I didn't know if Jen Jones, founder of the Welsh Quilt Centre, would be there on Friday morning, but she was sitting behind the counter in the shop, so I showed her my version of the Dryslwyn quilt - read more about it here. I've got it tacked now but haven't started the quilting and was hoping the original just might be in the exhibition, but sadly for us, it was sold a long time ago. Jen said she knows who has it and we hope it might be loaned for a future exhibition. I wanted to know what the quilting was like on the original and she confirmed that it was very plain, so I think I will go ahead and quilt this in a very simple zigzag design inspired by the traditional 'waves' pattern, which is a geometric zigzag, rather than a curved design as might be expected. The shop was full of all kinds of interesting things, including bits and pieces of vintage fabrics, trims, books etc. I added a few pieces for one of my 1718 projects.
Upstairs, the quilts are displayed in the former courtroom of the old town hall. The ceiling must be twenty feet high, so it is possible to display pieces hanging in two tiers. The quilt at the top is another old favourite of mine, the red baskets quilt from the Ceredigion Museum in Aberystwyth.
This quilt, like Dryslwyn, is illustrated in Janet Rae's 'Quilts of the British Isles'. It was one of many quilts made from tailors's samples.
The abstract designs made by the repetition of simple shapes and the changes in colour and value gives these quilts an endless fascination for me - the regularity of the shape with the asymmetry of the colour and value. Often this abstract quality is more apparent in photos than when standing in front of the quilt, or when viewing the quilt from a distance. There was plenty of space to stand back and view the quilts from the other end of the room.
This is is from the quilt centre's website -
Starting with a thrifty culture of “mend and make-do”, the quilters of rural Wales unselfconsciously produced brilliant pieces of Folk Art. Using their innate and untrained artistry they would assemble pieces of fabric, often recycled, into lively compositions that could be balanced or quirky, classical or primitive. They might incorporate ancient symbols and images, or everyday items from their lives, chapel, house, animals or people they knew and over all this they quilted ancient patterns; echos from much earlier cultures.
Two of the tailors' sample quilts were stiched with red wool, which made a beautiful counterpoint to the more subdued fabrics.
I love the use of beds to display some of the quilts, something we have tried at Quiltfest in Llangollen, but never having quite as many beds.
What to look at next??
There was a big tub of handling samples too. Some of these pieces illustrated the 'boro' nature of scrap quilts, with layers of old fabrics inside.
The exhibitions continued into the hallway and adjacent rooms, with contemporary work by Janet Bolton and Sandie Lush. This quilt still on the frame was displayed at the top of the stairs.
Photography was allowed without flash and I took so many photos - I will put these in my next post, which will be very heavy on images. It was an inspiration to visit.