This is a bit of a rare serious post, but one I would like to make .. so please bear with me!
Some of you will know that I recently I joined up with Annabel Rainbow to look at creating some sort of group/forum/something to champion British Art Quilts. We both felt that the judging of art quilts at Festival of Quilts showed a fundamental misunderstanding and lack of appreciation of what what art quilts are about. Annabel started us up with facebook page and we arranged to meet up when we were both quieter after getting exhibitions off our hands. We both feel very strongly that the art part of the quilt needs a much better understanding and fairer judging ... and needs some judges coming from art rather than quilt backgrounds. As we talked about various ideas to take this all forward, it became clear that whilst we agree on so many issues, we actually have a fundamental difference in how we view and define art quilts. So after discussion we decided we would still offer mutual support, but would take our own routes forward, as the two would dilute and complicate one other. A recent post on the FB page. very much highlighted this difference of position between us, and I think it would be useful to clarify where we stand ... the discussions become very confusing otherwise!! So I am posting my response to that post here too, as I know many people don't use FB, andI would like to make my views quite clear. So here it is:
I undoubtedly make art, but when I choose to call that art, an art quilt, I feel an obligation to show respect to the tradition that has given me that word. Otherwise, I would just call it art (and sometimes I do - not all my work falls in the art quilt arena). I choose to make quilts on occasions as I do love the format, but also because I love the connection to all those women in the past, who were compelled to make something beautiful out of necessity. They could not avoid but try to use their materials creatively and it is that heritage I want to honour. But I do not see conflict with this and my art ... I have choice about what definitions I use for each piece. I do not want to dump or forget that heritage. My feeling is that if you don’t feel any connection to that history .. then why are you even using the word ‘quilt’ (I am aware that you may not Marion). So that is where I stand – I am passionate about art quilts and want to see this unique and (almost all) feminine form of art respected and displayed in the art world, embracing all it’s roots. And I do believe you can instigate change from within. I only have to look at the number of students and currently visitors to my exhibitions, who have told me that I am converting them from purely traditional quilts to a real appreciation of how art can be expressed through the medium and a desire to move forward to try and embrace the concept of art quilts. I am sure it helps that they know I have a full understanding of and admiration for our quilting history. This is not a revolution I know – but showing by example is a good route to change – and will stand the test of time in the future.
All this said. I respect and understand that Annabel (and yourself) are coming at this from a much more activist sort of a place, and do not wish to be burdened or held back by any connection to the past history of quilting and of course the inevitable misunderstandings and confusion that causes. Annabel is an extremely talented fine artist and has a mission in her mind, to cut through the past and simply concentrate on the art part of the quilt. She is still working out exactly the best way to achieve this, but I am very confident she will – old Beanbonce is an activist without doubt.
But I just could not, and even on reflection, cannot feel comfortable with this severance of all that is past. For me personally that would feel a betrayal and lack of respect for a very female history– please note the word ‘personally’ – I am not making a comment on others choices/beliefs here. I also have too much regard for and far too many friends in the Guild to want to draw such a line of separation from what they stand for.
So I shall aim for change from within I guess and you two can spearhead your pressure group for severance from without. I hope both groups can support and respect one another … our common ground is that we all love art! – Hilary B
I hope it is not necessary to say that Annabel and I are still great mates and will remain mutaully supportive of one anothers paths. And we both like cake alot too.
I promise the next post will be back to lots of lovely images and my usual not very serious style - Hilary x