Tuesday, 8 August 2017

My life with the Quilters Guild 3: Cornwall


By 2006 when we moved to Cornwall, I had finished my turn on the committee.  I already knew that quilting in Cornwall was pretty traditional so I did not join a local group and I think I only ever went to one area meeting as it was held right at the other end of Cornwall.  Along with other people I made a few attempts to get the Guild to offer something more local for those of us in the far west. But the numbers were too small and travelling times difficult.

At this point I began to play an active role in Contemporary Quilt and enthusiastically did the Journal Quilt project for some years.   I photographed all the quilts as I made them so here are a few examples.  I even made a little book with photos and the explanations we had to supply and took this with me to New Zealand.  It was a really good way of showing people what I had been up to as well as giving me a good record.

In 2008 I made my last trip to New Zealand and this inspired two/  This one of Hahei Beach complete with shells I collected there, is of a beach on the Coromandel Peninsula.  And this one was inspired by the same area but by the colours rather than the forms.  I then did a large version of this and entered it into FOQ.

I have always found the Cornish landscape provides plenty of ideas. I used to walk a lot, take photographs and do some drawing.  Here are a couple of quilts that reflect this interest.

This one is of the bulb fields at the bottom of the hill near here.  Bulb growing was an important industry in these parts.

Other journal quilts had themes related to the coastal scenery

and fishing:

while I also did some inspired by the moors.

 I even had an exhibition with another St Ives person  I put a lot of  journal quilts in this and a couple of larger ones.. I had the journal quilts framed on the advice of a school friend who ran a craft gallery in New Zealand.  I made postcards of them and these sold very well but unfortunately I did not sell any quilts.  I think a lot of this was because English people do not buy textiles.  New Zealanders do.  I still have a number of these quilts and have been giving them away for 'big' birthday presents: fortieths, seventieths etc.

I also attended a couple of CQ summer schools where I did a lot of design work. They involved travelling which is why I did so few but I remember that on one occasion I stopped to buy lunch in, I think, Wolverhampton and got absolutely drowned getting from the car park to the bakery.  I had to change my clothes before I continued the journey and was glad I had a suitcase of stuff with me.  After a number of years these Summer School are becoming confused with workshops I did at Cowslip so I do not have any photographs.

I stopped doing Journal Quilts when one senior member of the group said I should work bigger.  It was true that I had explored a lot of techniques. and I did make one or two larger ones. Then I was diagnosed with a rare condition called Inclusion Body Myositis which has been called ‘Alzheimers of the muscles’.  It meant I had to stop driving about three years ago which meant I could not get to any Guild events nor to the Festival of Quilts. I also had to give up walking and that was what had inspired much of my work.  

However, I keep up my membership of the Guild as I regard it as a donation to charity.  It is good to read about new trends and general quilting activities but I have to agree with the statement in the latest issue of The Quilter about ageing volunteers as I have always been the 'median' age of the membership, i.e. it has got older as I have got older.  I know this is happening to a lot of organisations that rely on volunteers to run them.  People's ways of life change and these days with most women working and changing patterns of leisure I can see why people do not join organisations like they used to.  I know the Women's Institute has had a new lease of life and I was interested to read that the Guild is now questioning whether it should still have an AGM that runs over a complete weekend.  I am sure the Guild will continue and I think that the emergence of special interest groups is definitely the way to go.

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