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2QAQ: What is an Art Quilt?

What is an Art Quilt???
From Lajla Nystad,the current Curator of State of the Art exhibition.
On display is SotA17 – it’ll be at the Redlands Quilt Extravaganza. Each year we ask and hope that some of you will decide to enter one of your art quilts and have the great experience of seeing your work in an Art Gallery. It’s great to see that we do have first time entrants each year. I’m going to run through a little of the history of SotA.
In 2007, the President of 2Q, Kate Oszko, noted that Qld Quilters Inc was not supporting art quilters and suggested the formation of a group to do so, should there be anyone interested in forming such a group. Sue Dennis stepped up and with the help of 4 or 5 others formulated the plan for 2QAQ. One of the priorities of the new 2QAQ group was to raise the level of professionalism in art quilting by creating a prestigious, juried exhibition, open to all QQ members, and thus SotAq had its first exhibition in 2009.
The exhibition has toured throughout South-East Qld – galleries in Childers, Boonah, Crows Nest, Warwick, Chinchilla, Gatton have all exhibited Qld Quilters’ work. It’s also been displayed at Australasian Quilt Convention, Melbourne, the now defunct Textile Art Festival, Brisbane and some works went to Alaska one year in an exchange with Art Quilters there. 2018 will see the 10th Exhibition of SotA – something that Qld Quilters’ membership can be proud of.
This year’s exhibition will be travelling to Miles in south-west Qld in January, a new venue and one gallery that supports textile art. We are constantly looking at galleries, applying to have our exhibition hung and hope that the current director of that Gallery may embrace our art form.
From Chris Jones, 2QAQ Coordinator: What is an Art Quilt?
How do you define an Art Quilt? I have consulted a few different oracles & this is what I’ve come up with –

  • Wikipedia (the font of all knowledge) says:
    “ Quilt Art, sometimes known as art quilting, mixed media art quilts or fibre art quilts, is an art form that uses both modern and traditional quilting techniques to create art objects. Practitioners of quilt art create it based on their experiences, imagery and ideas rather than traditional patterns.”
  • The Art Quilt Association (USA) defines it as: “An art quilt is an original exploration of a concept or idea rather than handing down of a “pattern”. It experiments with textile manipulation, colour, texture and/or a diversity of mixed media. An Art Quilt often pushes quilt world boundaries”.
  • Studio Art Quilt Associates Inc (SAQA) is an international organisation with 3,400+ membership. They define an art quilt as “a creative work that is layered and stitched or references this form of stitched layered structure.”
    State of the Art Quilt Conditions of Entry define an Art Quilt for our exhibition as: “a fibre or mixed media piece of 2 layers or more held together in some way. The finished piece needs to be identifiable as a quilt”.
    So, you can see, there is not just one definition.

The maker defines whether it’s an Art Quilt – as long as the criteria for the ‘competition’ are met. Like all art – the beauty is in the eye of the beholder. How many times have you gone to an Art Gallery & wondered “how they could possibly class THAT as art!”
Art Quilts cover all aspects – landscapes, portraiture, graphic, abstract, modernist etc etc etc. You can use traditional piecing, blocks with your take on the tradition. Some modern quilts are a really good example of genres crossing the boundaries.
Like any quilt show or competition or juried exhibition, the conditions of entry must be taken in to account when you enter your piece. SotA’s definition has been kept relatively simple. There are size limits, no theme and it must be solely one artist’s work. The Juror has a very important role in the process as you’ve heard (will hear) from Sue.
When I entered the world of art quilting – and I have no art experience whatsoever – I went to the 2Q Library, found books on art quilts, looked through magazines and defined my own idea of what an art quilt was. Today it’s so easy to find inspiration and ideas – just ‘google’ your theme, idea, a word, art quilts & you’ll be spoilt for choice. I went along to 2QAQ meetings, watched, participated and learned and I took a chance and entered SoTA in 2009 and was absolutely over the moon to be selected for the very first exhibition. I have suffered rejection since – a couple of times – & in case, you’re wondering, the counselling is going really well!
Come along to a 2QAQ meeting and you’ll be surprised at what you’ll learn. I’ve heard comments that coming to these meetings has even helped in the planning of traditional quilts. We are so fortunate in Qld Quilters to have available to the membership – a wonderful choice of magazines and books catering to all tastes and even more importantly – our special interest groups where we can learn so much more about our art. I’d encourage anyone who makes an art quilt – to enter SotA, 2Q Show – art section (of course), national & international competitions – you never know where it will lead you on your quilting journey.

