Tuesday, March 23, 2010

V&A quilt exhibition

I think I mentioned that I was planning on going to see the Quilt exhibition at the V&A in London. I was invited to the press preview along with many other bloggers, but I was working so I had to pass on that invitation. Fortunately I have  client who was prepared to take me along on her membership. Having seen the coverage in the press I wasn't expecting much from it. I felt that the coverage implied quilting was a dead skill that needed to be recreated. It just isn't true, we could do with more quilters especially more who want to find new ways of using it, but there have always been quilters in the UK. 

There was also a lot of press coverage for modern quilts in the show. Sadly not quilts from quilters. I was aware there would be at least two modern quilts that I would like but for a large high profile exhibition I was hoping for more. There are so many very talented quiltmakers here and I would love their work to be brought to a wider audience. Maybe that has made me less accepting of this show. There are so few chances for the general public to see quilts I desperately wanted this exhibition to show everyone how amazing quilting is. Unrealistic? Certainly.

Although we got to the show quite early in the morning it was already very busy. The first few exhibits were very crowded, fortunately the busiest didn't really grab me. I did love the patchwork bed hangings, which were right by the entrance but attracting a lot less  attraction than the very early cot quilt. The wall hanging was the start of a theme for me. These hangings were made entirely of scallop shapes. This is a shape I love but I know I won't be using it in a quilt. To use well it is a very time consuming shape. Of course a lot of the people who were making quilts had time, and lots of it. The soldiers were often doing while in hospital, and weathier ladies would have been almost trapped in their homes. They may not have had a lot of materials wot work with but they made up for it in time and imaginnation.

I did very much enjoy the older exhibits. I love the irregularity of a lot of them. I think it enhances the patterns. I did come away with a lot of ideas from these quilts. Again I saw a lot of quilting patterns that I use being stitched by hand on these older quilts. We even found a great patern for using up the very small pieces that Lisa has.

Of the new quilts I was really looking forward to Sara Impey's new piece. It delivered exactly as I was hoping. I was also looking forward to the quilt from Fine Cell Work, a prison craft group. My goodness do they live up to their name. The workmanship is fantastic. I really admire what they achieve. Like the older quilts I see the application of time. Much like the wealthy ladies, they have time to fill. I would rather see them achieving something than wasting the time. I hope the prisoners involved also find it helpful, if only to give them a skill they can succeed at.

The photographs are from the cafe. The building is amazing, although when you walk in to the cafe you would never guess these rooms were hiding just around the corner. I had only taken my phone so the pictures aren't great, but they give you some idea of the beauty of the room. I will try and get back and take some good pictures at some point.

Overall I found the exhibition to be a lot better than I had feared. I still feel the exhibition in Bath was more to my taste, but there were a good number of interesting historical quilts at the V&A. I was quite disapointed with the book of the exhibition though. Several of the quilts I really wanted pictures of are only shown in the book as a close up. I would rather have a full picture of every quilt with close ups of some of them. They did have a lovely book of the quilts from the Beamish collection so I did manage to get some retail therapy. I guess I now need to go and visit them next.


Penny said...

It's interesting to see your report, and it's definitely something I'd like to see.

Amo House said...

We're going on the 16th and I'm looking forward to it too. Thank you for not swamping your post with pictures of the quilts and for not concentrating on the ones the press seem to be. Mind you, at least it is pushing the craft out there! Great stuff!