Monday, 17 May 2010

Exhibition V & A Quilts 1700-2010

I was lucky enough to go to this exhibition at the V&A(For overseas readers, this is the Victoria and Albert museum in London.) The description on the V&A website summarises it thus:-

"This exhibition showcases the V&A's collection of patchwork and quilted covers to bring together over 300 years of British quilting history, from the spectacular bed hangings and silk coverlets of the 18th century, to the creative reinvention of the quilt by contemporary artists."

I thought it was an amazing exhibition, and was completely fascinated by it all. Unfortunately photography by the general public is not allowed, but I have seen a couple of blogs with photos!

I particularly liked the large wall hanging George III Reviewing the Troops (1803-4), as it is like a historical record of that time made in stitch. Every piece was so well designed and constructed. Sometimes it was possible to view the back of the quilts and see the backing papers and the tiny stitches.

I liked the way some of the quilts were arranged on beds, as viewing was easy, and after all they were made to go on beds. The pieces all had stories attached to them, telling who made the quilt and from which part of the Uk they were from. Also the fabrics used. I liked the story of the marriage quilt, reputedly made using the love letters of the bride and groom, John and Elisabeth Chapman, as backing papers-however close inspection revealed that the papers were made from more prosaic items such as bills and grocery lists! This was the Coverlet commemorating Wellington (1829).

Quilted cot cover for a child's bed (1690-1720) was made in silk by Priscilla Redding from Canterbury, Kent and shown alongside the quilt is her diary which tells of her quilt and daily life.

Map Sampler (1800) by Ann Reaves aged 10 featured a map of Britain with a beautifully worked border in the tiniest stitches I have ever seen!

The Royal Clothograph by John Monro (1830-50) took this master tailor 18 years to complete.

Bedcover with Mariner's Compass Design (1830s) was composed of 1,128 cotton patches.

Bedcover with Leopard Skin Printed textile (1800-40) was composed of 1,690 patches. This featured early printed textile designs of leopard skin. The animal print seems such a modern concept, it is strange to think it was actually modern 20o years ago. My heart fails at the thought of counting all these patches, let alone making them.

Among the contemporary exhibits shown were Right of Life (1993) by Grayson Perry and To Meet My Past (2002) by Tracy Emin. I liked North and South (2010) by Louis Moreau ( The Quiltes )Ltd which tells the true story of industrialisation, although at first glance it appears to be Toile de Jouy. I preferred Liberty Jack (2008) by Janey Forgan, as I liked the pretty freshness of the liberty print fabrics used, combined with a Union Jack pattern, which is not traditionally very pretty.

I can't write about every single exhibit, but I hope this gives you a good overview of the exhbition. If you can go to see it, you will find it really enjoyable and interesting.