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State of the Arts Quilts 2017 – the Jurying Process

Jurying quilts for a travelling exhibition is an interesting and challenging task – previously I have judged for QQ; various affiliated groups and the Redcliffe Show. There is a difference between judging and jurying, and some overlaps too. When judging quilts, we are looking for excellence in all aspects of the work, and we are choosing the most outstanding pieces in order, i.e the best and the runners-up. With jurying for an exhibition, one must consider, naturally, those things but more importantly one is also looking at how the quilts will present as a whole, and how they will best reflect the intent of the exhibition – in this case, a comprehensive representation of 2QAQ work.
The mechanics of the process is fairly straightforward. The photos of the quilts, a detail of each along with an artist statement reflecting the artist’s intent and ideas to accompany each photo, were loaded on to a USB stick and posted to me. From the photos and statements my role was to choose suitable artworks that would showcase the work being produced by Queensland Quilters Art Quilters; works that would sit together well, showing artistic styles, techniques, originality, workmanship and diversity of subject. This was no easy task, and took time, believe me!
Photographs: Assessing work from photos is always going to be somewhat difficult, given that photos don’t always show the work in the best possible way unless photographed by a professional, so here is an important aspect – when entering, ensure that your photos are of the very best quality – we do need to enlarge the images to get a decent idea of the work, the colour needs to be true, without distortion or angulation, and the details must be sharp and clear. If they are well focused and well exposed, it makes the juror’s task so much easier. If you have difficulty achieving this, ask a photo minded friend to help out, or alternatively consider seeking professional help.
Here are some links for more information about photographing your work.
Textile Fibre Forum magazine: Photography for Textile Artists by Michael Jenkins Issue No 121, March 2016
www.textileartist.org/how-to-photograph-textile-art/ this article is short and to the point with an excellent short video accompanying it.
My notes on Reddy Arts Textile Group’s blog: go to https://reddyarts.wordpress.com/ and click on “Photographing Your Work” in the drop down list which appears if you hover the mouse over “Useful Info”.

Your artist statements are important – consider carefully what you write and how you write it – not merely for the jurying process, as this statement is also used as a reference point for the viewers of your work. There were techniques and materials listed for each quilt which is also very helpful and possibly essential to know when we only have a selection of photos from which to choose. These – the artist statements and techniques – are usually posted next to the work when it is on exhibition, and it is worth considering providing a comprehensive list, when the work is going to be viewed by other quilters or textile artists. Art galleries on the other hand usually restrict the listings and statements to a word limit; sometimes the best we can do is say “textile” or “mixed media”. So it is worth noting these points if you are ever planning to exhibit your work as a body in an art gallery in the future.

So, the crucial question for you, I guess, is how do we decide which art quilts will be accepted?
This might be best answered in a dot point list of questions a juror might ask:
• What is the artwork saying and what is the artist’s intent? What does it say to me? Does this match what the artist is saying in the statement? Does that matter if it isn’t? Does it evoke an emotional or thoughtful response ..?

• How important is technical skill?
Paying attention to technical skills and design factors helps to keep the perspective and objectivity on track – and also need to be considered in conjunction with the emotiveness of the piece as these often contribute to its success.

• How important is the finish and presentation? These should be in keeping with the style of the quilt. I would like to see more of our textile works framed as this final presentation method really adds professionalism to the work – it adds value and enhances the work enormously, and helps our chosen medium be more accepted in the art world at large, being presented as art rather than as craft. It is more likely to be accepted in art galleries, and has the added bonus of protecting the art from insect infestations, dust, mould and general fading and deterioration of fibres due to exposure to light.

• What is the intent of the exhibition? This is a comprehensive representation of Queensland Quilters Art Quilts, showcasing the work of QQ art quilters, and as such needs to have a variety of skills and styles within it, showing different techniques and methods, and therefore we need to choose a variety of quilts that will work well together to successfully convey this.

