Archive for the ‘art quilts’ Category

The Shimmer Effect

Wednesday, November 29th, 2023

SAQA juror Pat Forster selected one of my works,“The Shimmer Effect”, for an online exhibition, Geometric Expressions, which opens on the SAQA website on January 3rd next. I’ll post that link here when it’s available.

I never show a completed work on my blog or website until it’s been exhibited, ie published somewhere, so for now here’s a close detail shot of the surface texture, along with my statement about it: “A square symbolises balance, solidity and stability.  Hand stitching over concentric squares in gentle neutral colours calmed my unease at current disorder and chaos in the world.  Metallic threads in my work signify value or importance, here referencing tradition and hope.

Close detail, “The Shimmer Effect, 2022. Each square is ~6cm.

I posted about it while making this quilt as it was such a long project. It’s about 1m square, with each concentric square unit being 6cm, with a total of 121 squares of fused nylon organza strips oversewn by hand in metallic thread. The fabric itself has a subtle glittery texture.

Some Things Change, Others No So Much

Saturday, November 11th, 2023

While penning a newsletter this week for Ozquilt, an association for art quilt makers in the Australian-New Zealand corner of the world (of which I’ve been a member for ever) I looked back at some of my very earliest blog posts in 2005.

Today, the internet is littered with abandoned blogs, and yet some who began blogging then continue to write them even as their original angle or purpose might have shifted a bit, as mine has. My regular readers know that my blog has become more of an artist’s diary in content and less of a travelogue than when I began writing it. Of course, that could have something to do with travelling less, too 😉 In the last decade social media have multiplied and spread, so that today even Facebook and Instagram are showing signs of being past their peaks, and certainly blogs have lost some of the importance they had 15 years ago. Perhaps both writers and readers can’t be bothered to look past pictures and captions for a longer read.

While I still write and post on my blog, my overall online presence has changed a bit, too. I have been on Facebook for years, but only recently set up an artist page there in addition to my more general one. Last year I started posting on Instagram which is all about pictures and less about information in written form. It may be true, as younger people now say, that FB is more for older people. I haven’t yet taken to the colour-and-movement on Tik Tok, and if I ever do go there, the influencers will have probably all moved on… whatever. The thing with social media is that you can spend hours just looking, making videos and so on, but the posts are not necessarily coherent and sequential, and often not in the least bit informative. Being a natural teacher and lover of sharing information and opinions as I do, a blog format is perfect for me. Reading back over some of my earlier posts revealed that I could have written some of them just yesterday. I prefer to think that demonstrates consistent opinion-forming, not that I’m an old stuck-in-the-mud!

I recently had a conversation with a friend here about some of the most iconic Uruguayan artists, and of course the beloved Jose Gurvich came up. He was gifted in many media, including painting, ceramics, drawing and printmaking, and we’ve just made plans for next weekend to vist the Museo Gurvich, in the Old City, dedicated to his life’s work. On Friday May 13th 2005 I posted about this quilt, made shortly after seeing an important exhibition of Gurvich’s ceramics.

“Arbol de la Vida” 2005, ~130 x 100cm. Strongly influenced by a wonderful exhibition I had recently seen of the ceramic works of Jose Gurvich.

My work is almost never pictorial, and I haven’t made anything in that style since… but I made it for an invitation to exhibit in a display with a particular theme, which is something I almost never do now. Today, I follow my own themes or my vision, make the work and then select calls for entries that I think suit whatever I’m making or have already made.

Reading on through that 2005 post, in which I positively enthused about working late, or even frantically working through the night to meet some deadline or other showed that has really changed! I now have a fairly well developed sense of what I can achieve in a given time, and as I begin something, I self-impose a deadline to allow days or even weeks before any deadline. It might be aging, or perhaps a delayed onset of wisdom, but despite the many last minute triumphs including some notably glorious ones, I now hate the pressure of doing things in a rush at the last minute. I’ve always preferred working to larger sizes like 100cm+ that to many younger artquilt makers would seem impossibly large, but I love a large project and the challenges that presents, and to produce one takes time, without rushing against the clock.

Several Pleasant Surprises …

Sunday, October 29th, 2023

I’ve mentioned a couple of times before not being able to fully cross reference images that weren’t listed in my master list ‘catalogue’ – and vice versa. But this has turned out to be a bumper week for surprises.

First, when I emptied out the contents of a decaying plastic bag that had been literally sitting on a shelf undisturbed for years, and which I thought it held just a few offcuts and samples, I pulled out this little quilt I’d totally forgotten I ever made, and which I’d failed to enter on my master list:

Tidelines 13, 2012 80cm square. Whole cloth, stencilled, machine quilted. perhaps I should have ironed or steamed it before photographing, but this is literally how it was when I pulled it off the shelf!

and next I pulled out another two which I really thought were in storage in Australia, and that I don’t remember bringing over here!

Sunburnt Textures 3 1997, 70cmh x 100cmw Freehand cut, machine pieced and quilted in the ditch. Hand stitched.
Forgotten Title” was in a 1994 exhibition in Sydney, Australia. Improvisational patchwork, machine pieced and quilted.

But the biggest surprise of all was when I contacted Dianne Finnegan in Sydney who headed the selectors team for the Colours Of Australia 1994 exhibition, asking if she could tell me what I had called that piece above, and she sent back an image of a quilt I apparently called Bushfire Weather from the catalogue for Art Quilts of Australia 2000 that I really don’t remember making, but it undeniably has my signature all over it :-

“Bushfire Weather” 1999, 100cmh x 120cmw. Improvisational machine piecing, machine quilted with triple needle stitching. (catalogue page by Dianne Finnegan, and I’m still not sure who took the orignal image)

That clears up a bit of the confusion on that master list I referred to at the start of this post as I couldn’t find an image to go with that title – and most of my slides and records of entering shows, catalogues, etc are in my filing cabinet – all safely in storage. Stuff in storage is at times the bane of my existence – a long story I’ll not go into here. But I must have a slide somewhere there because we had to enter juried exhibitions by submitting 35mm slides until about 15 years ago. But for the moment, this will have to do for the record.

