A few days ago I received the very exciting news that “Pandemic Pattern” was juried into QN21. My regular readers will remember I started this quilt with view to entering, Knowing time was a little tight, once the sewing was moving along, I made an appointment well in advance with my wonderful photographer Eduardo Baldizan Roca, allowing just one day for some technical hitch before the entry deadline. I have less endurance for hasty last minute dramas than I used to. Eduardo produced his usual reliable, high quality photography and even dropped my photographed quilt here to me at home, bless him – people here in Uruguay tend to be very kind to seniors.
Once it was finished and entered, several people around me were complementary about it, but as usual I wavered back and forth between confidence and self doubt, thinking perhaps the jurors wouldn’t like / understand / think it was high tech enough, whatever – there are lots of reasons why a perfectly good art quilt might not be selected for any exhibition. And, it was a single entry: it is often recommended that artists have more chance of selection if they submit two or three similar works, a portfolio from which one would be chosen – something about presenting the artist’s voice or something, and usually I do have two or three to enter. I knew I had left my run a bit late-ish this time, but also typically underestimated how long the finishing off would really take. So with binding still not on, and about a week to go before the deadline, it became clear I wouldn’t have time to make another one. But that idea will keep – the pandemic’s not going to quieten down any time soon, unfortunately. The wonder was that my entry went in 48 hours before the deadline.
I did not expect to run out of thread at about 750m, which I’d have thought would be more than enough! I’ve never found my favourite threads, Gutermann, on sale here in Uruguay, and with no time to go hunting, had to blend in another not quite the same colour, which with the sewing and re-sewing to achieve that, plus all the binding and finishing, the total was at least 900m thread used. And people do ask that kind of thing, you know, especially at exhibition openings! It’s interesting, because quilted textile art is still strongly associated with its traditional heritage. People have seen awards of excellence made to some amazingly intricate designs in fabric and thread at quilt shows and state fairs. In the traditional world, excellence is achieved through precision and numbers of stitches per inch. In the art quilt world, design and colour are paramount, and technique needs to be appropriately and competently carried out well enough to present the artist’s vision without being in itself a distraction. People will also ask how many hours it took to make, and I’m sure about this one, someone will surely ask how many little pieces of fabric did I stitch onto the background? I always such questions by smiling and saying I really don’t keep a tally of that kind of thing, but do feel free to count or guesstimate!
As I pack it up ready for shipping in the next few days, the photo Mike took of me today it may be the only chance I’ll ever get. I’ve always had a pic taken of me with quilt at every opening (QN 93, 93, 05, 07), but unless the pandemic just goes away between now and 28th of May 2021, I won’t be risking my life to travel to this opening. That’s a shame, but in this pandemic ravaged world, on a scale of 0-10 it’s a problem of zero importance by comparison with what so many people aree stuggling with every day, which brings me right to the underlying theme of my quilt: I’ve been shocked by the pictures we’ve all seen of hundreds of graves being hastily dug and filled in, frequently without any ceremonial and not a single mourner present. It’s happening day after day in Covid pandemic hot spots around the world.