Saturday, August 18, 2018

Festival of Quilts at Birmingham, once again

Last week I have been to and on Monday returned from the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham. 

I am beginning to lose track of how many times I have been to that event and venue, and the whole procedure is getting to be a bit of a routine. I know my way from the airport to the hotel and the exhibition halls, I love the fact that the venue is so conveniently located to the airport. I enjoy being able to walk to the hotel with my bags (praise to the person who invented the wheel, and to the person who put suitcases on wheels!) from the airport, and back. 

It has become an important place to renew contact with many people whom I don’t get to see often, 

The SAQA dinner always is one of the highlights of the event.

and I use the setup to find topics/people to write about for the German Guild’s Magazine. With floor plan in hand and very little of a pre-set mind I make sure to see every single gallery with special exhibitions unless I have seen it before. At FoQ this year, ‘Stuff for Thought’, e.g. was one gallery that I did not look at in detail anymore because I had had three other opportunities where I could see it.
Some galleries I don’t spend a lot of time in, but the ones that touch me I can while away a lot of time in. 

I make sure to see every ‘winner’ in the winner’s gallery, 

Philippa Naylor, Circuit Training, 1st prize winner of Miniature Quilts

Philippa Naylor, Circuit Training, 1st prize winner of Miniature Quilts, detail

and I do go through the aisles of competition entries, pausing to look closer at those the somehow catch my eye.

A very interesting interpretation of the famous Japanese wood cut of a huge
wave (is it a tsunami?) - in plastic -

Anthropogenic Wave - Kay McKiernan, Detail

And I use the time to perhaps conduct an interview with an interesting exhibitor so I can then write an article for the magazine. 

Ruth Singer, 'Traces'

Ruth Singer with a quilt in her exhibition "Criminal Quilts"

One of the photos of prisoner women on their release from
prison that inspired Ruth Singer's exhibition

At FoQ, the one gallery that impressed me most was one the setup and preparation of which I had been following on Instagram, ‘The Button Box’. I was really impressed with the theme of the history of appreciation of textiles and needle work in recent centuries, and very touched by the quotes from literary works in which remarks about the importance and significance of textiles accompanied the works on the wall. It reminded me of a quote from a German turn of the 19th century novel by Gabriele Reuter, ‘From a Good Family’, which describes a young girl’s development from expectant girl from a good family to an old spinster, who will never be married and is completely disillusioned in the end. At some point towards the end of the novel she is sitting next to her ailing mother whom she is taking care of at that time, stitching some doily, and questions herself ‘how many superfluous doilies have I stitched in my life, by the way?’ I remember how deeply I was shocked when I first read that sentence. And that sentiment somehow was represented in that wonderful exhibition in Birmingham.

'Up in a Minute', Christine Chester
'Up in a Minute', Christine Chester, detail

So Birmingham is an important and interesting date for me, but very tiring. This year the Hilton did not have reliable wi-fi for the entire time of my stay, which is highly annoying. The quality of food has never been up to the price you have to pay for it, but that’s the price to have to pay for the other conveniences of being put up there. If I had to pay for my own hotel stay, I would certainly choose a different accomodation.
It’s good to be on vacation now with the family.

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