked "live" for a gathered audience.  Annabel painted on a work-in-progress.

(Above:  Annabel Rainbow talking to the crowd.  Please notice the bulletin board behind her.  It is a listing of scheduled "performance times".)

This was truly "performance art".  Sure, she's doing what she would do privately in her studio ... but ... there's no way the process and decision-making is the same.  Working while explaining, painting while interacting with on-lookers, the pace of action, the surrounding atmosphere and background noise, and so many other factors take the act of painting to a new, unexpected realm.  People loved it.  People lined up ahead of the posted time ... just to watch, ask questions, and see the work progress.  It was great!

There's no way Annabel works like that at home.  It was a rare and wonderful glimpse into her ideas and thoughts ... by sort of disturbing her normal actions and sense of studio space.  Brilliant!

(Above:  Laura Kemshall cutting away a layer of fabric applied over her work-in-progress.)

Audiences lined up for Laura Kemshall ... just to watch her meticulously cut away excess fabric from an overlay on her work-in-progress.  While the interaction with the public might not have altered her approach, there is no doubt that Laura is a genius.  Freely she shared how multiple layers of image and text viewed on the computer screen were used to determine the placement of the text and birds appearing on the top layer.  The more Laura cut, the more one could see the brilliant planning, execution, and intended appearance of this conceptually driven piece.  Laura also wrote a grand blog post about the Through Our Hands exhibit.  CLICK HERE to read it and see all the work in our group show!  In my blog post, "Festival of Quilts, Part One", I showed the transition from empty walls to filled ... but Laura's post does a fair better job at showing the scope of our exhibit and the artists whose work came together to make this area one of the best in the entire festival. (I am totally honored to be part of this group and indebted to both Annabel and Laura for making so many unique opportunities come true!  Thank you!)

(Above: Linda Barlow's These Hands.)

One of the other affiliate members of Through Our Hands is Linda Barlow who had an excellent solo exhibition right across the busy aisle from my Wall of Keys installation.  I adored her concept and especially this large cynotyped fabric piece of hands.

(Above: Linda Barlow's These Hands, detail.)

Here's one statement from her website:  "My work is often autobiographical and considers the changing social position of women in contemporary society."  Her show was called Searching for the Invisible Woman.

(Above: Linda Barlow's video area.)

Linda also works in video ... and her's was excellent!

(Above: Sara Impey's Deconstructing the Stitch.)

Another Through Our Hands affiliate artist is Sara Impey ... whose work I have long admired and saw in various exhibition spaces at The Festival of Quilts.

(Above: Sara Impey's Deconstructing the Stitch, detail.)

How could I not like this?  I LOVE text ... but only when it is conceptually perfect and beautifully incorporated into the whole.  Sara Impey's work is ALWAYS perfect!

(Above: Sara Impey's Following the Thread.)

One can spot her work long before one can read the exhibition label.  I also appreciate her ability to explore new dimensions.

(Above: Luke Haynes.)

Of course there were other artists with very, very recognizable work ... like Luke Haynes ... 

(Above: Tentmakers of Cairo's booth.)

... and the Tentmakers of Cairo.

(Above: One of the tentmakers at work.)

These Egyptian stitchers rightfully attracted large number of viewers, stitched in public, and sold very well.  Their booth was always buzzing with activity and bright colors.

(Above: Vladimir Telnykh's Dandelion Forest.)

Luke Haynes and the tent-makers weren't the only men showing.  I spent quite a bit of time looking at the unique coiling, embellished, and sophisticated whimsy in Vladimir Telnykh's exhibition.

(Above: Vladimir Telnykh's Fish.)

Vladimir's choice of mainly upholstery fabric is an excellent one for these padded and stuffed pieces.

(Above: Vladimir Telnykh's Singing Angel.)

The presentation and mounting is excellent too.

(Above: Vladimir Telnykh's Tommy Cat.)

I particularly liked Vladimir's folksy style executed with excellent craftsmanship.  Everything about each piece was flawless and fun!

(Above: Susan Orchin's My Lady.)

I spent time looking at the top award winning quilts but didn't snap too many photos.  This area was always crowded with viewer!  Of course, I do like a sense of scale provided by eager quilters!  This piece won First Place in the art quilt category.  I liked it very much!

(Above: Susan Orchin's My Lady.)

The subject matter, angle, and pattern for stitching really did set it apart.

(Above: Annette Morgan's Therford Trees.)

Now ... I was in attendance at the Festival of Quilt for all four days.  I'm pretty sure I saw EVERYTHING.  I didn't, however, even try to take photos of most of the things I liked.  That would be too overwhelming.  So, on the last day, I took pictures of just a few of my favorites.

