The National Wool Museum in Geelong is showing Expressions 2012: The Wool Quilt Prize exhibition which celebrates contemporary wool quilt making. The biennial exhibition features 26 unique handmade quilts by some of Australia’s best quilt makers.
The quilters have used a range of quilting techniques and formats to explore such diverse themes as bush fire, public service bureaucrats, memory, and even the symbol ‘x’. Many of the quilts reference the Australian landscape including the 2012 prize winning quilt Out There by Carolyn Sullivan, from Bundanoon in NSW. Sullivan’s work was inspired by the sweeping landscape view from her property. In the exhibition catalogue Sullivant states: “Out there refers to the wide view of the undulating land extending from our home acreage towards the escarpment and the coast. There are also the millions of small organisms that live out there. As well, out there is the vast Australian landscape which I find thrilling.” The quilt is made from wool gauze (Nuns’ veiling) and cotton thread, and features plant dyes, shibori (a Japanese term for several methods of dyeing textiles) and hand stitching.
Out There (detail), Carolyn Sullivan. Wool gauze (Nuns’ veiling), cotton thread. Plant dyes, shibori, hand stitching. Image courtesy National Wool Museum.
The Highly Commended Prize was awarded to Kate Martin’s Ada and Arthur – Young Love and Long Dreams. Martin’s artist statement reads: “Inspired by a 2″ sepia photograph of my parents on their engagement in 1938. The promise of dreams to be filled and a life to be well lived. The blanket, time worn and comforting, wraps around me with treasured memories, values, life skills and knowledge, love, loss and a lingering presence.” Martin made the quilt from recycled wool blankets (as are several quilts in the exhibition) and she applied soluble ink, pencils and crayons, as well as hand and machine quilting.
The awards were judged by prominent art quilter and judge Dijanne Cevaal at a special event held at the museum just before Christmas.
For this exhibition, a ‘quilt’ is defined as a ‘stitched and layered textile’ and entrants were encouraged to explore beyond the bounds of traditional quilt-making. Some of the more unusual and contemporary works in the exhibition subvert the conventional format of the quilt. Marianne Penberthy’s Core Beliefs is a three dimensional textile installation. Penberthy has presented woollen blankets, cut and rolled into cylinders, and dyed in the warm colours of the Western Australian outback. In her artist statement Penberthy explains: “Core samples from the mining industry examine the layers of rock structures which lay unseen beneath the surface of the earth. This installation of sixteen core samples has been constructed with old woollen blankets and is an exploration into the layering of personal belief systems.”
Core Beliefs, Marianne Penberthy. Old woollen blanket, mattress ticking, cotton and polyester threads, hand quilting, machine stitching, resist dye. Images courtesy National Wool Museum.
Low Tide, by Dianne Firth from the ACT, was inspired by the pattern and colour of mud flats at low tide. Made from wool felt, polyester net and polyester thread, Firth’s quilt assumes an ephemeral quality as light and shadow play through the transparent polyester netting. As the quilt sways ever so gently in the air, the moving shadows suggest rippling water. Firth writes: “As a child, observing the diurnal transitory nature of the advancing and receding tide was a mesmeric experience. Today it still conjures up the smells, sounds and memories of summer holidays.”
Low Tide, Dianne Firth.Wool felt, polyester net, polyester thread. Reverse applique, machine stitching, machine quilting. Image courtesy National Wool Museum.
The exhibition runs until 3 February 2013 and the People’s Choice Award is available throughout the exhibition so members of the public can vote for their favourite work.
Expressions 2012: The Wool Quilt Prize
Until Sunday 3rd February 2013
26 Moorabool Street, Geelong.
Entry fees: $4.00 per child (2-15 yrs), $7.50 per adult, $6.00 concession or just $25 per family (2 adults and up to 4 children). The Museum is open 9.30am-5pm on weekdays and 10.00am-5.00pm on weekends.
• Expressions 2010 Wool Quilt Prize