The Festival of Quilts in Birmingham 2013: Part 1 IMG_2122 - A member of the Quilters Guild, from Glasgow, posed with her embellished bag for me. We ended up talking about upcycling and Walthamstow's fabulous designers Queenie & Ted.... Full view

The Festival of Quilts in Birmingham 2013: Part 1

If you follow us on Facebook or Twitter you may have clocked that I (Catherine) went to the International Festival of Quilts last week. I was pleased to be offered a press pass and felt a duty to share my excitement about my annual pilgrimage to the NEC in a somewhat running commentary. Nonetheless, I have saved many photos for here (I took around 200 total!) to accompany a more thoughtful reflection on the experience.

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This quilt, on close inspection, chronicles all sorts of very personal moments in the maker’s life. As she describes it, this is a “crazy quilt” approach to the craziness of life.

This annual event fuels my thinking and my creativity–and it sounds a bit silly–but the other people there inspire me. This year, I spent some considerable time (an hour or more!) in conversation with lovely people from Northern Ireland, Australia, and Wales via Kuala Lampur, Kuwait, Peru and Copenhagen.

In the space of our conversations, I learned of bouts with cancer, brain tumours, small business experiences, children, grandchildren, sisters and mothers, home renovations, and real life experience of the Troubles. I also learned exactly how much it costs to make an omelette. (Anne, one of the ladies I met, is a retired Home Ec. teacher.)

I heard about their textile ambitions a bit, but mostly I heard about what inspires them, and how textiles literally improve the “fabric of their lives”.

 

 

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The artist who made this quilt pressed real flowers into her base fabric in order to obtain natural dyes and shapes.

 

I also took in the exhibits of quilts, though in my two days there, simply couldn’t ‘absorb’ it all. In fact there was one exhibit and maker I wanted to see, and I kept getting distracted (by wonderfulnesses!) and never found her or her quilts!

This year there were over 3,000 quilts in the ‘official’ exhibition–i.e. NOT including the quilts made by the magazines, sewing machine companies, fabric sellers, textile designers, or punters (many quilted bags and some patchwork skirts and jackets were spotted, as were other styles of making).

 

 

 

A member of the Quilters Guild, from Glasgow, posed with her embellished bag for me. We ended up talking about upcycling and Walthamstow's fabulous designers Queenie & Ted....
A member of the Quilters’ Guild, from Glasgow, posed with her embellished bag for me. We ended up talking about upcycling and Walthamstow’s fabulous designers Queenie & Ted.

 

 

 

The Festival spans three halls of the NEC, and the hundreds of quilters (and Transformers fans attending a separate event!) were staying at the adjoining Hilton. The Festival features many competitions, exhibitions, workshops, talks, taster sessions, and, of course, sellers. I managed to squeeze in two talks (Have you heard about Linzi Upton’s Quilted Yurt?) and the fashion show, but registered too late to get onto the workshops I wanted. As it was, I had two very full days. I haven’t even told you about the stalls yet (again, more soon).

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The expanse of the third hall shortly before opening on the second day. The quilts and exhibitions were absolutely exceptional–and hugely wide ranging, so I’ve decided they need a separate, dedicated blog post (or two). They have inspired a lot of thinking, imagining, and reflection on social issues, ways of making, community projects, so more thoughts and pictures will come later in the week.
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I managed to catch a shot of a quiet moment in the ‘studio’ where artists demonstrate techniques throughout the Festival. I think there were six or eight stations in the studio.
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I attended a presentation about the Indian quilts (Godharis) by the curator Geeta Khendelwal. The quilts in her exhibition, itself evokative of the Gee’s Bend exhibition I attended at The Whitney museum in NYC years ago, were among my favourites.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Quilters’ Guild of Great Britain–with membership of over 12,000 people–along with a specialist event management company make this event happen, and certainly inspire my quilting year.

Catherine is the founder of Significant Seams. She quilts and crochets, and is trying to limit her other textile interests. Recently, Catherine has been awash in a million and one projects for other people’s babies.

Written by significantseams

1 Comments

  • As one of those Transformer fans, I just want to say how nice it was to meet so many folks from (what we ended up calling) The QuiltCon and that several of us intend to check out the festival when we are again scheduled against each other, next year.

    I just hope we were not too rowdy!

    Reply

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