And, looking at it, I wonder how on earth I could have forgotten about it, and how I’ve no idea where it is, whether it sold or came back after the exhibibition…. So let me just say I really like this work and am so glad some record of its existence has been restored to me!!

The first paragraph statement is exactly as I would have written it today. The second paragraph is a nice little bio for the time.

“In Fourteen Hundred And Ninety Two…

Monday, August 14th, 2023

Columbus sailed the ocean blue” go the famous first two lines from a children’s poem on American history of which I first learned while we lived in USA, 1987-94.

Probably in 1991, before the quincentenary of the discovery of what became known as The New World – the Americas, Quilters Newsletter Magazine announced some competition or call for an exhibition to go in their pages to help mark this huge event in modern world history. I don’t remember the exact details of it, however I clearly remember making my entry, which unfortunately was not selected:

“In Search Of The New World” 1992, 130cm x 130cm

Last week I realised that although this quilt was listed in my ‘master list’, I hadn’t noticed a photo of it anywhere for a very long time. Since then I have been searching, knowing it has to be in my computer somewhere – and eventually just an hour ago I found it in an external hard drive I haven’t accessed for years. Please share my joy! One possible reason for not finding it is I didn’t have the title exactly right in the search – duh. Anyway, I immediately re-saved it into this computer, and now it will probably pop up somewhere just because I’m no longer looking for it…

Detail “In Search Of The New World”, machine pieced and quilted.

I was a bit disappointed when my work was rejected, but I’d already had acceptance and rejection experience so took it philosophically. When the selected ones were published later that year, I saw there were some some much better ones than this one.

Now looking at it, I know the shiny blue fabric said ‘water’, and the earthy coloured strips said, to me anyway, ‘earth’. If you look carefully, in the detail shot you can see spherical shapes representing the round earth, (as many at that time still believed the Earth to be flat) but now I see those spheres were way too subtle, but it’s an interesting idea I might revisit some time. Probably the horizontal strips of fabric should have had some green in them, to suggest ‘land’. Plus the strips themselves were perfectly straight edged, not at all land like… I had not yet learned the basics of improvisational cutting and piecing, but If I’d known them then, those strips might have looked more like islands in the blue, and been more appealing. The best features of this landscape+history inspired work are the wonderful cerulean blue polished cotton furnishing fabric, and the inspired freehand watery machine quilting pattern.

A Bit Of A Sleeper, Really …

Thursday, July 21st, 2022

Although I only had this work photographed a couple of months ago, I actually made it in 2015. A bit experimental in materials and processes, I designed and made it for a particular wall in our home, hung it immediately it was finished and always forgot to take it to be photographed every time after that I took other new work to be done. I tend to have several pieces photographed at once, a couple of times a year, but this one just somehow got overlooked every time. Fast forward to 2022, and in January I was inspired to make a new work for that space, and put that one straight up, too, without naming or even measuring and documenting it, and I still haven’t had it properly photographed, either! However, in a few weeks’ time I’ll be taking some new work in to Eduardo’s studio, and will try to remember it in then.

However, back to this one –

“Slideshow” 110cm x 120cm 2015

Even when I posted my fresh new new photo on Instagram I hadn’t yet bothered to name it, and friend Kathy Loomis of OH suggested I should call it Slideshow. I agreed, and went on to comment ” @kathy_in_ky 😂 you’re right – and I never titled it because I made it for a particular place in our house. So “Slideshow” it is, not that it’s ever going to appear in any catalogue, except for the illustrated record I keep of all my work – with an eye to the major retrospective in about 100 years’ time, of course 😍 ”

When Studio Art Quilt Associates, SAQA, called for entries to a juried collection of SAQA juried artists’ quilts to feature in their exhibition space at the huge annual expo SOFA, (that stands for sculpture objects fine art design) I looked to see what might fit. There was no age limit, so I included Slideshow among the three in my entry, and then quite forgot about it until an acceptance email turned up yesterday. I’m not sure there’ll be a catalogue, but that expo is big, and it’s a wonderful exposure opportunity for my art.

“Slideshow”, detail

Grid layouts are my go-to design structure, definitely an influence from traditional patchwork and quilting. But there’s more to my love of them. I’m a creature of some degree of habit, and calm and order do come from a level of predictability derived through repetition. In today’s turbulent world, I value an orderly home where actual people live, using and enjoying our various belongings, and tidying up and cleaning when absolutely necessary. When I go downstairs in the morning to make the first cup of tea I like that the cat is waiting on the window ledge for its breakfast. I like opening a cupboard knowing I’ll find that thing I want without having to rummage around too much. You probably have regular ‘markers’ in your daily and weekly lives and can relate to those comments. I’ve known a couple of serious hoarders in my life, and in their environments, nothing is filed sensibly, put away properly, repaired or thrown away. Stuff just accumulates in no particular order, and I’ve found such people’s chaotic environments very unsettling.

In addition to the masses of traditional and contemporary quilt makers, many of my favourite artists work in grids and grid-like structures, so they too influence me. Outside of the fibre art world, I particularly love the work of artists like Agnes Martin, Mathias Goeritz, Shane Drinkwater, Giles Bettison and Vera Molnar – you’ll see what I mean if you go to these links to their work.

Entries (RSS) and Comments (RSS).

All images and text are © Alison Schwabe
Reproduction of any kind is expressly prohibited without written consent.

Translate »