Joe Cunningham heading to Melbourne

Joe Cunningham profile

Intocraft caught up with Joe Cunningham as he was packing his bag to head to the AQC in Melbourne.

Joe had a career as a musician when he, by chance, was booked by quilter Gwen Marston to play guitar with her at some folk music concerts. Gwen was working at the time on documenting Mary Schaefer’s quilt collection. When Joe saw some of the quilts his interest peaked. Soon Joe was asking to write the text for the catalogue, reading whatever quilt history books he could to increase his knowledge, and learning to hand quilt. In no time Joe began his first quilt and had decided that quilting was his way forward in life and set about establishing himself as a quilting professional.

Fast forward 40 years and Joe has taken his workshops and lectures around the world, has contributed projects and articles to numerous publications, appeared on several quilting television programs and written several books including the celebrated Men and the Art of Quiltmaking.

At the AQC, Joe will present two one-day classes and a two-day class all of which are sold out. He will also present a lecture titled ‘My Life in Quilts’ where Joe will share his quilting story, show a number of his works and even bring along his guitar. It promises to be an entertaining lecture. For more info click here http://aqc.com.au/thursday-lecture/.

We were keen to know how Joe is feeling about his upcoming trip to Australia. Joe explained, “Having heard that Melbourne is designated one of the best places in the world to live, I am looking forward to seeing what life there is like. Unfortunately, I am not in Australia for long so won’t have a chance to travel and see much more of the country.”

When Joe visits somewhere new he likes to check out museums. “I will somehow find time to go to the National Gallery and at least one of the modern art museums,” Joe explains.

And if there is time, Joe says, “I walk a lot, and I love to walk where there are only natural sights. So if I can get to parks or the beach or anywhere I can walk in nature that’s what I will do for inspiration for my own quiltmaking.”

And what does Joe think about Australian quiltmaking? “Australia strikes me as a place where quilters have been free to invent their own tradition, and consequently have taken interesting and sometimes thrilling new paths. Having entirely different sets of cultural reference points and its own history of patchwork, Australia has been able to be a place where a freedom of expression shines through its quilts.”

Photography by Henrik Kam.

Patchwork Quilt 2012
Patchwork Quilt 2012

New York Beauty, 2015
New York Beauty, 2015

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