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.


  1. How lovely to see them altogether and they are all beautiful but I particularly love Shimmer. But what a shame they are not up on show. Perhaps you can have your own ‘Trafalgar Square empty column’ and rotate them.

  2. It's really nice to see these all together. I think my favourites are the first two and the last two. I will look forward to following your new group.

  3. That was a very interesting post. I was wondering why you did not like them? Could it be that by following a theme you felt constrained to a certain technique or colour choice that was not necessarily your favourite? There are some really interesting quilts but I particularly like the shimmer and the haiku quilts.

  4. What a lovely collection of quilts you have produced for the group Catherine. If you don't want to display them (why ever not???) I am sure that a local day centre or similar would be thrilled to have them on display. It would be such a shame if all that thought and effort remained hidden away under the bed!

  5. Catherine, I was surprised to read that your quilts live under the bed; that you did not like them. As I 'walked' through your gallery of quilts I was struck by the interpretation of each quilt and also the cleverness of your imagination....and then the stitching of each one. We are our own worse critic. I think each quilt is fascinating and beautiful. I particularly love Purple Passion - Anemones, Stained Glass Shadows, Shimmer, Moors and of course your last one, Illumination, which is quite amazing! I think all your art quilts are triumphs. Can't wait to see what you and each member of the new group dream up.

  6. What a lovely group of pieces. I am particularly drawn to "The Moors" and "Birches". They are so beautifully rendered and evocative...beautiful works... hugs, Julierose

  7. Catherine, what a treat it is too see all this work in one place. I loved reading about the inspiration behind each piece. Like Julierose, my two favorites are "The Moors" and "Birches", but each quilt has something to move and inspire me. Congratulations on such a wonderful and collaborative project! I look forward to seeing what comes next. xo

  8. I've loved seeing all these again, and am looking forward to seeing the first reveal of The Endeavourers!

  9. I have always loved your Four In Art creations. "Birches" has always been my most favourite one. I am so glad you and Janine decided to create the new group.


  10. Four in Art has certainly provided you with a creative impetus; like Soma I have always enjoyed your challenge pieces and the reveal posts, and this last quilt is no exception. I love the way you use metallics (and not for the first time) and the mixed quilting too. Good luck with the Endeavourers; I look forward to seeing what you all produce.

  11. I think that you are far too hard on yourself, they all look beautiful to me. In fact its good not to be perfect... only machines make perfect. I look forward to following you with the Endeavours


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