Friday, 28 May 2010

Quilts 1700-2010 at the V&A

Ann West's Quilt from the V&A exhibitionI had a wonderful time in London last weekend - and have been trying to catch up with myself every since which is why I haven't updated recently.

Quilt exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum was an absolute joy - I spent a good couple of hours having a look at the wonderful quilts that they have collected together. The only down side was the poor quality of the information provided alongside the pieces - I assume that was an attempt to encourage you to buy the book linked to the exhibition... I would have loved to read more information about the practicalities of putting together quilts, but that was sadly lacking. However, the quality of the items on display more than made up for that.

I could probably go on at length about almost ever piece in the exhibition, but as I don't have any photographs (not allowed) I'll just mention my favourite piece a coverlet (i.e. it is not wadded) created in 1820 by Ann West, who it seems, was probably a tailor in the Somerset area. It is created on a wool background with masses of wool applique and is a very early example of this kind of work as well as being the only known example of work like this created by a woman (they were often created by male tailors to advertise their work).

Detail from Ann West quiltThe pieces of fabric have been manipulated and sewn so that the pictures she has made are incredibly textured, full of life and absolutely captivating. She has intertwined biblical scene and every day domestic vignettes - the central panel is a well loved biblical image of Adam naming the animals - the animals pictured include a squirrel, a robin, a goose, a peacock, a hedgehog, a turkey and a monkey, and the whole thing is adorned with very modern-looking wool flowers. In this detail you can see a little band of performers and street sellers - one playing a little violin, and others with masks. I have thought about this coverlet loads since I saw it - and always with a smile. Can you believe that it was discovered a few years ago, folded in a trunk in someone's garage. The owner used the money he got from its sale to fund a trip to the Football World Cup!

Since I've been home I've been working on my Facebook Store, putting the final touches for a VW Campervan ATC for a swap, and working on my design for a wallet, as well as trying to get our garden into some kind of order. It's been such a cold winter and spring, but with the recent warmer weather all the plants of gone completely crazy, trying to make up for lost time! It's lovely to be out there though - I don't think I'll be working on any huge quilts any time soon - definitely a winter activity.


Vonnie said...

I'm really looking forward to seeing the exhibition although that's quite disappointing regarding the no photography rule. Booo.

Can't wait to see your ATC! I've just discovered them (and inchies!) so I'm dying to see what you've made :D

gtlady said...

So jealous, I'd have loved to have gone, especially at the V & A, Its my absolute favourite, I love the embroidery bit the best, or the costume, or the jewellery...
Looking forward to seeing how its inspired your work!

Anonymous said...

I am planning to go for some time but still no time, I think now I just go not saying nothing to anyone and see it :]