Posted by: marymarthatours | November 28, 2013

A Double Delight at the Welsh Quilt Centre

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Martha and Jen Jones at the Welsh Quilt Centre

DSCN4917Early in the planning for our 2013 Quilt and Textile Tour in the UK, I knew that the Welsh Quilt Centre in Lampeter, Wales, would be a ‘must’ stop.  Jen Jones has been collecting and selling vintage Welsh quilts for a number of years.  In 2009, with the help of her husband, she created the Welsh Quilt Centre to exhibit quilts from her collections and sometimes to also display quilts from other collections.

DSCN4895Welsh quilts have their own unique history and style.  Some have patchwork (pieced) tops but most have whole cloth (one fabric only) tops.  The beauty is in the hand quilting patterns of swirls, spirals, and geometric shapes that spread across the top with no regard for the patchwork design when the top has been made of pieced together fabric patches.  The patterns and hand stitches are wonderful.

To my delight, I discovered after I had booked our visit to the Welsh Quilt Centre that the exhibit at the time of our visit would be a duel display of Kaffe Fassett quilts and vintage Welsh quilts.  Kaffe is renowned for his vibrant use of color and bold patterns.  The contrast of his quilts and the delicate Welsh quilts is almost extreme.  How would they ever go together?

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Our visit proved to be an experience of amazement.  We were greeted by Jen and led into the gallery space where we fell into a collective awe.  The Fassett quilts were hung from the ceiling at various angles and heights.  The Welsh quilts were displayed on the walls and draped on beds under the Fassett quilts.  The Welsh quilts were arranged so that you viewed the pale colors near the door and then, as you moved around the room, the quilt colors changed and darkened.  In this way, both the Fassett and the Welsh quilts created a color wash as the colors and hues changed.  I remarked, “It is art made from art.”

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We thoroughly enjoyed Jen’s hour long presentation with slides about Welsh quilts.  And many of us returned again to the gallery to stand in wonder amid the glorious display of the quilts.  Either style of quilt is wonderful to see, but the two styles together made each even more spectacular.

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And for those of us who will be traveling on the 2014 Spring Gardens of Cornwall and Devon Tour, there will be an opportunity to see the work of Kaffe Fassett again.  Next spring, the American Museum in Bath will feature a major retrospective of Kaffe’s life and work.  He was born and grew up in California where his creative life in art began.  As a young man, he moved to the UK and there carried his artistic talents into knitwear, needlepoint, and quilting.  Guess where I will be on my free afternoon in Bath?

(by Martha)

Photo credits:  All photos copyright by Mary Wallace.

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Responses

  1. Wow – what a treat! I’ve seen Welsh quilts at St. Fagan’s, a display years ago, and was so taken with their delicacy and elegance — and have made about 9 Fassett quilts mostly in bright and vivid colours, but not using his fabrics (which cost a fortune). My favourite (and the easiest for me) of his patterns is the diamond-within-diamond you have posted near the end of this article. My sons each have one and haven’t a clue that the one on my bed in my home is the exact same pattern, just different prints. I’ve also seen gorgeous silk quilted waistcoats at St. Fagan’s, very fine, teensy stitches, very Mr. Darcy in pale yellow with flowers and leaves in the quilting. The quilters who survived must have left a genetic legacy of excellent eyesight — some eager researcher could test that out.

  2. Thanks for the memories; it was a fascinating visit to be sure.

  3. Clearly what we all need is staff. With appropriate staffing levels, we could have our personal quilts all hung perfectly with correct lighting. (Oh dear, is the correct lighting for my awkward stuff a dim bulb in a far corner?).

    It is lovely to see photos from a museum that takes quilt portrayal seriously. Thanks for sharing!


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