This is retrospective post – for some reason looking back I had not blogged about the Quilt and Stitch Village show at Uttoxeter in April despite having an entry myself.
This show is a relatively small quilting and embroidery show held at the racecourse in Uttoxeter, Staffordshire in April but one that I do hope continues for many years – there are not many quilting shows in the Derbyshire/Staffordshire region and it is nice to have a local one through which you can dip your toe in the water exhibiting wise and also meet like minded people and groups. My only disappointment was that the show has reduced in size with regards to traders and exhibitors over the last couple of years and you can only that this can be rectified.
I have selected 15 photos to attempt to demonstrate the wide variety of quilts and embroidered works and also the ones that personally stood out for me.
My first photo is of Japanese Fandango by Anne Gosling – this was apparently her own interpretation of a ghost. Ms Gosling has used layers of net over a variety of Japanese symbols applied using Markel paint-sticks. For me this quilt was less about the interpretation and more about the simplicity of the colour palette which is so representative of Japanese culture (the red and white being the colours of the Japanese flag) and also about the deceptively simple design … the symbols and fans are clear and do not crowd each other and I feel it is very linear both in terms of the clear lines of the design and also the vertical composition. This was my personal favourite.
The second quilt I chose is titled Floral Impressions – another by Anne Gosling. This quilt was awarded Viewers Choice by the public and rightly so because it is done completely by hand from the applique to the hand quilting and had to be seen to be believed. The actual quilt was a Block of the Month project by Deborah Kemball and it reminds me of the American Baltimore Album quilts which I would really love to do but the considerable skill and length of time is a little daunting. The thing that struck me most about this quilt was the delicate use of pastel colour – it is exquisitely pretty to view and every single prairie point on the border is perfectly done. The design when broken down into the blocks is still quite complex and creates a very ‘busy’ overall result which keeps drawing you back to view again as you see something different each time. The hand quilting was worth seeing alone – I am fully aware just how difficult it is to get tiny even stitches and have tried to master this technique but as yet to no avail.
The third image is of a quilt by Mrs P Underwood and is titled One Lump or Two – this is another Block of the Month quilt and I just loved it for its sense of fun and also wonderful use of bright, vibrant colour! Each teapot is slightly different with what appears to be a colour palette or least is an impression of one by the side of each teapot.
Each year this show has a special theme category for both the quilters and embroiders with this years theme being Inspired by Nature and one of the joys of the show is seeing the different interpretations.
The quilt seen on the left was made by Margaret Pratt and is titled The Invader and was based on the Giant Hogweed which is causing such an issue in our countryside. The hogweed was created using a Thermofax screen printed on hand-dyed fabric with some paint and beads added before being free machine quilted. I loved the delicacy of this piece – unlike the plant itself it was not ‘in your face’ regarding colour or design but used delicate muted tones which blended without loosing the linear quality of the print or the shapes created and was very much in keeping with the hedgerows and banks where this invader is seen. The addition of the beads added another delicate element – a little sparkle and impression of a third dimension but avoiding an over-embellished finished result. As can be seen the quilt was awarded second within its category.
The overall winner of the quilting category and show winner was by Ms Anne L Beaumount and titled Ornithological Oddesy. Ms Beaumont was inspired by the appliqued birds created by a lady named Pamela Armstrong and is all hand appliqued and hand quilted. I also feel there is perhaps an element of the celtic quilts designed by Philomena Durcan – I recognise the element through owning two of Ms Durcan’s books and the edges of the blocks are very much in her style. The intricacy of the appliqued birds and different elements was incredibly beautifully done but also not overdone – it would have been so easy to over-crowd this quilt but Ms Beaumont is clearly skilled in restraint and I wonder if she took elements out when designing it or added in additional elements during the making of the piece. The colour palette is quite varied by the pale green of the borders and white of the background prevents the quilt from looking too bright whilst really emphasizing the birds and the applique vines/twigs.
Secrets of the City by Frieda Oxenham was entered into the Innovative Quilt Category and was a combination of machine piecing and quilting with additional hand quilting and applique and also hand embellishment with collaged squares and beading and was awarded second in the category.
I particularly liked the muted and toned down colour palette of the buildings which contrasts with the brighter ‘windows’ which were heavily embellished with the above mentioned beads. This quilt for me has a simple narrative which is instantly recognisable without the need for further explanation.
There were of course many more entries into the quilting categories with a variety of techniques encompassing the modern to the traditional and many were a combination. Personally I am finding the quilts that really appeal now are the art quilts or those that take inspiration from artists such as this Diptych: Inspired by Klimt piece by Ms Eleanor Marsden. Ms Marsden has chosen fabrics which directly remind her of Klimt’s palette and works and surrounded the different applique elements with gold edging before heavily the background. I like the fact that this diptych is abstract in design but is also recognisable without the need for narrative as being Klimt inspired if you know any of his works. The background colour really picks up on colours in the fabrics and the blue complements the orange perfectly and adds that pop of colour to bring the quilt to life.