• Are the decisions subjective or objective? When one looks at art, there is an initial response, – we call it initial impact – and this can influence how we view and think about the artwork. There is frequently an emotional response – the thoughts and feelings instigated by viewing the work – and often there is less emphasis on draughtsmanship and execution, which we in the quilting world tend to pay attention to– maybe we need to loosen up more when it comes to art quilting! So no matter how much we try to be objective, there will be a degree of personal response to the work that influences our choices… This doesn’t necessarily mean that I will only choose the work I like, but that hopefully I will choose work that evokes a thoughtful or emotional response. We remember some work better than others, and for varying reasons. It may be that we love the colour composition, or the draughtsmanship, or the attention to detail, or the emotional reaction. Either way, if we remember and think about and discuss the work, I believe it is a successful artwork. Different art works will evoke stronger responses in some individuals than in others, and that’s fine. As a juror, I think that looking at the design principles and elements eg composition, colour, balance, unity, etc contribute to being able to make a more objective decision. Likewise with workmanship, attention to detail, technical skills, final presentation and finish all help to temper the subjectiveness. That said, of course one must also take into account the artist’s intention with his or her piece. Here is where the artist statement is important.
My process was to look at all the photos initially, getting a feel for the quilts, then again with their artist statements and considered each from the aspect of what the artist is saying and what the work is saying to me. Subsequently I took into account the compositional principles and elements in each piece, followed by presentation, workmanship aspects and finish. I encourage you all to pay attention to these areas as well, as if it is to be shown in a gallery, you want your work to look professional. If you want to sell it, it must be professional. I studied all of the quilts as thoroughly as I could, within the limits of the photos provided, and gradually arrived at the selection of art quilts on display. Seeing the quilts individually by photo also made it quite difficult to visualize how they would appear together.
Part of the jurying process was to write constructive critiques for those quilts that were eventually not included in the exhibition. These I hope were found to be helpful by the makers, and they are meant to offer guidance and encouragement.
The most important things though, are that you all continue to experiment and make art quilts, enter in the Art quilt sections at the QQS in October each year, and enter SoTA as well, for there is nothing quite so satisfying as seeing your work on display and being admired by others! You never know where it might lead!

© Sue Duffy


Jane Rundle’s Machine Quilting for Everyone

A busy day machine quilting with Jane Rundle!
We had a full class and the ladies all learnt how to freemotion quilt using guides, either by using the seams on their quilt, or by marking some lines. They learnt how to do circles, feathers and lots of other little techniques to help with the freemotion quilting. At the end of the day, all ladies felt quite proud of themselves.
Workshop Co-ordinator

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Sunprint - Lajla Nystad

2QAQ and the SotAq Exhibition

It was wonderful to attend the opening of the State of the Art Quilts Exhibition in April, at the Wellers Hill Bowls Club. What an amazing range of stunning art quilts.

I particularly enjoyed Sue Dennis’s potted history of 2QAQ, from her description of early meetings in her kitchen, accompanied by food and wine, planning for guest speakers and ways to educate 2Q members about art quilting and design, to the launch of the first SotAq Exhibition in 2009.

“What is an art quilt? We put together a definition and this definition is, I think, always on the entry form and our definition was a fibre or mixed media piece of of 2 or more layers, held together in some way. The finished piece needed to be identifiable as a quilt, and I think that broad definition is still applicable today. It allows the freedom and flexibility of what people are doing out there in Qld Quilters and in the wider community of art quilting. You don’t have to have three layers.  If you want to work with two layers you can. If you want to work with 3, 4, 5 layers you can. And these quilts are flexible in the fact that the outer perimeter only has to be a certain size  –  it can be long and skinny, it can be wide and skinny, it can be triangular, circular. Its really up to the maker. Having no theme also means you have a lot of flexibility.

So SotAq09 – that exhibition was actually held at the beginning of the year. It was launched with Expertise Events on the Gold Coast and at that exhibition we had two jurors, Allison Muir, a well known art quilter from Sydney, and Christine Ballinger who was the director of the Noosa Art Gallery at that time. And being in two different places in Australia they juried from images on their computer. So this was how it was done, this is how it was done overseas .  You put in your entry on line, it’s collated, the images are sent to the jurors without your name. They don’t know whose quilt it is. They are looking at the images, they might have an artist statement and the size and that’s how they do the jurying. From the 29 entries that we had at the first State of the Art 09 exhibition, 19 of those entries were accepted to be hung and tour for the next year.

In September 2009, we wrote the 2QAQ Mission Statement.  And it said one of Qld Quilters objectives is to encourage and maintain high standards of workmanship and design in both traditional and contemporary work. 2QAQ was born of the desire to uphold and maintain the contemporary or art quilt fields of Qld Quilter’s members. 2QAQ’s goal is to promote the love and creation of art quilts by holding meetings that provide a variety of experiences and inspiration through demonstrations, guest speakers, challenges and projects. The SotAq juried quilt show is the accompanying celebratory exhibition of our Qld Quilters art quilting talents. SotAq’s objectives are to bring together art quilters to exhibit their work, give due recognition to the role of the art quilt as an art form, inspire others to develop their skills in art quilting, demonstrate the changing role of the quilting art in Queensland and promote art quilts to a broad cross section of people. I think we are still doing that. Having seen what is actually touring throughout Queensland in the current exhibition is fantastic, and I congratulate everyone who has entered and everyone whose work was selected.”  Sue Dennis

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AQC Challenge

Congratulations to Jeannie Henry, runner up in the AQC Challenge, with Hello Possums!!

