The last weekend of October saw the 18th annual Open European Quilt Championship take place in Veldhoven in the Netherlands. This is the last year that the Championship will be held in Veldhoven: from 2015 it will be held in Maastricht (also in the southern Netherlands, but more easily accessible from Germany, Belgium and France) at the MECC conference centre, a larger and more up to date facility. It is also about three times as far for me to travel, so I certainly wasn’t going to miss this year’s championship that was closer to home!
The Championship has competition quilts (thematic and non-thematic) as well as invited exhibits from around the world and a number of quilt shop booths. The Championship quilts are also further sub-divided into Traditional and Art Quilts and novice, intermediate and advanced categories. This year there was also a separate long-arm category.
The quality varies hugely, but overall I thought the quilts were of a higher standard this year than last. The themed quilts were made to reflect the theme ‘Old Masters’ and it was clear that quilters had struggled with this a lot: many of them not progressing past a quilted depiction of Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring (lots of those!) or a cloth version of some other famous painting, which I thought was a shame. It only goes to show how vital a good (and broadly interpretable) theme is if you want a good result! This meant that this year the non-thematic quilts were the most interesting. The display method is also unusual, as the quilts are not hung against drapes or panels, but hang ‘loose’ in rows in the space: this means that the back of every quilt is visible. That is interesting and fun of course, but it also makes taking photo’s very difficult (as you can see through and round quilts to the ones in the next row) and also means there is a lot going on visually in the space, which can make it harder to concentrate on the impact of an individual quilt. I’ll be interested to see if this changes next year.
From the hundred of quilts on display there were several that really cough my attention, including a fabulous scrappy log cabin in a barn raising setting in a huge assortment of warm cream and red tones. The quilt was 260 x 260 cm so really had an impact.
In the art quilt category there was also a very effective monochrome portrait of one of the Netherlands most well known actresses, Carice van Houten. The quilt used almost exclusively white, black and grey fabrics, some plain some patterned, with two pieces of a very muted pink to build up this stunning pieced and appliquéd work. Big stitching gave texture to the features from close up. Unsurprisingly, this 75 x 75 cm quilt won both a ‘ Judges’ choice’ award and an Award of Merit.
Another quilt that I really liked, but that was difficult to photograph was a diptych, each with the same number of intricate blocks and that used scraps from the maker’s 23 years of quilt fabric leftovers. Each quilt was 104 cm square. There was a very nice subtle flow of colour from one quilt to the next.
But my favourite from the competition quilts was a pieced and appliquéd quilt depicting a tree with crows and inspired by the work of romantic painter Caspar David Friedrich. The quilt was exquisitely pieced, appliquéd and then long-arm quilted and embroidered. It had a very subtle play of colours in the 16-patch blocks that formed the background landscape and the sky. It won the long-arm quilting award.
There were some really interesting invitational exhibits this year, including quilts by Dijanne Cevaal, from Australia, who was one of the judges and was also available to talk about her work. She had a series of quilts inspired by Norman sculptures and tapestries from the 11th and 12th centuries that are made of her hand-dyed fabrics that she patterns prior to piecing and quilting with a combination of screen printing and shibori techniques.
The Hungarian Quilter’s guild also had an interesting display of very high quality work, with one truly dramatic balck and white quilt that had an extraordinary 3D depth: one felt as if it was possible to reach into it and round behind the central column.
There was also an exhibit from the Israeli Art Quilt group ‘Encounters’ with pieces all inspired by biblical quotes. I particularly liked several quilts that used pomegranates as a recurring motif.
A series of quilts by Russian quilt teacher Elena Folomyeva had plants as a recurring theme. The quilting and appliqué on the quilts were both plant related, the quilting echoing the structure of the plant. These quilts green with white, so tricky to photograph, but very effective. They were also exhibited at this years Festival of Quilts in Birmingham in England.
The display from the Danish Quilters Guild, included a lovely little quilt about Rhubarb. The leaves and stalks were 3D and the quilting took the form of letters that explained how to harvest and cook it. Unfortunately I can’t find the full name of the quilter for this one: when I find it, I’ll add it to the page. I think her first name was Karin.
So all in all a worthwhile trip: I got a lot of inspiration from the quilts and the buzz of happy quilters and also bought a Daylight™ LED lightboard (as flat as a pancake!) to use for tracing all those autumn leaves. No more taping my patterns to a window of improvising with a lamp under my sew steady™ transparent table insert! Hopefully I’ll be reporting next year from Maastricht!