A Sense of Place and Time

Art 2 Stitch present a major exhibition of contempory textiles at Milton Keynes Museum until 26th April 2020

Today I did the usual Saturday morning guilty scroll though Facebook - but lucky for me I can accross a post about this exhibition, I had planned to get to Milton Keynes to do some shopping so rather than dash back I took the opportunty to allow myself some time to soak up some textile inspiration.  I am so pleased I did.  

I have never been to Milton Keynes Museum and to be honest I didn't really look at the museum as my purpose was to spend time at the exhibition, I did take a quick peek at the print shop (amazing) and the 'Hall of Transport' which houses the largest steam powered tram you will ever see, very impressive.   The entry of £10 for an adult includes repeat visits for 12 months so I will take the girls back another day.  So on to the New Gallery space to see some textiles....

I have to admit I wasn't familiar with the group 'Art 2 Stitch' so wasn't sure what I was going to see but the first piece hanging was a wonderful contempory quilt which was a great start!  The exhibition starts with an educational displace of different fibres and processes with samples of silk, cotton, flax and wool to touch and feel - lots of spinning wheels and pictures of historical fabric production.  

Then you reach the most impressive wearable art I have seen since Festival of Quilts last summer...

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This colourful number is called 'Diaghiler comes to the Party' by Sally Hutson - it evoked such joy and I would love to be able to wear something similar to a celebration, although I am not sure I would have the nerve!  

Pojagi wrapThis piece was also extremely impressive, Pojagi or Bojagi as I have heard it called before featured at Festival of Quilts last year and I was lucky enough to purchase a signed copy of Sara Cook's book on the technique.  This wonderful garment uses panels of Pojagi around the hem and sleeves and was truely inspiring, such careful construction and a really wearable piece of art.  This piece was created by Chris Marchant.

Another contempory quilt in the exhibtion used a similar transparent style and was a representation of the Biochemistry Building, so sorry I didnt make a note of which town or city the building is in. The piece was created by Kath Gunn.

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As well as the contempory quilts and textile art there was also a extensive collection of textile art which is from the private collection of one of the artists involved.  Several wall hanging were displayed detailing the cultural history of textiles and the stories told in the dying in stitch from various region of the world.  African clay cloth, kantha, shibori, colourful peruvian appliques.  There were draws full of things to look at, I found myself transfixed by a wide range of handbags and purses - unfortunately one of the handbags in a case had an unwelcome visitor, a moth!!! The two ladies who were stewarding today were grateful I spotted it and sent to get keys to remove the stowaway.  Both were so helpful and it was a pleasure to chat with further about Contempory quilts, the journal quilt challenge and favoured textile techniques.   Shelia is very new to the group and had just two pieces hanging, her enthusasium for the work was infectious and she encouraged me to look through the various sketchbooks and samples which are on display. 

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This piece is by Carol Taylor who was the second steward, we had a long chat about use of Tea Bags.  This more architectural piece is inspired by a Northampton Lighthouse.  Other pieces were inspired by a wide range of buildings including silverstone race circuit, Ardley Waste recycling and oxford colleges.  Somewhere based on natural places including my favourite:

hunstanton cliffs

It is quite hard to see the detail but the Hunstanton cliffs include photo transfers of sun bathers, an amazing texture which I think is achieved by layers of dyes and fabric paints.  There was not a lot of visible stitching as far as I could tell, this piece by Ann Beach really did catch my eye today.  

I would really recommend a visit to this exhibition, if you are a student of textiles there really is a lot to learn and lots of historic and global textiles to see.  If you like a good art exhibition you wont be disappointed either as there is a wonderful range of styles within the displays.  If like me you love everything fabric and thread then you just have to pop along - the sketch books and samples will keep you busy for ages, so nice to be able to touch things as well as marvel at the art and soak up some inspiration.  Thats all for now, time for me to get stitching! 

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