Tuesday, 21 August 2018

My Festival Of Quilts Experience: Part One

What can I say, I totally underestimated the power and effect of The Festival of Quilts. Even now, I am assessing the impact of going. I imagined a large shopping space with exhibition displays, but it was so much more than that, so much more than other textiles/fabric/stitching shows that I've been to. I travelled by train, about 3 1/2 hour journey, and I could easily spot other FoQ goers by their handmade bags!  I didn't realise that Birmingham International station is physically attached to the NEC- it's a continous internal walkway from the station to the venue, a bit like being in an airport.  The NEC has the usual eating and drinking facilities, toilets etc which are outside the show and with a ticket you can walk inbetween the two so if things get a bit much inside the festival, you go to these areas.  The quickest way to enter is to buy a ticket in advance - the on-the-day-ticket queue is long. There are multiple entry points and I did find the main space inside really tricky to navigate- buying a guide with a map inside was essential. Apparently, the layout is the same each year so next year should be easier!  I began in the shopping zone. As I was only there for the day, I had prepped a list of shops to visit, so I started with Eternal Maker, Linladan and Beyond Measure and had a peep at lots of others on the way.  Then I headed for my main focus: the exhibition quilts. 


This was possibly my favourite exhibition quilt and one of the first I looked at.  I met Cat Haggart who I've known from IG but not met in person and she nudged me towards this one.  Ann Pill, 'Hundreds and Thousands', cotton scraps, 1" finished squares, hand pieced, muslin middle and hand quilted.  I loved the effect of this one from a variety of view point.  When looked at from a distance, its quilting facets shimmered, then close up each print can be seen individually confirming its scrappiness!


In this light section, the dimentional effect of the quilting really shines.  It combines traditional methods, a basic shape and a modern sensibility- great use of colour in all it's varieties. 


This one also blew me away, 'Vintage Rose' by Janette Chilver.  Janette had several quilts in different catergory.  She is a long arm quilter and this quilt was pieced and quilted by her. I loved the tradinal setting, the soft use of a 'rainbow' achieved with hand dyed ombre fabrics (Janette dyed the fabrics) and the whole effect of the completx piecing and detailed quitling. I'm not usually drawn to compled quilting but this really sang for me. 


I recognise this beauty from Instagram, ' Can You See Me Now' by Rebecca Bell, even better in person.


One of the joys of walking around was meeting fellow members of South West Modern Quilt Guild and seeing their quilts.  I've seen both of these at various points of their making journey and it was amazing to see them complete, and on holding their own on display... they both feature ingenious use of bias binding.


'Curled', By Charlie Mankin. Inspired by Dissociazione dal Bordo, 1969  by Franco Grignan.


'Under The Thumb', by Melanie Turbitt, based on her husband's thumbprint.


This is Jo Avery's Month In The Country Sampler from the BOM she designed for Today's Quilter last year.  Jo had multiple quilts in the show and even managed to include my blocks in The Threahdouse Medallion quilt- mine are the cornerstones and the whole quilt was made with blocks that represented the classes Jo, Karen Lewis and I taught- the retreat attendees each received a free pattern!


I found going around the quilt galleries very similar to art gallery visits.  I could go past several and not feel much apart from the appreciation of a fabric, the quilting, the effort of making - no real emotional connection.  Then one would make me stop in my tracks stare, I'd have to go in for a closer look, or stand back and take it in.  Here are a few of those...


Happenstance', by Sarah Hibbert. Inspired by taking Jen Carlton-Bailey's drunkards path class at Quilt Con.

This beauty is 'Hoopla', pieced by Nicky Eglinton and quilted by Trudi Wood. A mammoth size and playful take on the a Double Wedding Ring Quilt.


I loved the simplicity of this next one, 'Retro' by Sophie Zaugg, the straight line quilting was beautifully executed and I love the colour combination. 


Note the two colours of thread, nice touch!


To be honest, as with an art gallery, there was only so much I could truly absorb in a day.  I saw many more that I loved including the exhibition quilts.  More on that in the next post...

12 comments:

  1. The last quilt is by Sophie Zaugg of Luna Quilts blog and I agree a great quilt design. She entered another beautiful quilt called Eclat in the contemporary section which came third. Oh and her blog is in two languages so she has many talents!!!

    One word of caution, I’ve been to FoQ 4 times and although it’s true the layout is broadly the same, it is still in my experience impossible to keep track of where you have been!

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    1. Thank you Jenny, I knew someone must know- I'll correct it! I think it will take me many years to even get vaguely familar with where I've been and where I've yet to go!

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  2. Thank you for sharing the photo’s of those beautiful quilts! I hope to visit the FoQ some time in the future. I’v only heard great stories about it.

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    1. It is an impactful place, and it really needs more than a day to absorb and actually see it all.

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  3. Great post Kerry! Was so interesting to read your experience of the show (and the NEC) as a first time visitor. I've been going to the NEC annually for decades and it's so familiar to me that I never thought about the layout in the halls being confusing, but it's a really good point. I'm also pleased you mentioned how easy it is to get from the train station (and the airport which is also linked via the 'skyrail') to the show - and great for your step count! ;) This is a really good post for anyone thinking about visiting in future years and thanks so much for highlighting my sampler and OUR TTH quilt :) Looking forward to part 2! xx

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    1. Aw, thank you Jo, it has been a real game changer for me acutally going, I feel like I have years to catch up on. It was also interesting walking around with you and seeing you recognise so many different designer's quilts from their previous years exhibits.

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  4. I absolutely understand your reasoning of describing it as an art show/gallery. It is also true that not everything appeals to all of us, while I can appreciate the work that has gone into making things i just don't always like the colour or design. I love the first quilt you showed. x

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    1. That first one was so effective on so many level and the ultimate in simplicity- just squares sewn together by hand!

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  5. Wow - to the many creative quilts and patterns that were presented at this Festival of Quilts! I cannot imagine the time many of these took to design and sew. Though I lean more to the traditional and picture blocks - I can appreciate the many different quilt designs on display here. Thank you for sharing Kerry!

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    1. I lean to a similar style but there was so much variety and the categorisation made me think more deeply about what I like and don't like.

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  6. I am currently cutting 1" squares from my very scrappy scraps so thank you for the inspiration. I go to B'ham NEC a lot on the train for exhibitions and it is so easy to find your way around. Jo x

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