Friday, 19 March 2010

Quilts 1700 - 2010

The exhibition of quilts at the V & A was tremendous. Both my husband and my sister-in-law, neither of whom are quilters were equally impressed. The quilts were beautifully displayed, and the only disappointment was that, of course, you couldn't touch. I just longed to get up really close and personal with some of them.

The exhibition is split into five sections: The Domestic Landscape; Private Thoughts, Political Debates; Virtue and Virtuosity; Making a Living and Meeting the Past. Going to a preview was fantastic, as we were given a copy of the press pack, which gives a whole lot of detail, together with a pack of postcards.

Beware! The rest of this post is picture heavy. Some of the photographs I have grabbed from the V & A site, others I was able to take on the day (another perk of going to the preview, you aren't usually allowed to take photographs).
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This is the site that greets you as you enter the exhibition gallery, a wonderful set of patchwork hangings for a four poster bed, dated around 1730-1750. We were amazed at how vibrant the colours were. It is made of cotton, linen, fustian (?) and silk, worked in a clamshell design.
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This bed cover is dated about 1690 - 1750 and made of silk and silk velvet fabrics.

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This wonderful quilt was made in 1797, and is surely the equal of the Jane Stickle quilt, with its multiplicity of different blocks, which were pieced, appliqued and embroidered.

This quilt was made in 1803 -1805 and the centre panel is an applique of George III reviewing the troops. There are loads of different circle blocks around the centre, and some of the pieces were no bigger than a quarter of an inch!
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Absolutely breathtaking. Around the edges are more applique blocks showing different scenes.

Here is a detail from another coverlet with appliqued scenes, made in 1820.
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The Rajah quilt was one of the most touching quilts there. It was made in 1841 by women convicts being transported to Van Diemen's land (now Tasmania) on board the convict ship Rajah. Elizabeth Fry, who was a passionate advocate for prison reform (and can be seen on the £5 note), had arranged for the women to be given cloth and needles and thread before they left England, and they completed the quilt on their journey. It belongs to the National Gallery of Australia, and it's the first time it's been seen outside that country.
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I apologise for the flash marks on the next photographs, but it was such a wonderfully quirky quilt. It's an ABC of Love and Marriage, made around 1875.
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There are still more photographs to show you, as well as the fabric that I bought, so I'll share some more tomorrow.


Amelia said...

Very interesting photos...I am sure you all enjoyed the displays.

Clare said...

You are so lucky to get preview tickets. How did you manage it?

Oh I wish I wish I wish (sigh).

Looking forward to the next post.

Meredith said...

That is so neat you were able to attend, I am heading over in May to see the show.

Kate said...

WOW Amanda glad you had fun, I can't wait to see the fabric you bought, I love reproduction prints

Joy said...

Oh Wow!!! Fabulous pics, I really enjoyed looking at those. The first one is just out of this world!!!
Thanks so much for sharing,
Joy :o)

Candace said...

Thank you for sharing the pictures of the beautiful quilts, just amazing.

Heckety said...

These quilts are only amazing! Thank you for putting up so many photos! Does it tell you where they have been kept, the lesser known ones? And how they have kept their colour and not disintegrated? Like the bed curtains, for example?
Yes, more tomorrow please!!!

Anonymous said...

Wow what artistry. I am particularly taken with the applique- so detailed and tiny.

Sew Create It - Jane said...

Thanks for sharing the pics. I wasn't able to make it to the preview, but I hope to go down to see the exhibition in the next couple of months.

Bec said...

Stunning Clamshells! It looks like you had a fabulous time.