Hello Possums!!: The Brushtail Possum, a cat sized mammal, is indigenous Australian fauna and likes to live in our iconic flora, the gumtree. “Hello Possums!!” – is a boisterous Australian made greeting popularised by our very own Aussie ambassador to the world, Dame Edna Everage.

Winner of the AQC challenge was Linden Lancaster, from Victoria, with Kangaroo and Wattle

Kangaroo and Wattle:  The red kangaroo and golden wattle are famous symbols that signify the uniqueness of Australia. They both appear on the coat of arms and are part of our shared cultural history. Aboriginal Australians have utilised them in many ways for thousands of years. Tourism Australia makes use of the kangaroo in its logo to “help ensure instant recognition for Australia around the world”. The golden wattle is our national floral emblem that inspires our nation’s colours. It “has become our cherished symbol of celebration, of joy, of sadness and of remembrance and of home wherever we may be…”

Quilt Assist 2017

Queensland Quilters can be justifiably proud of the wonderful work of our Affiliated Groups in supporting Queensland charities and women and children in need.

This year we have provided funding to Affiliated Groups for the making of Raffle and Charity quilts in support of:

  • Redlands Womens’s Refuge
  • Quilts for Teens, a dialysis unit, Carinity girls school and victims of domestic violence
  • Linus
  • Wesley Hospital Palliative Care Unit
  • Salvation Army Crisis Accommodation Center
  • Scope (a not for profit provider of disability services)
  • Be Uplifted Inc

A big “Thank you” to our Affiliated Groups who continue to provide this assistance to people who need our help.

Sunshine Linus have made the following quilts for Scope.

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Lancaster ribbon

March’s Speaker – Lyn Crump

In March, we were delighted to see Lyn Crump’s quilting journey through her trunk show.

She started by showing us the quilts for the beach house – she transposed her children’s drawings into art quilts. What a wonderful idea!  Lyn also machine quilted a verse for each of her children on their quilts!

We were then treated to a display of Stack’n’Wack, circles, paper-pieced, hexagons, bargello – sew many different techniques.

Lyn kept the best till last. She announced that Featheration 2BLU – Best of Show at Queensland Quilters Quilt Show in 2015 – had been accepted into AQS at Lancaster and Paducah.

Our most heartfelt Congratulations to Lyn! Featheration 2BLU won Third prize at AQS QuiltWeek, Lancaster, Pennsylvania in the Large Quilts – Movable Machine Quilted category.

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Three Crafty Sisters - Pat Jefferies - Viewer's Choice

Challenge 2017

Congratulations to the winners of our annual Challenge!

1st Sue Elliott – 2nd Christine Dowell – 3rd Bernardine Hine

Junior winner: Eithne Walker – Traditional Winner: Verna Hunt
Artistic/Quirky: Jenny Swenson – Viewers Choice at IntoCraft Show: Pat Jefferies

Please contact Loretta for further information

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Bryan Whitehead’s Indigo Workshops, Brisbane, July 2017

Queensland Quilters is hosting 2 workshops with Bryan Whitehead: 22-23 July,  and 24-25 July in Brisbane – Indigo,  stencils and rice paste.

The workshops will be held at the Lavalla Centre, 58 Fernberg Rd, Paddington.

Workshop Description: “Indigo” with Bryan Whitehead
Size: fabric for a quilt approx. 210cm x 210cm (82″ x 82″) will be dyed.
This wonderful class will begin with an introduction to the stencil history of Japan, with many samples of old stencils and

antique indigo dyed pieces being shown and discussed. The process to cut masks in different shapes to make interesting blocks for quilts will be explained and then you will make masks and apply them to your fabric. Indigo vats will be set up during which Bryan will explain the background to making an indigo vat. Your pasted stencil cloth will be dyed and the patterns revealed when the paste is removed. You will also dye different shades of solid blue, to use in your quilt designs. Ideas of how to use your cloth designs in a quilt will be exchanged. This class is suitable for all skill levels.

The images below show Bryan making the paper for the stencils, cutting a stencil, drawing the rice paste through the stencil, so that the fabric is ready to dip in the indigo vat. The stencil paper, shibugami, is several sheets of handmade paper laminated together with persimmon juice.

