Sunday, 16 August 2015

Festival of Quilts 2015: (toot toot)

 Valerie Huggins, Synapse. Digital printing, commercial fabrics, bonded applique,
 machine stitching, hand embroidery and beading.

Quilts, quilts, quilts as far as the eye can see (997 in the open categories alone), fabrics by the tens of thousands of metres, threads by the mile. Exciting, yes; exhausting, definitely; overwhelming, sometimes; inspiring, yes; depressing, yes that too.

And yet this year's Festival of Quilts at the NEC in Birmingham was for me extra special too, because - toot toot (defying my mother who always said it was unseemly to blow one's own trumpet) this year my piece Synapse was among the 17 selected for the Fine Art Quilt Masters. It was made as my entry for Prism in May (see previous posts), but I held off from putting a picture online until the FoQ. So here it is.

Synapse, at Prism, May 2015

Here are all those on the shortlist. And no, I didn't win, even though I had mentally already spent the £5,000 prize on meaningful textile-related travel. The winning quilt, being a muted monochrome, would never have won my vote, however worthy, but when I saw the entry by Anne Smith I knew that this was what I would unhesitatingly have nominated the winner.

Anne Smith, Sharon & Co.
Hand pieced and appliqued, machine and hand embroidery, hand quilted

I first came across her work at the juried Quilt National in Ohio ten years ago (even though she's British) and have been a fan ever since, but this piece was, for me, outstanding. Over the three days I was at the festival, I kept going back to look at it, appreciating it more and more as I did so.

What else made me happy? This one did, from the SAQA "Food for Thought" gallery. While other pieces in this section  were dispiritingly literal in their interpretation, this was a lip-smacking box-full of intriguing colours and texture.

Ann Sanderson, Sushi Q,
Marbelised, hand-dyed, mono printed and painted fabric, quilted and hand embroidered

And this one, from the Diversity in Europe stand - literally one of the first quilts I saw, but which won me over instantly with its calmness, unfussiness, simplicity but perfection of technique, and for the ice-edged sea breeze that it blew into the stuffy, noisy exhibition hall. The maker was Icelandic, and I apologise for not making a note of her name.

And now let's see what the next year brings....

1 comment:

  1. Love the Synapse piece, Val. The triptych is such a powerful form, three moments, the most succinct possibility for play with time.