(Above: Annette Morgan's Therford Trees, detail.)

The entire Fine Art Master's exhibition area was probably the one in which I spent the most time.  Each piece was obviously outstanding. I was particularly drawn to fabrics with a painted/screened/dyed surface.

(Above: Annette Morgan's Therford Trees, detail.)

This is probably because I spent even more time in the Virtual Studio, an area where working professional studio artists demonstrate their techniques.  This area is free.  One can enter and simply watch, talk, listen, learn, and gain inspiration for as long as one wants.

(Above: Audrey Critchley's What Lies Beneath.)

Thus, I really enjoyed pieces made using unique fabrics ... material altered by the many painterly approaches I watched in the Virtual Studios.

(Above: Audrey Critchley's What Lies Beneath, detail.)

More than paint, these pieces often included both hand and machine stitching ... for different texture and different results.  

(Above: Audrey Critchley's What Lies Beneath, detail.)

One day I'd like to set up a "wet studio".  I've done several of the techniques I watched (but in my own way!)  It might be nice to return to such explorations ... ah ... to dream!

(Above: Claudia Helmer's Empty Words.)

I watched Claudia Helmer and Claire Benn for quite some time.  They are very generous, nice people ... who just happen to produce some of the best things I've ever seen in fabric.

(Above: Claudia Helmer's Empty Words, detail.)

(Above: Sign for Elements Exhibition.)

Another exhibition was called Elements.  At first glance I thought this was a "rip off" of the SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates) Radical Elements exhibition but it wasn't.  Instead of assigning juried artist to one of the periodic chart's elements, this exhibit allowed artists to respond to the entire definition of "elements". 

(Above: Jane Varrall's Cyprium.)

The required size was similar to the SAQA show and the first piece that caught my eye really did focus on the "element" of copper (which I liked very much!)

(Above: Jane Varrall's Cyprium, detail.)

But the exhibit included all sorts of other "elements".

(Above: Birgitta Debenham's Light Play.)

Here's the element of light and texture ... by using 3D forms.  It found this piece very exciting.

(Above: Display of notebooks from participating artists.)

I also admired the notebooks with a page for every participating member ...

(Above: Display of notebook's including page for Birgitta Debenham's Light Play.)

...including a page for Birgitta Debenham's 3D approach.

(Above: Janice Lawson's The Truth Behind the Christmas Message.)

Two years ago I was amazed at the acceptance, inclusion, and number of 3D works at The Festival of Quilt.  I was hoping to see more ... and I did.  Janice Lawson's The Truth Behind the Christmas Message was probably my favorite one.  Simple, easy to recognize ... even from a distance ... and something to draw a viewer closer ...

(Above: Janice Lawson's The Truth Behind the Christmas Message, detail.)

... until each ring revealed a fact about consumerism.  (Sorry the photo isn't the best ... but I'm sure you get how conceptually perfect this otherwise straight-forward artwork really is!)

(Above: Kate Crossley's Hearts, Daggers, Wings and Arrows.)

There were all sorts of ways in which 3D approaches were used ... even wall mounted.

(Above: Sally Wilson's Tributary to Tide.)

Sally Wilson's work was framed ... in a way to use the moulding to successfully project the fish.

(Above: Sally Wilson's Tributary to Tide, detail.)

The layers and layers made the work expand beyond the "aquarium" window of the frame that successfully contained the illusion of water.

(Above: Sally Wilson's Tributary to Tide, detail.)

The untold hours of work in these piece added to the depth.

(Above: Chess set.)

I never got close enough to the first place winner in the "Quilt Creations" category.  (This category is defined as: All entries in this category must qualify as clothing, wearable art or three dimensional pieces.  It comes with a one-thousand pound award for first place.)

 (Above: Lilia Jimenez Meza's Even If the Cage is Made of Gold, It's Still a Prison.)

There were several "two-sided" quilts.  This one amazed me.  It was in a special exhibition of the quilters of Mexico.  Each piece responded to a traditional adage.

(Above: Lilia Jimenez Meza's Even If the Cage is Made of Gold, It's Still a Prison.)

This exhibit might have been better had more adages been used.  There were too many pieces illustrating the same words.  This also got me thinking about language ... and how translations, especially translations of typical "sayings", get a little lost.

(Above: Lilia Jimenez Meza's Even If the Cage is Made of Gold, It's Still a Prison, detail.)

But, conceptually ... I really liked the little golden bird on the more obscured side ... even though I could read or even make out the words on it.  

(Above: Noelle Lyon's Where Hopes Ran Dry and Homage to Humour.)

