Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Craft & Quilt Fair, Darling Harbour

Darling Harbour was fascinating, as always. An amazing array of 400+quilts, at an incredible standard of work. The prizewinning quilts can be seen on the guild website, as always - they are very prompt at getting up a virtual quilt show of the winning quilts. The best of show, Rings and Roses, is a real show-stopper - a Double Wedding Ring quilt with a sort of colourwash effect in the rings, hand pieced and appliqued, hand quilted with trapunto. I have never seen so many ribbons on the show winner! The Narelle Grieve Award for Excellence in Amateur Hand Quilting, Best Traditional Hand Quilted, judge Kay Haerland's personal choice and the Hangers' Prize.

It was pushed to second in the Viewers' Choice by a very powerful quilt, Soldier On by Lucy Carroll, which also won first prize for a Pictorial Quilt. made in support of a military charity, it shows a wall of poppies leading to a doorway through which two soldiers are disappearing into the light. A remarkable piece of work.

The other prize winning quilts are also very special. One that spoke to me was Flower Songs II, by Eileen Campbell. There's so much to say about this quilt, as there usually is about really great quilts. I was struck by the way she didn't use a dark background on the upper right hand flowers, as a less experienced quilter (like me!) might have done. I liked the way she unified the three flower motifs with the delicate chain of flowers meandering across the face of the quilt, in a way that looked accidental, not overplanned. And I especially liked the quilting, which, in between the flowers, was detailed, exquisite renditions of flowers and butterflies, with very judicious use of coloured thread. It left me gobsmacked.

Among other quilts that appealed to me was In a Crazy Flap by Rae Cashman, machine quilted by Jo-Ann Phillips, which was a redwork quilt using images of flappers from the 1920s. Beautifully done and a lot of fun! Helen Godden's Zen Magpies also blew me away. I must admit to being a secret Helen groupie - I don't think I've ever seen a quilt by her that I didn't love. Two magpies, one in full song, gaze into the sky, which was rendered in a huge swirl of quilted patterns. My catalogue tells me she used more than a 100 different designs. It really has a sense of joy about it.

And I liked The Pleasure of Piecing, by Mercedes Forbes, machine quilted by Sue Rowles. It was inspired by a quilt in the Powerhouse Museum collection, I suspect possibly these blocks in an unfinished quilt. The Powerhouse also has these similar blocks. Mercedes' colour choices were a little softer and I think she used the same fabric, or similar fabrics, in the triangles where the block sashing meets. I liked her colour choices and I liked the block, which seems to be a colour variation of #264 in Brackman's Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns, with the sashing as an extra feature. The block was called, somewhat unimaginatively, The Pinwheel, in the Kansas City Star, where it appeared in 1934, a century after the Powerhouse blocks were made.

It was pretty obvious that the trend to reproduction quilts has not really waned yet, though it was interesting to see quite a few pieced quilts in what could be called "country colours", that wouldn't have been out of place in a quilt show fifteen years ago. There were also some quilts in the "modern quilt" aesthetic - very light or white backgrounds, with greyed colour tones in the distinctive colourways. It's always interesting to watch these changing ideas in the quilting world, as new concepts about quilting are added to the quilters' lexicon.

You may remember that I was also involved in the ATASDA exhibition and sale. The display looked great and generated a lot of positive comments from people, especially about the "industrial" theme, with gave a modern and little bit edgy feel to the textile works on display. I manned the stand on Thursday afternoon, chatting to people who came through. It was a lot of fun. Some of my dyed socks and scarves sold too, which was a bonus.

I felt that, overall, the show numbers were down during the week, compared to past years. It will be interesting to see how things go next year, in a different venue.

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