For the past 3 months, I have been working on a very large wall hanging with the intention of submitting it for the Festival Of Quilts, Fine Art Quilt Masters competition. It is a big event in the textile calendar attracting huge visitors to the hundreds of quilts on display, workshops, exhibitions and shopping for craft supplies. It is held every year at the NEC arena in Birmingham and I visited it a few years ago and was impressed by the variety of work on display.
With the great intention of applying and making a quilt for entry for the past few years, I finally found the time to do it. Of course, having an idea to implement is also part of the worry as there has to have a visual impact for a large piece (one side has to be at least 1 metre). I did’t have any set idea in mind as an idea organically changes once you start putting texture, colours and pattern together. I did though plan the top layer of the quilt to be a large cyanotype print but as I washed the fabric out, the print disappeared! Back to the drawing board...
So here it is. "Multiverse" is a large wall hanging completely made from antique and vintage fabrics. The main textile is a 19th century hemp dyed in indigo, worn, patched and mended. Behind the holes and patches, contrasting coloured and pattern fabrics, vintage quilt pieces and Japanese textiles are placed.
Areas of the quilt are heavy stitched by hand to create texture and colour. I have mainly used dyed linen and silk threads with sashiko cotton thread being the bind through the fabric layers. The finished piece is 147cm x 125cm with three main layers. The whole piece is in fact, all hand stitched as I love stitching by hand, but also adds the unique element of human contact. I am not a precise stitcher and would never call myself an embroiderer, but nor am I interested in perfection either!
The striking red that edges round, is from a 19th century quilt backing and the outer fabric is from the edges of a paste-resist 19th century Chinese textile. These wonderful fabrics have a lovely soft worn look that only the passing of time can produce.
The title of the piece, "Multiverse" refers to the hypothesis of alternative universes coexisting with our own. The swatches of colour, pattern and densely stitched areas represent the different time dimensions. The constant renewal of materials whether it be molecules, gasses or fabrics is a source for exploration and the “boro” ideology is an excellent example of reusing textiles to this effect.
I am thrilled to say that it has been shortlisted with 22 other amazing quilts for the Fine Art Quilt Master competition with the winner being announced on the 8th August after the judges have seen the quilts. They will then be on show at a special gallery within the exhibition hall from the 9-12th August. I will be visiting the Quilt Festival myself and will post some photos of it in situ in a later post.