I suspect I am like many other people in finding the invited exhibitions at the Festival of Quilts particularly inspirational. There are always several that give me new ideas and 2011 was no exception. I have now had time to mull over what I saw, even though I chose to take very few photographs. I am very conscious of copyright issues these days so I tend to buy the catalogues rather than take photographs that then sit on the computer and are forgotten. This posting is therefore totally photoless!
I find myself attracted to more abstract quilts so I was very interested in how the statement below might apply to the quilts I saw. It appears in the press release for the Tate St Ives winter exhibition that opens on 8 October.
The contemporary position of abstract painting is problematic. It can be seen to be synonymous with a modernist moment that has long since passed, and ideology which led the medium to stagnate in self-reflexivity and ideas of historical progression. The Indiscipline of Painting (title of the new exhibition) challenges such assumptions. It reveals how painting's modernist histories, languages and positions have continued to provoke ongoing dialogues with contemporary practitioners, even as painting's decline and death has been routinely and erroneously declared.Does this statement, which is initially quite dismissive of abstract work, apply to art quilts I ask myself? I think overall we would say that art quilters continue to engage with contemporary issues and there were several exhibitions at FOQ where I could see this happening. The first was by a Dutch group, TEXUI http://www.texui.nl/Website-T/home-T.htm
The catalogue says that their artwork 'can be characterised as a quest for images expressing deeper layers of the mind...even a matter of aspects of everyday life gives food for reflection, are taken out of its context and given new meaning in a different order'. It goes on to say that the use of experimental techniques and materials is an aspect of this. The pieces they showed ranged from those where the viewer could recognise and identify with the subject matter (Crocodile by Elke Boesewinkel, The Wall by Jacqueline de Jong-van-Balen and Windmill by Willy Doreleijers) to others which were very abstract so that you had to ask yourself how the subject matter related to the title (Human Rights by Hanne Capel, Tape-e-stry by Annette Jeukens and light 2 by Jelly Dijkstra). My favourite, however, was Genesis-'And the Word was...' by Rita Berghuis-Ensing. So I have to ask myself what it is I am responding to. Is it the colour (because of course I am a colour freak), the overall design, or the techniques? How many of us, I wonder, respond instinctively to some combination of these and how many more intellectually to the ideas being expressed? I suggest you go to the website to see more of their work although at the time of writing I could not find a page that had all these pieces on it together.