Friday, July 27, 2012

Report on Margaret Sampson George’s QSG of NSW talk on Medallion Quilts

On Saturday the 21st of July 2012, Margaret Sampson George spoke for the Quilt Study Group of NSW about Medallion or Frame Quilts. There were 68 in the audience in the Target Theatre at the Powerhouse Museum who came to hear Margaret Sampson George talk about her introduction to sewing and quilting, her love of medallion quilts, examine some quilts in detail and then to see examples of her work and her students’ work. Margaret discovered quilt making through her contact with the craft magazines that her US service wife friends read when living in Alice Springs. After making her first quilt, a log cabin, and then moving to Penrith, she and a friend enrolled in a patchwork class run by the Embroiderers’ Guild of NSW. The teacher, Audrey McMahon, allowed them to make 4 blocks, instead of a glasses case, and introduced them to Avril Colby’s “Patchwork” (her bible still) and the Lady's Circle Patchwork Quilts magazines and the Quilter's Newsletter Magazines.

A year later, she started teaching but saw there was a need for commercial suppliers of metal templates and quilting frames. She encouraged a local company to make these – thus beginning the successful start of JH Bonwick & Co’s quilting products manufacture. Now Margaret teaches whatever people want to do – “repeat blocks are not me”, she said. This is why medallion quilts have interested her – they are quirky, eccentric and traditionally are not made from a pattern but evolve. Her detailed examination of Joanna Southcott’s quilt ( which was stitched in the centre with her own hair, best exemplifies what attracts Margaret’s interest.

Margaret then discussed the historic reasons for the popularity of medallion quilts, the development of fabrics from the 1500s onwards (especially the quilt centres based on pastoral, floral, military or commemorative panels) and the importance of medallions for commemorating important dates in the makers’ lives (such as the New Zealand Martha Quilt – see the story of this wonderful quilt at -

She finds it wonderful that there are no two identical frame quilts yet found and loves the odd ones – those that are not “oversized mathematical behemoths”. She doesn’t believe that there is a mathematical formula applicable but can see how the Fibonacci principles could help when designing the width of the frames. She now loves renovating her centres to take advantage of new, brighter fabrics.

Margaret then took us through her quilts and those of her students. She started with the One Day Quilt she made in 1992.

This is her 'Not the Levens Hall' quilt.

Here are 2 centres inspired by the Jane Pizar Irish medallion quilt which is held at the Cheltenham Museum. The original can be viewed at (Barbara Brackman has a more detailed examination of the quilt on her blog). Marg discovered the quilt when she saw an ad for the museum in an 'English Country Living' magazine. The first example was made by one of Marg's students and the second one is Marg's version.

And this is the medallion quilt she made from available fabrics and sewed under the curfew during the coup when living in Fiji.

Margaret then shared a number of quilts her students have made including some made by Gay Drummond and Maree Spencer, who were in the audience. Thank you for letting us see your wonderful quilt tops.

And this is the last quilt Marg showed us. A group of her students made it for her. She never uses Visoflex, so for fun they used it when making the blocks.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Report on Judy Hooworth’s QSG of NSW talk on 26th May 2012

Judy Hooworth gave an extensive talk to the QSG of NSW at the Powerhouse Museum in May. She broke the talk into three topics. The first section of her talk covered the history of ‘The New Quilt Exhibition’. The second section covered the thoughts and recent works of selected current contemporary quilters who have exhibited their works in ‘The New Quilt’ exhibition or its successor.
And the last part of Judy’s talk was the story of her quilting journey.

Quilting really took off in Australia in 1981. By the time Judy Hooworth and Anna Brown were on the Guild’s committee in 1992, they knew that recognizably Australian quilts were being made and it was time to also see quilts as ‘works of art’, not just as bed coverings. The committee accepted their proposal to start ‘The New Quilt Exhibition’ to showcase such quilts, so they took some of their own representative quilts to a list of museum and art galleries to gather support. Michael Pursche, then director of the Manly Art Gallery and Museum (and who was also in the audience), agreed to provide the venue for the exhibition. The benchmark for the first show was USA’s Quilt National, and the first catalogue produced for The New Quilt Exhibition has ensured continuing recognition of the event. Judy showed us the cover of every catalogue produced and took us through the themes and notable developments shown by quilters at each exhibition. She noted that while one third of the entries in the first exhibition had some surface design and two thirds used commercial fabrics, in the most recent exhibition 15 of the 19 exhibitors made their own fabrics. She encouraged all of us to submit proposals for future exhibitions because it is important to our work to ask ourselves three important questions: ‘What are we making? Why? And what have I made before?’ There are no prizes given but the reward is the privilege of being accepted into the Exhibition. Judy’s final piece of advice: ‘Take courage to submit a proposal’.

For the second section of her talk, Judy approached quilt artists who had exhibited in The New Quilt Exhibitions and asked them to provide her with digital images of their recent and earlier works, and to tell her what was the highlight of their career so far. It was remarkable to see how their quilts had changed and to hear the highlights. Those who responded included Yvonne Line, Barbara Macey, Pamela Fitzsimons, Alison Muir, Alveena Hall, Dianne Firth, Greg Somerville, Susan Matthews, Glennis Mann, Carolyn Sullivan, John Parkes, Anna Brown and Sue Cunningham.

In the final section of her talk, Judy took us through her artistic journey in textiles, her awards and the publications to which she has contributed. She started stitching with Noreen Dunn in the Cottage Quilters group in 1981. In 1985 they joined forces to start a business, Quiltek, and had a stall at the Craft Expos from 1985 to 1987. They both taught and sewed on consignment. Judy said she ‘concentrated on colour, Noreen on maths’.

Judy has always worked on series of quilts and showed us examples from every one of them. She started with her 1986 Double Homage series, inspired by Amish quilters, which marked the start of her career as a contemporary quilt maker.

By 1993 her fascination with the log cabin series led to her first entry into USA’s Quilt National.

In 1995 and 1997, the red, white, yellow and black colours in road barriers sparked her ‘Urban Landscapes’ series.

Her move from Terrey Hills to Morriset in 2004 led to the latest change in Judy’s work. As she initially had no studio or commercial fabrics to use, she started experimenting with plain white fabric torn into strips, layered, slashed and painted.


Her inspiration comes from nearby Dora Creek and she is now back to working with simple pieced and collaged quilts. When she lost her husband three years ago, she started work on her latest quilts – the Black Water series – which are hand painted, monoprinted, discharge-dyed and worked with oil pastels on the top of the fabrics.

Cancellation of Dr Annette Gero's talk on 11th August 2012 for the National Trust Parramatta

Unfortunately the 11th August talk by Annette Gero for the National Trust Parramatta on 'The Fabric of Society' and the Frederica Josephson coverlet has been cancelled. It will be rescheduled to a date in 2013.