Art in London, Current Exhibitions London
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Quilts at the Victoria and Albert Museum London

If any of you gallerists are wondering where all the people are, I can tell you, they are at the V&A looking at Quilts. Yes quilts, not strictly art but close enough (!) and none the less for it. Being a closet admirer of old American Quilts, I was interested to see some home spun English Quilt Heritage spanning the last 300 years.

It was a rare sunny Tuesday afternoon and the V&A was packed with people enjoying the weather I thought. After ten pounds to get in to ‘Quilts’ I found out , I had to wait for an allotted a time slot an hour and half’s time later. Quilting was once termed ‘housewife art’ but is fast becoming the art of the moment, a block buster, judging on the attention it is attracting.

With recycling and make do on everyone’s agenda, the needlecrafts have taken a hold again, sewing is the fashion despite or in spite of, the ready made and I consider it is the result of a backlash to the age of technology. A desire for the home spun and home made has us craving and revelling in nostalgia for a life moving at a slower pace. We can but marvel at the patience and precision these early quilters spent produced bedding and clothing. How come they had so much time? Some of them were convicts on a ship to Australia, some of them Ladies locked in their castles dreaming of a life outside. I imagine that budding quilters inspired by the exhibition in the future will be on the tube getting in a few stitches between stations on their way to meetings.

Quilted clothing dating from the Second Century AD was found in Mongolia and appears to have taken a hold in Europe in the 12th Century, and later Harriet Powers an Africa American living in 1898 produced appliqué story quilts and inspired many generations of quilt makers after. This is an art form here to stay.

Think Tracy Emin and Turner Prize Winner Grayson Perry continuing the tradition, artists both and represented in the show. I like to think that there are some just as amazing examples out there being made right now. What I like about quilting is that it can be a sociable experience one that brings people and ideas together and analogically history is being created not tweet by tweet but stitch by stitch.
Then, remember the Aids Memorial Quilt? It is a quilt weighing an estimated 54 tons and is it is ongoing and is as of 2010 the largest piece of community folk art in the world. Check it out here:


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