Thursday, 18 March 2010

V and A Quilts exhibition - photos

I'm still winding down from yesterday at the V & A (and today's workshop, which is going in my next post).

Since there will be a ton of reviews out there, I'm going to mostly put photos here, plus the exhibition website is here.

The exhibits I found most interesting were the earlier quilts rather than the contemporary pieces. For those of us who attend a lot of national and international quilt shows, the contemporary work has perhaps less impact than for visitors who aren't aware of this facet of the quilting world. I was pleased to find that, alongside the headline grabbing names (Tracey Emin, Grayson Perry), some contemporary quilters from the "real" quilting world (like Pauline Burbidge) were included - but when we can see entire collections of contemporary work at Festival of Quilts, by some of the best modern makers, these quilts at the V & A can't quite compete for attention with some of the extraordinary antique works from the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in particular, some of which are being shown for the first time.

The first piece to greet the visitor is this - a faubuous set of eighteenth century bed drapes, displayed like this for the first time (photos courtesy of the V & A - very large image) -

I was delighted to see that the V & A had gone with this option for display (and of course, the last piece in the exhibition are Tracey Emin's bed drapes). The curator's blog covered the debate about these hangings just over a year ago. I posted a comment, which concluded -

Two of the great disadvantages IMHO at many quilt exhibitions and certainly contemporary competitive shows is that space & funds constraints rarely enable any of the bedquilts to be displayed as on a bed, so the placement of the elements of the design don't necessarily work as they are/were intended to do. Having the opportunity to do something more adventurous in display is one area where the V & A exhibitions usually excel.

Standing right next to these drapes while curator Sue Prichard gave an introductory talk was to be in the presence of an amazing set of patchworks. I spotted at least one clamshell which has been pieced, with a strip about 1/4in wide along the clamshell's curve, the fabric print matched perfectly (if you go, see if you can find it - it is on the bottom corner drape, on your left as you face the bed and on the side of the bed, about four feet up - it is a pinky red floral print on white). The array of fabrics in these hangings is endlessly fascinating, including some polka dots - pinky red on white - as well as a kaleidoscope of patterns and colours.

Oh, alright then, this is the pieced clamshell (detail from one of Sally Bramald's photos). Can you just about make out the horizontal line under the lower three flowers?

Rather than overload this post with a lot of high resolution images, which can't really do justice to the quilts and patchworks, here are some images of other displays, including wholecloths displayed within wooden surrounds reminiscent of quilting frames -

More quilts displayed within "bedrooms" -

The Rajah quilt (photo courtesy of the V & A) -

I'll add more short posts on different aspects of the exhibition over the next few days, as I'm still pretty tired and have a lot of other work to catch up on.

The blogger's preview was like a who's who of part of the current quilting world!

There is a special shop for the exhibition, featuring the fabric range reproduced from some of the exhibits -

- and some books...

More soon!


Mandy said...

Thanks so much for posting this, Sue. I am planning to go to the exhibition myself soon. I'm looking forward to seeing it all for myself.

Anonymous said...

Thankyou for going to so much trouble to show us the photos, when you must be a bit tired and overwhelmed. This quilter in France is very grateful.