The Festival of Quilts is truly an international event.  One exhibition area was The Golden Textures of Australia.  I particularly liked Noelle Lyon's two pieces hanging on the outside wall.

(Above: Noelle Lyon's Where Hopes Ran Dry.)

The elongation, asymmetrical shape, and use of rusted fabric really caught my eye.

(Above: Noelle Lyon's Where Hopes Ran Dry, detail from the side.)

This piece looked great from any angle.

(Above: Noelle Lyon's Homage to Humour.)

It looked perfect along side this one!

(Above: Noelle Lyon's Homage to Humour, detail.)

The rusted fabric perfectly represented arid, barren land ... hot, scorched, dry.  Excellent.

(Above: Gillian Travis' Scandinavian Jumpers.)

I saw several pieces by Gillian Travis ... who knows just how to manipulate her material and her machines to create these seamless and perfect sweaters.  There was no getting close to these either.  People just flocked to them!

(Above: Jane Callard's Aboriginal Son.)

There is a category called "My First Quilt".  This one did win a prize ... but not "first place".  It was, nonetheless, my favorite.  In fact, it wasn't until the fourth day that I realized that it was someone's "first" quilt. 

(Above: Zsuzsa Pinter's My Little Brother and Me.)

There was no way that this piece would escape my fascination.  Loved it!

(Above: Kay Bell's Subtle Differences, Judge showing the reverse.)

Now, please don't think I skipped the traditional quilts.  I didn't.  In fact, I'm often overwhelmed by the craftsmanship, design, color combinations, and the overall perfection of these masterpieces.  Thankfully, there are stewards in every aisle ready to use their white gloves to turn the edges ... just to astonish people even more by showing the remarkable reverses.

(Above: Kay Bell's Subtle Differences.)

The front was pretty spectacular too!

I didn't manage to get the name of maker of this traditional quilt ... which is a shame.  It was my favorite. I loved the subtle, dull rusty orange and slate blue combination of colors ... but ...

... the hand stitching stole my heart.  (If anyone reading knows who made this quilt, please leave me a comment!)

THANK YOU Sandy Snowden!  Within a few hours of posting, Sandy provided the maker's name and title!  It is Wheel Star by Liz Hands!

 In closing, I highly recommend going to The Festival of Quilts ... even if your name isn't up in lights like mine is on the giant monitor!  Yup ... that's me ... up there with my name alongside the "greats" in this art form!  Honored!


Sandy said...

I loved Vladimir Telnykh's work, too. Straight away I went back to the SAQA booth and got a Portfolio and a leaflet for him. He is interested in joining. He gave me one of the DVDs of his work. I have also passed on his name to Martha. I think we need him and his adaptation of the ethnic fabric and stitch traditions from Russia.

The name of the quilter of the piece with the hand stitch was Liz Hands. The quilt was called Wheel Star. I took loads of photos of the different stitches she used to make the motifs.

Debbie said...

Everyone I have spoken to who went loved your keys. Thanks for the other images its great to see lots of pictures of something I didn't go to.

Julie said...

I've enjoyed your angle on the Festival and you saw many quilts that I missed. I loved Vladimir's beautiful and varied work, lots of fun too. Liz Hands lives locally to me and I've done a class with her. She is a master of hand stitched quilts and a good teacher too.

Wanda said...

I am blown away. Simply overwhelmed. Are you going next year?? Because, if you do, maybe I will overcome my fear of flight and meet you there. Thank you SO MUCH for the wonderful tour!!!

Karen@littlebirdiequilting said...

Thank you for bringing the Festival to us!


Fantastic showing of the Festival. Some of the pieces were amazing, and I'm sure they were totally BLOWN AWAY by you & your work. I'm so proud. So many people attending...almost like one had to fight the crowds (loved your video of them waiting to get in and then once they opened the entrance).

Annabel Rainbow said...

Fabulous posting Susan, and thank you for your kind words. Your Wall of Keys was truly amazing and everyone loved it. Laura and I really appreciated all your hard work putting them up - I know it wasn't the easiest of jobs and took hours and hours of non stop hammering! Your poor thumb :( But it helped make the Through Our Hands stand really different and we loved it. Thanks for coming all the way to UK, and thanks to all those folks in the US who helped make it possible. So, ready to do it again next time?!!! Love, Annabel xx

Jeannie said...

Thank you Susan for such an indepth post of the show. It is really amazing how many different approaches to creating textile art are represented. I have always hoped to travel to my Great Grandmother's homeplace and attend the show. This post has made that yearning even stronger.

Fibrenell said...

Thank you so much for your in depth blog post. For those of us who couldn't make it to the actual show, accounts like this are so valuable, and your insights were super to read.