30 April 2010

Quilts at the V&A London

Visiting the Quilt’s exhibition at the V&A was a visual treat, a journey through three centuries of quilting demonstrating its relevance to daily life within each era. While there are many aspects of the exhibition that could be commented upon, for me, the two aspects standing out were ‘detail’ and ‘restoration’ of the relation between body, mind and soul.

The works collectively brought home a real need to pause and pay attention to detail. The volume of detail in each quilt demonstrated fabulous feats of craftsmanship. At times, the collective voice of this detail is overwhelming, but in the main, it acts as a reminder of the age-old approaches to creating pattern and textiles where ‘slow’, ‘intimacy’ and ‘narrative’ were greatly valued.

The exhibition also highlighted the importance of quilting to restoring meaning and purpose within communities and individuals. The work of Wandsworth Prison UK stands out in this instance, where quilting is incorporated into prisoner’s rehabilitation. The human value it has was clearly demonstrated. Here the meditative state that the making process nurtures and the introduction to one’s inherent (and sometimes dormant) creativity were key to rehabilitation. Powerful stuff.

This exhibition offered the focus for April’s Friday Night Late event, ‘Stitched Up’, which is my next stop.

However, before closing on the Quilts exhibition, my last word has to go to Natasha Kerr for her work, personally, was the most inspirational in terms of concept and aesthetic sensitivity. The image featured in this blog entry is ‘At the End of the Day’, hanging, Natasha Kerr, 2007. Museum no. T.43-2008.

If you haven’t yet seen Quilts, it’s on until 4th July, 2010.
Curated by Sue Prichard.

22 April 2010

A word from Frances Stevenson - printed textile designer

Colour is the most fundamental part of each printed textile piece that I make, and I use it to provoke an emotional response in the viewer.  The viewers’s sensory engagement with colour provokes a response that delves into their own personal experience but also reflects cultural norms. For example, tangerine still conjures up painted woodchip wallpaper from the 1960’s for me, but at the same time it reflects 60’s culture. I usually avoid using tangerine as a general rule. However the point is that how we feel is often shaped by cultural as well as personal experience.

Cloth is one of the most sensual products that human beings engage with. We wear it every day and have done so all our lives.  ‘We’ have an exceptional sensory knowledge of it and we touch it to understand if it ‘suits’ us. The textiles that I make must satisfy the sense of touch, as there is a universal understanding of weight, drape, comfort and pleasure in cloth products that I seek to combine with the visual sense.

People are fantastic. ‘We’ like to play, show off, talk, make new things and make ourselves look and feel great. I have been bringing these human components together in the participatory craft process. The process gives the public centre stage to design and make their own creations bringing all of their own knowledge and experience into play. This inspires me to create new textile products that can be enjoyed by everyone.

Frances Stevenson, April 2010
New work  currently on show at the Future Craft research exposition in the Matthew Gallery, Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design, Dundee.