Quilt artists that inspire us
Last month we spoke with three talented quilters who have had success exhibiting their quilts and winning competitions both in Australia and overseas, and we have had such positive feedback that we thought we’d bring you three more!
Each of these quilt artists are also conducting classes at AQC in Melbourne in April 2013. There are still a few places left and you can buy tickets to them online. In the meantime, grab a cuppa and enjoy the read.
Julie Haddrick’s most recent win was first place, Innovative Quilt category at the 2012 World Quilt Competition
Congratulations on your recent win for your quilt ‘Forever Journey’. Can you tell us a bit about your inspiration and the techniques used in this piece?
“Yes, this art quilt was designed and made for Heidi and Jon as a celebration of their marriage. As keen photographers and travellers, and lovers of good food and wine, the Forever Journey showed snapshots from their travels in Australia. The panoramic image is assembled from photographs taken on the Great Ocean Road and of the crumbling Twelve Apostles coastline” she explained. “I hand dyed, painted, coloured and printed most of the fabrics and used my ‘window view’ approach to illustrate the colours of dusk and early morning in the 2 inset panels.”
Your creativity spans fabric design, dying, quilt methods and more. What is your background and did it influence you toward the art of quilting?
“Well, I am a high school Visual Art teacher of some 35 years! In the last 15 I began doing what came naturally – quilting. I found I was using my art background to make art on fabric. I have always sewn, so being able to approach quilting using that background combined with my art meant that my quilts are always original and often quite different to the norm. I work with the philosophy that if something can be done on paper / canvas as a fine art technique then it can also be done on fabric. My first quilts were stained glass. That was because I had just made some stained glass windows for the renovations. My quilt teaching still draws much from my traditional art training as the concepts, elements and principles are so similar.”
And what can visitors expect at your upcoming AQC classes?
“Essentially, fun with playing while they learn a new technique. But my classes are also very structured and highly organised. I give out notes and have lots of samples. I like students to take away the knowledge, skill and confidence that they can do this at home. I empower students of all abilities to take risks and explore their own taste/identity. My vast experience (12 years quilt teaching) and extensive knowledge of colour and design means my students have access to lots of things that might not have been planned but I can help them to go off and explore.”
David Taylor currently lives in Colorado, USA. He embarked on his quilt journey in 1999. More than a decade later David travels 9 months of the year, exhibiting internationally and teaching.
Your graphic design background seems to work as a great foundation for your quilt designs, but where do you find your ‘inspiration’?
“All of my recent art quilts have been adapted from photographs, either taken by myself or from a professional photographer. The images have to tell a story, and that may sound like a cliché, but it holds true. The image should draw the viewer in to want to know more. I do like simple subject matter so that I can raid my fabric stash to create all of the details in the image. In all of my works, I want to capture the ‘essence’ of what is going on in the image.”
Do you attribute your success to any particular aspect of your work?
“Well I create my quilts for myself. For me, it’s all about the creative process. Something about a particular image grabs hold of me and I have to translate it with fabric. I need to have an emotional response to every piece I create, or how would I ever expect the viewer to have the same type of reaction. As a very ‘tactile’ person, I always have the need to ‘touch’ things; I love interesting textures. It’s all about the ‘petting.’ My patterns are drawn by touching the image – imagining how it feels. Hopefully that translates to the viewer and they feel an uncontrollable urge to ‘pet’ my quilts, in turn.”
What are you working on right now?
“Since I now travel 10 months out of the year, I’ve had to learn to balance my work and my art. But, at the moment I’m working on four quilts at one time: a Piecemakers pattern that had been packed away since I started it in 2003 and now want to finish to hang in my new home; a ‘storybook’ quilt that I began two years and can’t finish until I learn to hand quilt (!); a hand-pieced large pictorial work that will take years to finish; and, finally, another hand-appliquéd pictorial quilt featuring birds (my favourite topic).”
What can visitors to your AQC class expect?
“There’s always a lot of story-telling and laughter in my workshops. If it’s not fun, I don’t want to do it. Students are always asking when I am going to teach all the ‘science’ behind colour and the ‘correct’ way to choose those colours. I choose colour by emotion and my response to the fabric. I use the image as a starting line and the path I choose to follow may lead me in an entirely new direction.”
Gloria Loughman’s teaching style balances the gentle art of pushing boundaries with instilling confidence in her students’ creativity. She has also curated eight exhibitions of Australian quilts in the USA and written two books.
You have used the Australian bush landscape as your inspiration for a lot of your work. Is there any landscape style you still want to incorporate in your designs but haven’t yet?
I have used the Australian bush my quilts. In the beginning they were fairly realistic although I tried to push the colours, and I then played with pattern. Kimberley Mystique is an example of this period of my work. From this I went on to create more abstract quilts. My recent work combines my love of abstraction and the landscape. I have experimented with tiling my backgrounds to allow me to use hundreds of different textures and colours and I have written a book, Radiant Landscapes, which outlines these techniques. Currently I am obsessed with lines and have produced a number of smaller quilts which feature stylized contours in the landscape. Next, I am planning to make some quilts based on buildings. I would like to try designs based on architecture but once again play with the colours and patterns, making them more abstract than real life.
As a curator of eight exhibitions of Australian quilts in the USA, how is the Australian work received there?
Australian quilts are very highly valued and well received in America. Often viewers tell me they are ‘blown away’ by our colour schemes and we seem to be very adventurous. Many of our quilts are not so heavily quilted as in America, and many feel that this is refreshing. Many of the prize winners at the annual World Quilt and Textiles Competition are quilts from Australia. The winner of the Best Innovative quilt this year was Julie Haddrick from South Australia, who is teaching at AQC this year
What can visitors to your AQC classes expect?
In 2013 I am teaching two new classes, ‘The Linear Landscape’ and ‘Shades of the Forest’. Both these classes feature the new techniques that I have been playing with recently. In the Linear Landscape workshop we will be featuring the contour lines that delineate the gradient of the land and allow us to project wonderful movement in our design. We will look at focal point and perspective and examine a number of exciting colour schemes. There will be the opportunity to paint fabric and the quilts created in this workshop will be unique and full of movement and contrast. In the ‘Shades of the Forest’ class, the participants will learn tiling techniques to allow them to create a beautiful dappled sunshine background. They will then add detailed trees and foliage in the foreground with the chance to paint and to add further embellishment with machine embroidery.
What are you working on at the moment?
Currently I am working on more landscape quilts with strong linear elements. I have also just started a new big quilt that features multiple images and is based on the recovering vegetation after the bush fires. This is certainly a long term project and I have given myself a year or so to complete this work.