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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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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
https://www.qldquilters.com/events-activities/challenge/

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BernadineHine1701

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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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.

8 BY 8 ART QUILT GROUP – NZ
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
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.

BRISBANE 2013 – NOW
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.
TEXTILE DEGREE AND 2017 CHALLENGE PROJECTS
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.