Wednesday, 22 August 2012

FoQing disappointment

Now I KNOW the British Quilting scene has modern exciting work being done - I've seen it online - but that is not what I saw in Birmingham at the weekend. I saw (and I'm not going to mince my words here so brace yourself...) a lot of ugly shit. Boring, trad, ugly, sludgy, poorly constructed... it was all there in various combinations. There were some traditional things done well but that doesn't set my heart on fire.

There were a couple of lovely modern quilts, Lu Summers did her bit with some yummy, modern colourful pieces (thank God for her!) and RatsasBigasCats big white on white piece, but nothing really made my jaw drop. No giant eye of hexagons, no deconstructed cleverness, no funny modern twists or anything of the like such as I saw last year.  It just felt like murky trad hobby hell had almost filled the hall and the good bits had been squeezed inbetween.

Some that won prizes were dreadful, at least one was already in a book available to purchase at the event showing it was made in 2010 and one quilt featured text in Comic Sans. COMIC SANS for goodness sake! That should make for an immediate disqualification from prize-winning (if not society as a whole) in my book.  Maybe I'm being a terrible quilt snob I thought... but then my twitter feed showed some similar thoughts elsewhere. So here I am saying it out loud.

Don't get me wrong it wasn't a day wasted, seeing Ratty with her quilt in the show was touching (as I talked her into submitting it) and the shopping was brilliant! Playing on the machines, asking advice of embroiderers, quilters, trying new products, bumping into quilt chums and the like was smashing and all too... but the quilts are the thing. There were some nice quilts on the stalls promoting the products but not IN the show. I wondered if why? If it's because that means allowing total access to folk to photograph it, to potentially touch it with un-gloved hands, or to send it somewhere uncurated? I don't know. 

It's not the friend-maker thing to say I know and I'm sure there were some very clever things that took a very long time, that I'm failing to appreciate - but this is my honest opinion. Maybe it's an off year, maybe it's my 'quirky' taste being hard to please... but still... We went there to get inspired, hoped to leave with the itch to get sewing and left disappointed.

The answer if you don't like it is, of course, bloody do something about it right? After all I don't blame the Twisted Thread people or the organisation, I blame us for not submitting them.

Modern quilt folk! Please, if you make something exciting, if it creates a stir online, please send it to the Festival of Quilts so that we can see it in person.  It's not about showing off but rather sharing the joy and giving folk the chance to see what's happening now! You should know that I'm going to be relentless about this, so you might as well just accept it now.

I left on Sunday even vowing to submit a quilt myself next year. So there you go, next year - I'm putting my efforts up to be sniped about judged by the trads and griped about by pissy bloggers... for my sins... and maybe they'll hate it. But I'll have tried.  

Motivation comes in strange places huh?  


  1. You are not alone. I took about a dozen pictures of quilts - all on a geometric/rainbow theme (I'm nothing if not consistent) - but I'll admit that a large chunk of them left me cold.

    I understand that they take skill, and there were plenty of people oohing and ahing over them, but my overriding thought was a quote(ish) from A E Housman - the standard of entries was not of such a high standard that my own offering might be considered an insult. Which is an overblown way of saying that I'm right there with you submitting something next year!

    I know the quilters guild worries where the next generation is going to come from. And I guess to move forward, they need modern quilters to step up and show alongside the traditional folk. Let's hope they make us welcome!

  2. yes, yes, yes, for god's sake enter some modern stuff, i felt very very alone!

  3. I completely agree. There was a great display of technical accomplishment but little to inspire. Some may not like it but exactly as madeinoxford says modern quilters need to be seen alongside traditional quilters (not as a separate entity) if we are to be considered 'the next generation' in this discipline. The FoQ should be a place where this can be facilitated and I for one will definitely be on the campaign to see this happen next year (I missed the boat for submitting this year) - Modern quilters unite!

  4. Here in france, the old women all love the traditional and fair play to them, they make awesome quilts, sludgy browns and often batiks...the modern movement is slowly being introduced and some of our small but local shows have had some quirky modern stuff, but your totally right, if you don't enter any, they can't show any...
    Is there a UK modern quilt show ?? I'd love to go to FOQ but mainly for all that shopping under one roof lol...

  5. I am working with Ferret to get more people entering in the sandown show because I had exactly the same response to that earlier in the year. I need to start promoting the idea soon but Ferret is sponsoring a prize for first timers. Come and join in, then we can all move on to FoQ!

  6. Right on for speaking your mind! Fight the power! I expect to see a sci-fi themed quilt in bright colours with your name on it at FOQ next year. ;)

  7. I flicked through my pictures today and I took less than 30 all day, last year I had hundreds to choose from and my mind was full of possibilities, this year nothing but blah.

    I hope that the modern quilters of the world read your post and are inspired to get entering next year.

  8. You know, about 10 years ago, I submitted something modern. It was judged lacking because the thread didn't blend and the quilting lines weren't straight. Now, I've made better stuff since. I've made some quite nice stuff since, I think. But I've never submitted cos bugger me, if they don't understand that the thread wasn't *meant* to blend and I *quite deliberately* don't have straight lines, then where do I start?!! I don't mind not winning. I do mind not even speaking the same bloody language as the judges. How do I improve what I do, if that's the starting point for feedback?

    So yes. Let's enter next year. I'm a bit old to be a young punk, but what the heck. I'm sure I've enough fight left to take on the Quilter's Guild...

  9. I didn't make it to FoQ this year but did hear that there were a lot of "sludgy browns" in there. I will wait to see photos but it does sound like there is a market for some nice sunny stuff in there.

    PS I am with you on the Comic Sans - years ago one of my clients used to prepare all of her documents in Comic Sans and it was very difficult to take anything she wrote seriously. I am all for freedom of speech but I think I can make an exception if it is in a ridiculous font. Ban it!