Friday 3 November 2017

Farewell to Four in Art

Back at the beginning of 2015 I was lucky to join the Four in Art quilt group.   There is nothing like commitment to the rest of a group and having a looming deadline as an incentive to do something creative and it is just a great environment for exchanging ideas and for friendly encouragement.  Best of all belonging to a group like this is a reason to really think about a subject, and how to express it in a quilty fashion, which is sheer luxury if you like lying in bed at night dreaming and planning.

As time went on I've worried that I haven't been adventurous enough and that my quilts didn't qualify as 'art' quilts, but a theme speaks to you in a particular way and you kind of have to roll with it.  All of the quilts I've made have things I don't like about them and almost all of them live in a drawer under my bed, but with each of them I've learned a lot (often about things that I would do differently given another opportunity!)  and it has been an opportunity to work out the things that I'm interested in.

I thought I'd put them up in series below.   They are a diverse bunch but I'm realising that some things are fairly constant; shot cotton (in particular Oakshott), silk, solids, and gold.

2015 Literature 

#1: The Moors

- inspired by the use of landscape in literature and the works of the Bronte sisters

#2: Haiku

Inspired by a work by the poet Basho, about a frog jumping into a pond.

#3: Mrs Midas

Inspired by the poem by Carol Ann Duffy.

#4: Birches

Inspired by the landscapes in Anna Karenina.

2016: Colour

At about this point we abandoned the previous 12x12 size restriction.  In the first year it was a really interesting constraint to work in, and meant having to think in a very particular way about how to approach the theme.  I found this a really satisfying challenge, but although some of the group more or less stuck to it, I think I would have eventually found it too difficult to keep up.

#1:  'Microscopic', Building blocks

I thought I'd start the Colour year with Black and White and treat the 'Microscopic' theme by drawing an analogy between quilt blocks and cells.

#2: 'Music', Rhapsody in Blue

Inspired by the piece of music, and the images it evokes of a city at night and a particular era.

#3: 'I've got the Blues'

A quilt which was supposed to represent the notes in the blues scale, in a way which was supposed to look like sparkles on water,  but which didn't work out....

#4: 'Purple Passion', Anemones

Rare figurative quilt.

2017:  Light

#1: 'Light in the Darkness' 

I was thinking about light in the darkness as a source of comfort, or in terms of astronomy, or as a symbol of knowledge and evidence-based thinking, and the light of reason in the 'post-truth' era.

#2: 'Stained Glass Shadows'

About the qualities of light as it comes through coloured glass and falls on a surface.

#3: 'Shimmer'

Inspired by light coming from facets of my glass living-room doorknob and the way they look as I go past.

#4: 'Illumination'

See my last post for a lengthy explanation...

One of the most fascinating and exciting things about belonging to the group was in seeing the different ways we all responded to a particular theme, and the very different styles and techniques we used.   If you keep an eye open for 'retrospectives' from the other members (Elizabeth has already done one here) you will see what I mean.   I've learned such a lot from this group.

Four in Art has now come to an end, but Janine, Nancy and I are moving forward with eleven other members and a new group - 'the Endeavourers'.  Our first theme is Nature, and our first ever reveal will be on 1 February.

Wednesday 1 November 2017

Four in Art: Illumination (Number 4 in the 'Light' series)

If you've been reading for a while, you'll know that for three years I've been a member of the quilt group 'Four in Art'.  We have been making a quilt every quarter to an annual theme and quarterly sub-theme.

Our annual theme for this year is 'Light', and this quarter's theme, chosen by Janine, is 'Illumination'.

I've absolutely loved this year's theme - so much to think about.  The particular nature of the subthemes this year also made it possible to return to some sources of inspiration and with each quarter I got more and more interested in the qualities of light and in light as a metaphor.  So my thought processes for the final quilt in this series turned towards these again and spun off something like this:

  • Illumination as in lighting, light, sources of light
  • Illumination as in illuminated manuscripts - where 'illuminated' comes from the Latin for 'lit up' or 'enlightened' and refers to gold or colourful decoration of important and precious texts ...
...which might be a source of
  • illumination as a metaphor for intellectual or spiritual enlightenment
...which all sent me on a train of thought back to
  •  the beauty and colour of cathedral windows...
  • a source of illumination which in turn made me think of motes of coloured light dancing on old stonework (a different quality of light to that in Stained Glass Shadows)
  • and back to the idea of colour and gilding in illuminated manuscripts

I wanted to incorporate all these inter-related elements.  So this quilt has all the things!

Patchwork cathedral windows represent the real thing, casting dancing coloured lights on old stonework.

The quilting, a combination of straight line and stippling, reflects rays of light on weathered stone.

But you could also imagine illuminated texts, with gilding and beautiful colours on paper or velum, and these texts are themselves a source of 'illumination'.

The gold represents beams of light (illumination in the physical sense), or gilding, and also contributes towards the idea of illumination in the metaphorical sense.

30" x 30"
Oakshott cottons and gold silk
Aurifil 50 and 28wt in two colours
Faced binding

Sadly, this will be our last Four in Art reveal!  Thank you fellow members for being a constant source of inspiration and enthusiasm, many thanks to Rachel, our current chairperson, for organising us, and, most especially, thank you Elizabeth for being the drive behind such a warm, supportive and thoughtful group.

Please check out the other Four-in Arters who also reveal their quilts today;

BettyElizabethJanine, Nancy, RachelSimone or on the group blog.

and stay tuned for The Endeavourers, as Janine, Nancy and I move forward with a new group next year.


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