Sunday, 7 February 2010

Breakthrough exhibition: Spring Ferns

Quiltfest - - is taking place on Llangollen during the month of February.  There are three major exhibitions - Effie Galletly  with a new exhibition A Sense of Place, works by Liesbeth Williams, and selected quilts by members of the Contemporary Quilt Group (a specialist sub-group of The Quilters Guild of the British Isles) in an exhibition called Breakthrough.  Quiltfest is an annual event and is known for the quality of its exhibitions and this year is no exception - so if you can get to Llangollen this month you'll be in for a treat.

One of the quilts selected is by me!  Yes!  Really!  I have seen photographs of the exhibition and there are really amazing quilts in it, many by well-known quilters: I am proud (and excited) to be in such august company.

My quilt is one of my fern pieces.  It's based on the ferns that have grown in my garden for the last century, but every year seems like new when they start to grow - and for me they are potent symbols of growth and survival.  In terms of my development as an artist they also represent a personal breakthrough in that the ferns are all portraits developed from drawings (apart that is from the screenprinted ferns which remind me of the ghosts of the previous year's ferns that hang around till spring):

The fabric for the quilt is hand-dyed (the background had to be overdyed to get the depth of colour I wanted).  The "ghost-ferns" were screenprinted with thickened dye, using a real fern as a mask.  I've been experimenting with ways of attaching applique by machine: in this case I used a tiny zigzag with a line of straight-stitch either side (if I'm going to use something that will show I prefer to make a feature of it).  I've couched hand-dyed thread (six strands of stranded embroidery cotton) round the screen-printed panels.  The same thread is also used to outline the other fernlets (the ones that haven't yet grown).  The whole wuilt is free-machine quilted (I have been practising this and while I'm not yet perfect I have come on!) with Oliver Twists hand-dyed threads.