The Birmingham Quilt Festival is the largest quilt gathering in Europe, which is why I love to travel to the UK in August.
There I meet quilters from Norway to Normandy and the Netherlands, and I discuss quilting with Russians and Romans. I take photos of quilts made in Paris and Prague, and have coffee with Scottish and Spanish quilters. Then I try to make sense of it all, and share the experience with you, over the following month.
As the Japanese quilts have a distinctive look and feel, and as Australian quilts have their own unique color palette, I enjoy seeing the diversity among the European quilts that come to the Birmingham show.
Here is a detail of a stunning quilt that attracted a lot of attention. It is "Da Vinci's Knots" by Laura Amiraglio - an Italian quilter as you may have guessed. At first glance you might think "Celtic" because of the interlaced knotwork, but the colors remind us of the stucco and frescoes of Tuscany. Click through to my photo page for the allover photo of this intricate quilt.
One of the games I play there is to guess the country of origin for the outstanding quilts. This year I noticed many quilts from Taiwan which was rather exhilarating! There were of course many British-themed quilts - considering that the show took place in Birmingham UK- and these quilts celebrated everything from English poetry to London's urban transportation system.
The quilts that expressed a piece of the quilter's culture were usually bursting with graphic eye-catching elements. Often the quilter was not trying to create a nationalistic quilt, but they created something that evoked their homeland anyway, because their life has been steeped in the flavors of their native juices.
It gave me a lot to think about. If I were to make a quilt that expressed my American experience, what might that be? When I express myself freely through my textile art, does it say that I am American, or that I am a Citizen of the World?
Do your quilts express your nationality - consciously or unconsciously?
If diversity is the spice of life, then the Birmingham Quilt Festival is a goulash, a tikka masala, a bouillabaisse, a jambalayah and a waterzooi of creative visions. The European quilters play with scrumptious fabrics and groundbreaking techniques, and end up with a smorgasbord of eye candy.
eQuilter is sponsoring the SAQA exhibit from the Birmingham quiltfest, to be shown next week at IQCAfrica 2013 in Johannesburg South Africa. (Fellow Coloradan - Ricky Tims will be teaching there!) If you are going to this show, please send us photos of our eQuilter sponsored exhibit and let us know how you liked the IQCAfrica show.
See our videos from the Birmingham Quilt Festival on our eQuilter video page!