Quilts – old & new
This post is for Alphabe-Thursday over at Jenny Matlock’s wonderful blog. Today’s letter is Q.
What, if anything, does the phrase ‘patchwork quilt’ bring to mind?- Grandma? School needlework lessons? Childhood bed covers? Women’s Institute? A recent visit to the exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London showed they were all these things but so much more!
The exhibition, spanning 1700 – 2010 opened with beautiful examples of quilts as we know them. Tessellating patches squares put together to form tumbling blocks, triangles forming magnificent diamonds. My own youthful favourite were hexagonal shapes, here blossoming into beautiful flower designs.
Scraps of material somehow colour matched together to tell a story or make a statement-‘They are repositories of memory’-the publicity tells us. The stories they told were of the great & the good, of battles won & lost. They presented the history of kings, queens & the changing fortunes of industry & commerce. They also told the tales of everyday life, the hardship & joys. This one is an alphabet of love for a newly married couple.
The exhibition detailed the rise & subsequent fall of quilt making as a means of earning a living during periods of economic depression. However, contemporary quilt makers, present patchwork & quilting as art forms which explore ‘uncomfortable truths’ .Below is an amazing piece put together by Grayson Perry, called The Right to Life’ the subject is clear to see.
This one was made of Chinese bank notes called A Chinese Dream (you may be able to see the United Kingdom). This was a political statement of the importance of China to the global trade network.
One quilt that really made an impression was this one made by male inmates of Wandsworth Prison. A short video accompanied the quilt in which the men explained how this traditionally female craft has helped them come to terms with their situation.
This item, details the role that quilting has played in the rehabilitation of those incarcerated with pieces linked to Elizabeth Fry, The Rajah Quilt, the Tenko Quilt
The company that one meets in such an exhibition tells its own story. There was a group of quilters immersed in the handiwork but for one of their members the quilt of triangles could not to be looked at. The story here was that she was in the process of putting together a large quilt all of triangles! I was fascinated eavesdropping on the detailed conversations that peppered the exhibition of women looking at the stitchwork, colours & designs who marvelled at the skills shown hoping they could go some way to replicate them carrying on this wonderful craft.
Are you a quilter? Do you follow a craft that goes back in time?