Every Autumn, the Dutch Quilters Guild (‘Quiltersgilde’ in Dutch) holds its annual exhibition: a show open only to members of the guild. This year the exhibition was held in the pretty town of Alkmaar in North Holland, most famous for the cheese market. The huge yellow cheeses (about 13.5 kg or 30 pounds each) are carried on special flat wheel-less barrows by members of the Cheese Carriers Guild, inspected (even tasted!) on the market square and sold for a price per kilogram, then weighed at the weighing house to determine the precise value of the sale. Alkmaar started selling cheese in this way in 1365, and it is still done in more or less the same way as it was then. Several tonnes of cheese are sold each time.
Alkmaar has lots of pretty buildings and canals: a very characteristic Dutch town.
The exhibition was held in the huge Church of St. Lawrence which was built in 1470. It proved impossible to photograph from the front, as it is in the middle of the town, and the streets are so narrow that you can’t get far enough away!
It is a very impressive space inside, and was a lovely setting for the exhibition, although the light streaming in through the windows (it was a sunny day) made photography a bit of a challenge!
The exhibition had a vendors area in the nave, and the quilts for the exhibition hung in the side aisles, the transepts, chancel and sacristy.
The vendors were doing good business, and there was a cheery hum of voices in the church. Quilts were in two categories: those submitted under the theme for this year, which was ‘Reflections’ and those in the general classification. It was up to the individual quilters how they interpreted the theme: many did so literally, but some entered quilts that they had reflected upon in some way. There were over 200 quilts, of varying quality, from beginners to professionals, and from traditional to art quilt. What follows are a few of the quilts that caught my eye.
Quilts on the theme ‘Reflections’:
Jacqueline Bouma’s quilt was chosen for the exhibition poster. It had beautiful Sashiko stitching, and was inspired by the serenity of Japanese woodblock prints.
Riet Klein-Schuurman used a pattern by Grace Errea to make this quilt, which translates as ‘Reflection’. It was fascinating how, from a distance, the swan ‘read’ as white, when it was built up of blues and greens.
Corrie van Leeuwen based her quilt ‘Trees in a (muddy) puddle’ on a woodcut from 1952 by the well-known Dutch artist M.C. Escher – ‘The Puddle’. It was extraordinarily life-like.
There were quite a lot of swan quilts: this one, ‘Reflection in a pond’ by Riet de Jong-Bol is also based on a pattern, but unfortunately I don’t know the name of the designer. The water was beautifully built up of blues and purples, with a huge variety of fabrics.
Anja Kok’s quilt was also a reflection – in this case reflecting back on the 15 years that she lived in Spain.
The following quilts were all in the general classification of the show:
‘Tulips and Tiles’ was the title of this very Dutch looking quilt by Ineke Scheepbrouwer-Smeenk. It was beautifully constructed: all those sharp points!
There were a number of quilts that used the colour wheel or the colours of the rainbow as inspiration.
Marjan Reinders ‘Every day a thread’ was inspired by a meeting with Jinny Beyer.
Gerdien Domberg made ‘During 2014’ for her son’s wedding. It measured 109″ by 109″ and included 14098 tiny hexagons!
Gert van Raalten’s ‘Jinny Beyer quilt’ was made from a Jinny Beyer collection fabric pack.
Joke Spaans-Stolp fell for this monkey wrench pattern and raided her entire stash to make her quilt ‘Joy of recognition’.
There were also a number of traditional quilts, including a few medallion styles, such as were popular in Europe in the late 18th century.
The name of this quilt reflects that it was made as part of Kathryn Kerr’s 365 challenge – a block-a-day program that lasts a year. The ‘Quintet’ part of the title is for her husband, who plays the organ. There was an identical quilt in a different colour scheme hanging next to it!
Marleen Wijn-Jooren also completed Kathryn Kerr’s 365 challenge. Her quilt is called ‘The World Keeps Turning’ as she usually made her block in the evening whilst watching the Dutch current affairs programme of the same name. There was a third version of this quilt in the show too, made with light blues.
Ally Arkema-Eerkens made herself a version of the patchwork coverlet that English author Jane Austen made more than 200 years ago, and that can still be seen at Jane’s former home in the village of Chawton in England. This year is the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death, so a Jane Austen quilt is very timely. All the fabrics came from the same fabric range, so everything coordinated beautifully.
That a traditional quilt doesn’t have to have traditional fabrics was also demonstrated at the exhibition.
Joke de Bruijn-van de Pol’s ‘Dear Jane’ (one of three in the show) used very bright colours, including a neon yellow: I think Jane Stickle would have been quite surprised! ‘Joke’ is a woman’s name in Dutch (pronounced yoh-kuh), and the title is a play on that and the English word ‘joke’ because of the colours she used.
Another most unusual quilt used a combination of cross-stitch embroidery and patchwork.
Atie Teeuwissen is a quilter. She made this quilt together with her husband: he is an embroiderer, something he has been doing for 56 years, ever since they first met. This quilt ‘Unique Christmas Quilt’ was the product of them joining forces! The embroidery was incredibly small and fine.
There were also a number of a folk art style quilts, including one based on an antique quilt in the collection of the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.
Hetty de Wijs was inspired by an English quilt from 1797 (the date is on the quilt) in the collection of the museum. The original is made of pale tans and blues, with touches of pink, but Hetty decided to make hers in dark blues and browns.
Wilma Brouwer-Homberg used Bonnie Sullivan’s ‘Bonnie’s Garden’ pattern to make this lovely quilt ‘My Secret Garden’ ; she replaced the heart in the middle of the quilt with a third red flower.
Ineke Goulmy-Hendriks was inspired to make this dramatic quilt, ‘Garlanded Wreath’ by an article about the history of another family’s quilt in Quiltmania.
It was beautifully hand appliquéd and quilted.
There were also quite a few tree-of-life quilts this year.
Every block in Anneke Wieldraaijers quilt is inspired by a Bible text. The blocks come from the book ‘Biblical Blocks’ by Rosemary Makan.
Clazien Zwaan’s tree-of-life quilt was the result of a block-swap in her local guild.
There were also a lot of blue and white quilts, a very popular colour combination in the Netherlands for many centuries, as evidenced by Delft Blue tiles and porcelain. So that is what this mini-show ends with.
Liddy Pauw’s gorgeous quilt was hand appliquéd and quilted. It was made of lovely soft blues on a creamy-white background.
It was a fun day at the exhibition, and I am looking forward to next year, when the theme is ‘Fly with me’.