Monday, 29 August 2011

Festival of Quilts and Abstract Art 2: SAQA

The second exhibition that inspired me was Beyond Comfort by SAQA.   I have to say that I had an advantage here as I did two sessions on the stand and this meant I could study the pieces in more detail.  You can see photos of the whole exhibit at
and look at the individual pieces by going to:

I always find the SAQA standing inspiring and this was no exception.  I noticed that lots of people were particularly interested in Kristin La Flamme's three apron shaped quilts about the life of an army wife.  I think the juxtaposition of symbols of traditional women's roles and the use of the apron shape really made you think about the lives these women live.  Here in the south-west, huge numbers of people have careers in the military, especially the navy, and almost every evening our regional news programme has a military related item, often about yet another casualty in Afghanistan. These frequently feature interviews with the women left behind, so I could relate to the images she included as well as the messages she was giving us.

The apron quilts were on the wall behind us as we sat at the table, though, and it was the quilt immediately opposite me that I really had time to study.  This was Sampler Revisited by Joan Sowada and used fabrics she had rusted.  This was a very good example of putting samples together so I was interested to find another quilt by her in the Quilt National 2011 book which I received a couple of days ago.  'Full Measure' is completely different, being a portrait of two girls looking towards the right of the picture and designed to illustrate: 'the female spirit, firmly planted and fully present'.  Together these two pieces illustrate Sowada's versatility but also I think tell the amateur quilter that it is quite acceptable to vary one's style quite dramatically.

Probably one reason I liked it was because I am working on something similar: pieces of rusted fabric combined with samples from an indigo workshop.  Mine is about the same size as Sampler Revisited and seeing something like this in a juried exhibition made me think perhaps mine is not so bad after all!  I should have it finished in a week or so and will then put it on the blog.

On the wall to the left of us was Bad News by Elly van Steenbeek.  This was another abstract piece incorporating unusual materials including a piece of iron and paper.  She suggests that the piece of iron found in a park is a symbol of waste and telling us something about modern life and the environment.  There were also several pieces that were virtually monochromatic.  Working in tones of black and white seems rather popular at the moment and removing colour certainly draws the viewer's attention to other aspects of the design such as line.

So where do these quilts leave us in relation to the statement about abstract art in my previous posting?  I like the idea that contemporary artists have dialogues with concepts and ideas that were expressed by people fifty years ago and I suspect that because quilt art is a newer medium, we probably have plenty more to say.  Talking about these ideas with my husband (not an arty type), however, has also made me think about another question: if you can tell that a piece is, say, a landscape, does that mean it is not abstract?  And does that mean that it is not 'worth' as much as one that addresses thoughts and layers of meaning in the mind.  I don't know.

There were other exhibitions that addressed these issues so I will continue posting about them.

No comments:

Post a Comment