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Bryan has been growing his own indigo for many years. He processes the plant into fermented sukumo balls and then ferments the indigo in traditional Japanese ceramic indigo vats.  He has a huge collection of antique katagami stencils and is well versed in all aspects of stencil dyeing katazome. Brian will share his experience in  a trunk show of Japanese stencils and textiles.  Participants will have the opportunity to design, cut and use their own stencils.

From Bryan: a brief outline of the program I will be teaching in Adelaide and Brisbane:

I plan to bring a dozen or so antique 19th century Japanese katagami stencils with me. We will use these to dye cotton material in indigo to be used as quilting material. I will bring blank stencil paper for the participants to carve a mask shape to individualize the patterns. 

I will make three hydro sulphite indigo vats for the participants to use.

In the classroom I will need work tables for each participant to sit comfortably at. 

The workshops will start with an introduction to the stencil history in Japan with many samples of the old stencils as well as antique indigo dyed pieces.

This is a two hour talk/trunk show. If you have a projector that I can hook up to my iPad….we will definitely have a projector!

We will discuss how the resist paste is made, I will send the paste ahead in the post to make sure it will make it through customs. (It is rice based.) I will supply a recipe for students to make their own paste but we will not have time to make it ourselves.

I will explain the process we will go through to cut masks in different shapes to make interesting blocks for the quilts.

We will cut the masks and start pasting for several hours. We will need clothes lines inside or outside in the sun to hang the pasted material to dry.

A quilt needs some solid colours to use in the design. 

We all set up the indigo vats and I will give background on indigo vat making. 

Different shades of solid blues will  be dyed.

The pasted stencil dyed cloth will be dyed.

The paste will be removed and the patterns revealed. 

The class will be tidied up and the individual cloth designs examined by everyone and how to use them in a quilt ideas exchanged.

The project is to dye enough material to make a quilt (one-sided) one meter by one and a half meters.

The class will cover:
• What is indigo? Characteristics of Japanese indigo vs woad and SE Asian indigo.
• How indigo was used in Japan.
• Shibori, stripes, stencil dyeing with samples and about kimono.
• Old stencils.
• How they are cut/punched
• History of stencils in Ise.
• Look at some photos of a Japanese Living National Treasure stencil dyer’s work.
Each participant will be stenciling and dyeing 2 metres of fabric for a quilt.
After discussion of how much stenciled fabric you want in your quilt and how much plain dyed fabric for borders; you will have two choices – either:
– 50% stencil patterns 50% solid. (Determine the depth of the blue and how many shades you want by themselves.) or
– 75% stencil 25% solid. (Determine the depth of the blue and how many shades you want by themselves.)
3 indigo vats will be made on the first day and the plain blue fabrics dyed on the first afternoon.

The remainder of the time will be spent designing and cutting stencils, stenciling with rice paste onto your fabric, dyeing the fabric, then removing the paste to reveal the patterns; discussion about your dyed pieces of cloth and suggestions of how to use them in a quilt.

Both Workshops are now full!

If you wish to put your name on a Wait List, please email Lyn Kenny on qa@qldquilters.com


February’s Workshop – Lovely Leaves with Bernadine Hine

Lovely Leaves – “Free motion experience required”

This 2 day workshop is for those who already have free motion skills and are wanting to get their teeth into a creative project. Participants will firstly learn how to draw their own leaves plus the basic construction method along with all sorts of variations. Students will then learn to create elements using water soluble stabiliser and create other elements that you might find laying about on the forest floor.”

I didn’t read the bit about free motion experience required.
It didn’t matter. Bernadine’s teaching style is so relaxed and encouraging, that we were all free motion stitching in no time at all.

It was initially quite a challenging experience! We first had to sketch the various leaves that we picked in our home gardens before coming to class. It was easier with each new leaf we sketched. Then we outlined the leaves in black Sharpie and simplified them ready for stitching.

Next to the exciting bit! Hoop up fabric, add the raw edge applique leaves and get stitching.

Free motion stitching is so liberating! So much fun! You can use all kinds of thread – cotton, quilting thread, rayon, polyester, variegated! Couch threads for the central veins for a lovely effect!

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Sunday saw us continuing to stitch our leaves; free motion embroidering skeleton leaves, moss, lichen, and fern for the forest floor; planning the composition of our quilts.

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Bernadine shared a preview of her new work with us!

These embroideries are for sale at Seaview Art Gallery, Moffatt Beach, Caloundra. More details on Bernadine’s website.
They are absolutely exquisite and certainly rival the embroideries of Alison Holt.
Bernadine’s workshop “Lovely Leaves” was a wonderful experience. I would not hesitate to attend another of Bernadine’s workshops!

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