Sunday, 17 August 2014

Colour bombs

Holi festival of colour .                            Gianluca Ramalho Misiti/ Lisa Davis

I have been deprived of colour, but like the Indian festival of Holi I feel I have suddenly allowed myself to be colour-bombed.

Years ago, in the early stages of my quilting life, I had a terrible dream. I was stitching my first red and blue quilt  - considered quite bold in its day when muted pink and sage green ruled - when the colours unexpectedly started washing away to grey, like the watercolour painting in a shower of rain  in the Cadbury's Flake advert. There was no danger, no menace, but it was a nightmare nonetheless, and it has haunted me ever since.

My colour deprivation came to a head at the recent Festival of Quilts at the NEC in Birmingham, which for me, this year, because of a variety of circumstances, compressed itself into a mere four hours (in the past I've been there for up to four days). What was my overwhelming impression? Neutral. In all senses. Many of the juried art quilts, while technically very accomplished, came in all shades of cream, taupe, grey, greige, calico, sand, off-white, biscuit, buff, ecru, fawn, mushroom and oatmeal. Let's be honest, they were beige.

With the clock ticking, I rebelled by going to the M Rosenberg & Son  trading stands where I bought the most gloriously colourful, wild, ridiculously large-scale floral fabrics I have ever seen (above). I can't wait to use them.

Then, a few days later, I went to the life-affirming, energising, Matisse cut-outs exhibition at Tate Modern. I sat in front of The Snail, thinking that it was so familiar as to be banal, but within minutes I was entranced, wanting only to make a quilt that reproduced every brush stroke and  irregular edge.  I didn't hear a single person coming out at the end of the exhibition saying, "But I wish Matisse had used beige".

Having finally finished the project for a wallhanging to commemorate my aunt, which while being one of my most important and meaningful "commissions", has preoccupied me for the past year (of which more in future blogs), I feel joyously liberated. I have since started a quilt using fabrics selected by my sort-of god-granddaughter, above, only to have to put these to one side for an equally exciting project.  Hooray, let colour rule!

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