Modern Quilts by Local Makers Exhibition 2015 - my effort to spread the word about the creative talent on our doorstep!

From September 11th to 13th I organised an exhibition of over 35 quilts in the venue where I teach my weekly classes, Ilkley Playhouse.  I did a smaller version 18 months ago to celebrate World Quilting Day but this show was more ambitious, and attracted around 500 visitors. My main incentive was to show people what a fantastic, creative community exists in and around Ilkley and also to try and dispel the myth that quilting and patchwork is outdated and uncool. Often when I speak passionately to people about quilting I know they simply don't get it,  so persuading them to come along was a challenge. However, lots of people showed their support and everybody was inspired and impressed by what they saw. Here are a few comments from the visitors book: - 

"What an amazing achievement!  Interesting to think of them as artworks that are so personal that they can't be sold - and all the more precious for that."

"Absolutely beautiful, I am so inspired - vibrant and colourful and really touching."

"Inspirational and we are in awe of such amazing talent."

There was plenty more praise with loads of people talking about going home and dusting off their sewing machines to have a go. 

It wouldn't have been a success without lots of helpers hanging quilts, running stalls, bakings cakes and giving up a lot of their time to volunteer so a big thank you to everybody.  

Here is an overview of the show, starting with my welcome blurb:-

"I learnt to quilt in Toronto 10 years ago. The Canadians in the local sewing shop couldn’t believe that an English girl didn’t know the basics of patchwork, especially paper-piecing, and welcomed me with open arms.

There are only so many quilts you can sew for your children, and my husband was worried I may keep having babies to feed my habit, so I started to teach others how to do it instead. That was about 5 years ago informally, and 3 years ago I set up classes here at Ilkley Playhouse.

 Every piece of work on display here has been made by a friend that has come into my life through a shared interest in sewing. The community aspect of quilting is something really special. People genuinely appreciate and encourage each other’s skills and share their own knowledge freely, without competition or self-interest. I think that is why I love it so much, not to mention the opportunity to buy loads of beautiful fabrics, drink tea and eat cake.

 I put this exhibition together to show the many varieties of quilts that can me made – some are very technical and others are simple in design- but all have a story. Making a quilt takes time and people invest a lot of themselves in the process, what they create is unique and invaluable., a possession to be treasured and held on to, not simply consumed and eventually thrown away.

 I hope you enjoy having a look around and, as with the last exhibition in March 2014, that some of you are inspired to give it a go!

 Jenni Smith


You can also see more photographs from the show on my Facebook page, Sew with the Flow.

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