February 21, 2014

Needlework That Tells Stories: Exhibit in England

While searching around for something else, I came across notice of this wonderful exhibition at the Time and Tide Museum (lovely name!) in Yarmouth, Norfolk England.  It's called "Frayed: Textiles on the Edge."  It runs through 2 March 2014.  I'd go if I could!

Here's the theme as expressed by Ruth Battersby-Tooke, the exhibit curator, on the exhibit blog:  "...we have collected people's stories as well as the objects .... that had relevance to the idea of making textiles as a therapeutic art.  Not only an occupational therapy, a meaningful and structured way of busying the hands to still the mind, but also a powerful way to communicate, a creative and expressive way to release an inner voice." (The photo above is from the exhibit blog.)

Since I'm not planning a trip to England any time soon, I've been enjoying the photos on the blog about the exhibit.  Hint - different photos pop into the header bar each time I reload the page.  Also, here is an in-depth article about a couple of pieces in the exhibition.

I find this topic so fascinating.  

I am reminded of a couple of quilts at an early-on quilt exhibit I was lucky enough to see at the Oakland  Museum in 1981.  The exhibit was called "Hearts and Hands", and spawned a classic book and film.  I remember a stunning cluster of quilts made with amazing and unusual deep, smoky blues and purples, glowing against a background of charcoal greys.  Upon reading the accompanying labels, I learned that the quilts had been dipped in black dye by the maker.  In fact, she went through a period of such deep depression that she dyed everything in the house black.  To their credit, her heirs had kept these quilts as a tribute to her and her struggles.  Most powerful.

I am also in mind of a wonderful book and film showing the appliqué and embroidery pictures made by Esther Krinitz, chronicling her childhood memories of her escape during the Holocaust.  The Galleries tab will take you to a page with images of the embroideries.  

Here's a quilt I made when my first child was a toddler.  She was born shortly after both my mother and uncle died.  I really did feel that I was standing at the revolving door between Life and Death.  The quilt expresses transition between these two realms.  It is called "Beginning."  Making it was very healing for me.  More of its story is on my website.  

It has been one of my most notable and successful quilts, and I am sure it has to do with the depth of the feeling and the personal message that inspired it.  In and of itself, it is mostly grey, which is not much of an attention-grabbing color after all.

February 8, 2014

Russia, the Olympics, and Quilts


The outfits of the U.S. snowboarding athletes use a print based on an antique quilt.  While I was peering closely at the snowboard racers on Thursday evening, I noticed a diamond patchwork-like design on their number bibs.  And then, handily, a quilt friend posted an article about that design.  

The "prints" on the diamonds contain references to many, many of the folk art traditions all across Russia.  The design is being used all over the Olympic events, and shows up on the medals as well.

So I began to wonder about the tradition of patchwork in Russia.

Here is the Russian Quilters Association.  Clicking on most of the links will take you to a page with photos to explore.

And the All Russia page shows lots of really wonderful quilts.  I especially love the rendition of Klimt's famous painting "The Kiss".  For some reason I was just imagining the other day how that painting could done in fabric - and poof! - here it is!  I can't find the name of the quilter.

Also, there are lots of cat quilts, which is fun.  There was a specially themed section called, "One Day in the Life of a Cat and Her Friends" at the show which is highlighted.  I especially like this stylized black, white, and brown one called "Family Portrait", by Galena Progonova.

I've always been fond of Russian culture, studied Russian throughout high school, and traveled there as a graduation gift back when it was still part of the USSR.  Also, my anthropology major in college has colored my interest in seeing how quilts and quilting vary around the world.  It's fun to see quilts, especially on the All Russia page, that depict the traditional Russian babushka (which actually means "grandmother", but in English has come to mean her headscarf) and Russian folktales and traditional dress.

I, for one, love to watch the Olympics, even though I'm not a sporty person.  The travelogue segments are the best!  I imagine I'm going to get a lot of embroidering done on my big tablecloth project.  I'll post a status report after the closing ceremony!