Thursday, August 9, 2012

Impressions from serving as a jury member

In the end of July I had the honour of serving as one of three jury members for the competition in Ste. Marie-aux-Mines.
We received two photos of each quilt entered on a USB-stick: one full view, and a detail. In addition, the stick contained an excel-file in which we were to enter our points. We had to judge four different criteria – relevance to the them, composition, technique, and originality. These points were added together, thus each quilt could earn a total of no more than 20 points. The quilts were numbered, so we did not know any names of makers. Not even now do we know who made the quilts that were selected. Only in September will we know, when we get together to chose the best of show.
It was a very interesting and instructive experience! I myself had received a rejection of two of my quilts which I had entered for SAQA’s „Wide Horizons III“ just on the morning when I started my jurying. So I was very much and acutely aware of the fact how deeply disappointed one feels upon receiving a rejection. Especially since the competition’s topic, “Yesterday, today, tomorrow” was one that elicited some very personal quilts. Which in turn might result in even stronger feelings of disappointed upon rejection.
Overall, I was surprised by the low number of entries – a total of only 93 quilts had been signed up. And I was slightly disappointed with the quality of the quilts entered. Certainly, there were some which were really good, and I did give top marks of 20 to three of the quilts. (I thought I was being very strict – but the other two members of the jury did not give perfect scores to any of the quilts.) But the additions of the individual scores also showed clearly and easily which 32 quilts would be my personal selection.
This procedure was followed individually by the other two jurors as well – LibbyLehmann from the USA, and LindaColsh, an American living in Belgium. We then communicated by e-mail and would have also skyped if there had been severe differences in judgements, but we were able to solve everything by e-mail in the end. All three jurors’ scores were added, thus giving us a final score for each of the quilts. Our scores certainly differed  for some of the quilts, which I take to be a very good sign. That way there were fair chances for quilts of different styles to succeed. In the end, our judgement was uncontroversial, though. The only bit of discussion we had was when we had to decide on a substitute for one quilt, because we had chosen two by the same maker, which is not allowed, but even that was solved quickly.
So the whole process of jurying and communicating with the other jurors was a great experience of co-operation.
I was rather annoyed with the quality of some of the photos, however. Some of them were out of focus – which is not bound to make a positive impression on jury members who want to take a closer look at details or parts of the quilt. Many pictures had a low number pixels, i.e. photo size – again, that does not help when a jury member wants to zoom into the picture and look at something more closely. Some of them were cropped – do I see the entire quilt here, or what? Some of them were crooked. When I look at a photo for jurying I don’t want to have to hold my head slanted in order to get a good upright impression of what I am looking at.
Add to that the fact that several of the statements included referred only to the technique used, but did not give a clue about the relevance to the topic. And indeed there were some quilts which would have needed such an explanation as the relevance to the topic was not obvious on first sight. And there were some statements which included so many mistakes that it did not necessarily help in making the relevance to the topic any clearer.
From these experiences I want to point out several points which somehow seem obvious but definitely need to be adhered to in a much more particular way. When entering a quilt in a competition in which photos are the basis for first rounds of judgement, please

  • Make sure that somebody takes the picture who really knows what s/he is doing. It might be a very worthy investment of taking the quilt to a photographer and having a professional picture taken. Make sure that the quilt is depicted straight, that nothing is cropped, and that ever part of the quilt is well lit.
  • When taking the photo yourself, make sure that you have the settings on a 5 MB file. It will make it a lot easier on the jury to zoom in and look at specific details – which in turn will help the chances of your quilt!
  • For a detail shot, chose an important section of the quilt, where the technique used can be seen, or which is vital for the composition. A detail of an uninteresting background section is not what the jury is looking for.
  • Make sure that your statement is grammatically correct, in what ever language you are using. If you are not sure about your English, please have somebody look it over, or get somebody for the translation. Statements with too many mistakes in them do not help the chances of selection ...

I do wish everybody success when they are entering for a competition or show. However, a jury must always select only a small set of the quilts entered – rejections are bound to happen to any of us. Just don’t take them personal.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this - very good information here.