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Recent Exhibitions

Festival of Quilts

We enjoyed our visit to the Festival of Quilts at the National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham, in August. This is certainly shaping up to be the best of the quilt shows. There were some super exhibits. Jane Dunnewold's exhibition was great but it was disappointing that the Virtual Studio was not open on the day we went. I heard it was brilliant. Laura Kemshall is my favourite quilter. I love the way she crosses the border between quilting and embroidery. Her stand was a delight. Good to see Mary Fogg's work again. Her crisp, tailored approach, often using recycled fabrics, is very satisfying. Too many delights to mention at this Show, which seems set to grow. Good to see more traders this year.

Laura Kemshall
Laura Kemshall
Winner of Innovative Large Quilt category.
Mary Fogg
Mary Fogg
1st Prizewinner
QG Challenge
Mrs J Rednall
Quilters' Guild Challenge winner

Knitting & Stitching Shows

The Practical Study Group

The 'Not What It Seams: First Thoughts' exhibition employed a novel approach. It was actually a preview of an exhibition to be held at the Bankfield, Museum, Halifax, Yorkshire in July next year. So the exhibition at the Knitting & Stitching Show gave a glimpse into the design processes used by this talented group. Many of the members had produced resolved pieces as well as delightful sketchbooks and design work. All the work was based on the Bankfield's collection of costume and clothing and it was fascinating to see the research that goes into a well considered embroidery. The Practical Study Group comprises well-respected textile artists, most of whom are fully occupied with teaching. With such a high-powered group, the work is always brilliant but I found this approach, with its back-up of research and design, quite intriguing and a wonderful example of good practice.

Pieces that stay in the mind: Ruth Issett's flag-like piece is an anthem to colour. Jenny Blackburn's crisp shapes in her tailored panel. Alison King's flying dolls with their humour. I also loved Rosemary Campbell's pale, mysterious works (which refused to be photographed but are imprinted in my memory) and Gwen Hedley's work sheets which really show how to put together a design story-board.

Right: Ruth Issett Swirling Lines and Dots with detail below.
Below: Gwen Hedley's design board on beach shoes.
Bottom left: Jenny Blackburn Tinkering with Tailoring I.
Bottom right: Alison King Flying Chinese Doll.

Not What It Seams: Further Thoughts
June 18th - July 30th 2005
Bankfield Museum, and Gallery, Halifax, Yorkshire

Ruth Issett
Gwen Hedley Ruth Issett
Jenny Blackburn Alison King
Audrey Walker

One of the highlights for me was the chance to see new work by Audrey Walker. This much-looked-forward-to opportunity did not disappoint. Audrey was in floral mode and the combination of the flowers with the powerful images evoked questions as to the thoughts and situations of the figures portrayed. There is often a curtain suggesting hidden meanings and concealment. Wonderfully produced, as ever, and a great joy.

Audrey Walker Say
Audrey Walker Stop
Audrey Walker Drawing Audrey Walker Hidden
Richard Box

A 40-year retrospective of the embroiderer Richard Box gave insights, not only into Richard's work but into the way our tastes and our stitching have changed over the years. I have always been a fan of Richard's early work and the piece shown below, Judgment of Paris has long been a favourite. It is interesting to note that Richard is returning to his classical theme with his art nouveau-style depiction of Greek gods.

Richard Box
East Anglian Stitched Textiles (E.A.S.T.)

EAST's 'Spirit of the Cloth' exhibition reflected the high standards we have come to expect from them. The East Anglian Stitched Textiles group work with Anthea Godfrey, their mentor, to allow the fourteen members to push forward their individual work. This results in a rich diversity of images which all came together in this excellent display.


Work shown: above Yvonne Pedretti, right Anne Norton, below Margaret Talbot.

Creative Link - Fibre Art from British Columbia

Grace Barrand Design Centre, Nutfield, Surrey, UK
28th August-23 October 2004

This exhibition showed work from stitchers who live in British Columbia, Canada, and is the first part of an exhibition exchange. Next year, the Grace Barrand Design Centre will curate an exhibition of artists from the United Kingdom whose work will be shown at the Foxglove Fibre Arts Studio by the harbour in Vancouver. Some of the artists are known to us - some are new. I have long enjoyed Jane Kenyon's work (below left) and it was good to see her pieces in the flesh. The weaving from Mary Bentley, Kaija Rautaianen and Ruth Scheuing was most impressive. Lesley Richmond's use of puff paint in her lace series was very imaginative. For me, the star was Eleanor Hannan who teaches design at Capilano College. Her machine embroidery skills are second to none and her thoughtful, narrative work was inspirational. The pieces shown below right and at the bottom are from her 'Lunch' series, 23 postcard-sized machine embroideries in storyboard sequence. These were just fantastic.


Committed to Cloth

Chequer Mead Art Centre, East Grinstead, West Sussex, UK
25 October - 11 November 2004

Committed to Cloth is based on the partnership of Leslie Morgan and Claire Benn. The aim is to raise the profile of textiles, especially with regard to teaching. They were involved in bringing Jane Dunnewold to the UK for the Festival of Quilts (see above). Their exhibition at the Knitting & Stitching Show was quite outstanding and I wanted to include all of it. However, when we visited the Chequer Mead Art Centre, it had grown somewhat and was even better. It had a real international flavour. Of particular note was 'Mimiquilt VII - Walking down the Catwalk', a piece by Mirjam Pett-Jacobs from the Netherlands (below right) which was a protest against the use of animal fur on the catwalk. Laura Kemshall's work is always great and her two Salt Mine pieces (one shown below left) were particularly fine. Jae Maries' 'Parallel' was, as usual, brilliant work with an interesting theme of parallel lives. Full piece and detail below (middle). A new name to me, Prinkie Roberts, produced 'Holding Space' (pic at the bottom). Working spontaneously with fabric collage, she captured the sense of refugee camps. I have ambiguous feelings about disaster-inspired art but this piece was finely judged in making its point. This was an exhibition with themes to make you think, where the technical excellence matched the ideas.


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