Moving into the embroidery exhibition and entries I was surprised by how much more intrigued I was – I feel I am moving away a little from quilting and more towards stitch with regards to innovative use and embroidery.
The bag on the left was part of the All Dimensions textile group and was based on the Inspired by Nature theme of the show. I love the really textural feel of this bag which immediately reminds me of a woodland floor or the moss and vines that grow over old tree trunks – the maker, (whose name I was not able to catch but I do have full permission to post this photo), has really captured the wide variety of greens and the aforesaid textures of nature whilst keeping the bag design very simple in shape.
The whole display of the All Dimensions Group gave a real sense of the different styles and interpretations of the theme by each member of the group with each member using a variety of techniques to create three-dimensional objects such as bags or cushions through to embroidered or printed fabric wall hangings.
One of my favourite pieces in the embroidery exhibition was this embroidery of Jacqueline the Jacobean Snail in the Garden by a Ms Susan Ward. The actual design was by Helen L Stevens who is a graduate of the Royal School of Needlework and is done using traditional Japanese crewelwork. I am a huge lover of Jacobean style embroidery, crewel work or applique and have a chair in my own house made by my late mother using embroidery threads so this particular piece was instantly appealing. I do love the colours used and the exaggerated leaves and flowers which throw the ‘normal’ colour palette out of the window – the style is extravagant and rich in its execution and Ms Ward has really done it justice and not surprisingly was awarded third place in the Traditional Embroidery Category.
In the Innovative Category the first place went to this piece which was not titled but based on a derelict greenhouse. The maker, Ms Julie Rowe, used a combination of mixed media techniques including stitched, burned and bonded fabrics with acrylic paint and wood. I am now currently working on a theme regarding Beauty from Decay and this now appeals even more than it did at the time – the simple inspiration of an old greenhouse caught in a moment in time with the delicacy of a spiders web added to curved bracket really makes me want to consider not an overall picture but just a snippet or corner of an image as a design in itself. The combination of media was fascinating to see at this stage in my studies and like many of the pieces in this part of the show I spent a considerable time looking at the different elements that were used to create this work.
One of the displayed that caught my eye was this one titled Do Not Disturb (women at work) and was by by Judith Burnett, Liz Duck, Francine Wilkins and Julie Wilkinson. This display was a variety of small textile pieces based on textile words in much the same way as some of my exercises in my coursework have been inspired by adjectives or verbs – each piece accurately depicted the word or words intended and individual titles were not needed.
I have realised going through my photographs I am drawn to the narrative quilts and embroideries that tell a story without the need for a title – it almost feels that if you need the title then the message or narrative is not clear enough but on the other hand sometimes it is good to look for the story rather than it being obvious!
My penultimate choice of photograph is this piece titled Flow by Ms Mary Smith and created by trapping wool tops between watersoluable fabric and combining hand and machine stitching and couched threads. The resulting textile art really gives an impression of flowing water or detritus as it flows or whirls around when caught at the edge of a river. The simple and restrained colour palette I note in particular due to the muted tones which encompass a variety of shades from light to dark to really bring the piece to life – the restraint and restriction also extends to the stitching which although seemingly quite heavy is not overdone so that the texture of the wooltops themselves are lost but rather the textures created by the threads and patterns created enhance and bring harmony to the piece.
My final choice of textile work is this piece titled Sakura (cherry blossom) by Anne Watts who is part of the Ecletica textile group. Ms Watts used a deconstructed kimono which due to the fact that kimonos are made of 14 inch wide panels have variations in tone across the fabric due to the differing areas which are exposed and she enhanced this by using a wax resist to over dye before scrunching up and dyeing again before finally using the Sashiko stitch to embroider traditional Sakura blossoms.
As I think is obvious by my first and last choice I love all Japanese fabrics, stitch techniques and designs and hence this piece was immediately appealing although in part due to its techniques and in part just due to the simplicity of the blossoms which stand out against the indigo background fabric.
I literally have countless other photographs of this show – I went back a second day for a further look and there is no doubt that the variety of techniques was inspiring but I am being drawn to those using mixed media due to the breaking with traditional techniques or maybe less with the breaking of traditional techniques but more to do with breaking of traditional rules of the quilting and embroidery world.
As I stated at the beginning of this blog I do hope this show does continue although I cannot help feel that something needs to change in order to attract more exhibitors, more traders and more groups to survive. I for one will be back next year – the theme is Fantasy and I simply cannot resist although at the present time I have yet to work out a design and whether I will enter the embroidery section or the quilting (or maybe both for the first time!)