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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


April’s Speaker – Kaye Sauer

In April, Kaye Sauer, of Apatchy Quilting, delighted us with her quilting journey, comparing it to a walk she took with her husband along Hadrian’s Wall – not exactly sure where it is taking you.

The quilts she showed us told her story – a story of attempting anything regardless of whether she thought she had the skills to do it or not! From traditional quilts, to story quilts, to art quilts, to her most recent experimental work, depicting faces, people, her Top 40 and, ultimately to that wonderful quilt Bowie – Evolution of the Starman!

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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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February’s Speaker – Rebecca Staunton-Coffey – Journey of an Art Quilter

Like many art quilters, Rebecca comes from a very creative background. Her grandmothers were both textile people – a milliner and a tailoress who also made show winning dolls and doll clothes. Her mother was an oil painter who sewed the childrens’ clothes and later, discovered quilting particularly Hawaiian quilting. One of Rebecca’s early memories is her love of Cowboys and Indians particularly native American Indians and her mother made her an Indian suit out of calico way back in 1960, which she dyed with strong coffee.

Rebecca became interested in creative embroidery when she moved to Armidale in NSW and did a summer school at the UNE in 1979. She was later invited to join a quilt group by the late Barbara Meredith and made cot quilts for her children and friends.

She returned to full time work in 1986 and had a corporate career for the next 20 plus years. He husband was appointed to a senior position in Wellington NZ in 2006 and she went over to live there not knowing a soul.

Her Journey
Rebecca joined Pinestream Quilters in Upper Hutt and became a Committee Member for several years. She also completed her City and Guilds in Patchwork and Quilting online from England with Laura and Linda Kemshall. It was an 2 year online course, teaching design elements, basic dyeing, paint sticks, quilting, patchwork, foiling etc

In 2007, she attended a masterclass with Joan Schulz and the work from the class in NZ and the Australian one Joan ran were exhibited at the TAFTA Gallery in the Gap. The theme was Fans. Joan taught how to use fabrics other than cotton and image transferring onto cloth.

She also did a five day course with Heide Stolle Weber from Germany on Procion fabric dyeing, which provided her with a massive dye sample book to refer to.

Rebecca also studied mixed media at night at NZ’s Community College, which resulted in her being asked to join two art quilting groups – Cre8 and 8 by 8(3 Squared).

She had the wonderful opportunity to attend workshops, twice, with NANCY CROW from USA. Nancy is a legend – she is now 72 but has an amazing energy and a very critical eye.

Nancy began doing her free type patchwork in the 1980s and 1990s and has held many exhibitions at Art Galleries in the USA and beyond. She founded Quilt National USA in 1979 , which continues as one of the supreme biannual Quilt Exhibitions. She taught many of the modern day quilt movement quilters like Denise Smythe, Jean Wells and Lisa Call.
In total, Rebecca spent 5 weeks with Nancy Crow in 2011 and 2013. Nancy’s method of teaching is to get you to hand write the notes of the day which contain a series of Design Exercises with dimensions (e.g. 60in by 40in) and colour rules. Nancy wont let you use a ruler – her workshops are about design. Nancy teaches design, design, design, the wonders of colour relationships, using solids, free cutting and rules to create a piece e.g use three greys, three tans and two colours. Nancy sees art as a process of discovery and not knowing ahead of time exactly what you are making. She emphasises composition and proportions. Nancy’s courses are exciting and a real stretch.

Rebecca returned to Australia in 2013. She attended the Quilt Symposium 2013 in Lake Taupo and took a class with Gwen Marston from USA, once again required to piece without a ruler! She continues as a member of her New Zealand art quilt groups.

The 8 by 8 group have set themselves various challenges beginning with two journal quilt series. These quilts have been exhibited in the New Zealand Parliamentary Gallery and EXPRESSIONS Gallery Upper Hutt.
These quilts are 12 by 15 inches and they made one every two months and everyone’s was different. Rebecca posted hers to New Zealand for the Reveals. Topics included sea, churches, bridges, and 8 based on colours – 16 quilts in all.

Last year the quilts were inspired by a poem by the Poet Lauriate of Wisconsin. Her poem included references to nature so Rebecca’s work centred around flowers. These will be exhibited at EXPRESSIONS Gallery in June/July this year.
Cre8 had a very successful exhibition at the HUTT ART CENTRE at Lower Hutt Wellington in June/July last year, with another Exhibition booked for next year.

On returning to Brisbane in 2013 Rebecca met up again with Chris Harvey and Jen Young who encouraged her to join Queensland Quilters. She also met Ali George, who encouraged her in her art quilting, fabric dyeing and print making. With Ali, she has run some workshops at Craft Shows in Sydney, Perth and Brisbane.

In 2015 she was asked to join Broadstrokes Art Group. The expanded membership now includes Sue Dennis, Chris Jones, Jane Rundle, Ali, Merody, Kathryn, Mel, Suzanne and Rebecca. Broadstrokes successfully presented a group exhibition in Taiwan last year with some other Art Quilters and details and photographs of the quilts was included in the Qld Quilters magazine last year. Since Taiwan this exhibition has been traveling and has been exhibited at Brisbane Craft and Quilt Show, Wellington NZ, Adelaide and soon in Hobart.
Rebecca’s current challenge is to complete a Textile Degree accredited by the University of the Creative Arts in the United Kingdom – a distance course that requires her to send work to the UK for assessment. She is learning to be more adventurous and to extend her textile practice. At the moment she is making experimental yarns using string, thread, seaglass, wire, feathers etc. She then has to incorporate these into a simple textile piece.

She has also entered Brenda Gael Smith’s Weekly Art Project for 2017 and Year of Stitches 2017 and finds that the weekly challenge is great for overcoming procrastination!

It was wonderful to hear Rebecca’s journey and to see her inspiring quilts. You can follow Rebecca’s blog to see more of her art pieces.