It takes months of preparation before we exhibit our quilts at The Old Library, Dulwich College. As always, there is a last minute flurry before husbands, friends and Dulwich Quilters members meet on the Friday to put up the show.
This year was no different except we had more quilts and we were celebrating our 30th anniversary as a group. Caroline Wilkinson and Linda le Pard are in charge of the hanging team and we had been given our various jobs and stations. Even the best made plans have the odd hiccup and we had quite a few! However when the doors opened on Saturday morning, it looked perfect as usual. Quilts of various sizes and colours hung down the middle and sides of the main room, the tea room had quilts pinned and hung all round the room and a display of Linus quilts were draped on a large immovable table. The entrance had the Sales area, the very popular Children’s quiz, the Chairman’s Challenge, the Group/Raffle quilt and the Pearl Anniversary quilt. Also exhibited close by to the Raffle Quilt was the History Board, especially redone for this exhibition, the Anniversary book and the CV book. Neither the History Board nor the Anniversary book would have been made possible without the archives that have been kept by Joyce Tunna. A lot of viewers took the time to read bits and pieces from the books as well as look at the various photographs and snippets that were displayed on our History Board.
The group quilt – A QUILT OF MANY COLOURS – was to be raffled in aid of HANDS UP FOR UGANDA – a worthwhile cause where all the money raised would go to help the village of Kisaabwa in Southern Uganda. PEARL ANNIVERSARY was a hanging of 30 individual 6” cream blocks and had been made to celebrate the group’s 30 years – it was admired by many viewers – and was a very elegant piece. The Chairman’s Challenge this year was Through the Lens and although there were fewer entries than in previous years, they were all very different and viewers, as always, showed a lot of interest in them. I had a chance to look at them carefully – one was spoilt for choice as to which was the best.
Dulwich Quilters are a very diverse bunch of ladies from all parts of the world and it shows in their work. As it was a very special anniversary, past as well as current members had been invited to show their work. It was especially satisfying to have quilts from those current members who were unable to produce new work this year and I was thrilled to see quilts from all six founder members hanging in the main room. This also included POSTAGE STAMP QUILT by Adele Corcoran who sadly passed away in 2003 – her children had loaned it to us for the exhibition. Her great friend and fellow founder member – Joyce Tunna – had her lovely BLUE & WHITE CHINA bed quilt hanging nearby – the hand quilting on that piece is exquisite. Lola Sotorres had two smaller bed quilts hanging there – as always her attention to detail and her hand quilting is to be admired. Barbara Laine uses detailed drawings from her many travels as inspiration for some of her work – I especially liked her FIRE FIRE! It was small but dramatic and I kept returning to look at it.
Jill Alexander’s piece, JAPANESE FANTASY, and Lindsay Symmes’ KIWI DREAMING are from the same pattern, but looked so different due to the background and fabrics; it is a great example of how important colour and fabrics are to a quilt. Jill’s work is very precise as was illustrated in all her pieces. I was also thrilled to see Joyce’s PUT TOGETHER WITH WORDS. Joyce had asked all the current members (in 2000) to give her a small block. These were put together on a blue background and Joyce had embroidered various sayings around each block and around the borders. Not only does it have something from each member from that year, it is the way Joyce has put it together and her choice of sayings add much interest and charm.
There were so many quilts there – one was spoilt for choice. There is something quite special about the large bed quilts and this year we had a fair amount. Elspeth Facer’s RANDOM, Lin Read’s FLOWERS MAKE ME HAPPY and Brenda Ferns STAR QUILT were all very different in matter but much admired especially Brenda’s Star Quilt. I thought Lin’s piece was very fresh, with a lot of detail and it was reversible. Equally jolly was Lindsay Symmes’ ALWAYS LOOK ON THE BRIGHT SIDE, a very apt title as Lindsay has that incredible ability to do so in life. I particularly liked Caroline Wilkinson’s two small pieces – A POEM IN CLOTH and her miniature NOT MUCH SUNSHINE PLENTY OF SHADOW – there was a larger hanging with the same title close by and they were both beautifully constructed. Linda le Pard’s SAM’S QUILT had been designed by her son, Sam. I don’t know whether he had chosen the fabrics as well but it was quite dramatic. Averil Batchelor’s TRAILING LEAVES is an example of how effective a simple design can be but it is her beautiful hand quilting and appliqué that brings this piece together.
There were many smaller hangings that were equally admired. Cleusa Collins’ THROUGH THE KEYHOLE had lots of visitors trying to guess whose photograph was behind the keyhole (David Bowie), Jenny Strong’s POLLI’S ARK and PIRATES! were great fun – for children and adults alike and I also liked Cleusa’s JAKE’S PICNIC MAT – simple but very effective. Meg Hammer’s WHERE I HAVE LIVED & WORKED was much admired and looked so good next to Elspeth Facer’s BARRIERS which was a very small but cleverly constructed piece.
The raffle was drawn on Sunday afternoon just before the exhibition closed. Because Bobby and Martin Britnell were in Uganda, the winning tickets were drawn by each of the founder members and Lindsay Symmes (she was brought up in Uganda as were Caroline and Sue). The quilt was won by two friends in Cambridge (they shared the ticket but how will they share the quilt?). I hope it is enjoyed as much as we did in making it. There were three worthy winners for the Visitor’s Choice – STAR QUILT by Brenda Ferns came first, NOT MUCH SUNSHINE PLENTY OF SHADOW by Caroline Wilkinson came second and Jill Alexander’s JAPANESE FANTASY came third. We managed to raise a sizeable amount for HANDS UP FOR UGANDA – the final figure is not yet known.
Taking down an exhibition is a doddle and in less than an hour, the Old Library was empty once again. As always we have to thank all our many helpers, especially those men who put up and take down the stands, to the advertisers for their sponsorship of our catalogue and the printer who did our fabulous catalogue, to our families and friends who support us and to the public for coming to our show. We could not produce this exhibition without all of them.
Our anniversary year is coming to an end. It has been an amazing year with so many activities and the exhibition was a perfect way to round it up. Not for long though – we will be back in 2018, so see you then!