Celebrating Diversity of Tribes
Every year, the European Patchwork Meeting in Val d`Árgent, France organizes an international contest open to the quilters from all over the world. This year's theme was “Tribes”, and the contest’s participants were invited to explore the feelings of community, family and tradition.
It was the first time when I participated in a quilt contest and I was honored that my
quilt “A Fox Was There… Sami Land” was amongst the 30 finalists.
The diversity of the works on display in terms of techniques, details, colors, patterns and interpretations was absolutely incredible. Each quilt told a story in its own way.
I was completely captivated by the amazing work “Tapayuna” by Silvia ROHDEN (Brazil), which powerfully pictures a mother and child from a Brazilian indigenous tribe. She used free motion quilting, textile collage, wool embroidery, as well as mixed media (natural fibers from the Xingu region and banana leaves), to create a stunning piece of art that deservedly won the prestigious Clover award.
Every year at the contest there are quite a high number of participants from Korea, with this year being no different, featuring 7 works by Korean artists. Their style was very distinctive: highly technical works, impeccable craftsmanship, precision piecing, and well thought palettes and subjects.
Here is a fragment of the quilt "A Starlit Night in Seoul" by Hyunjung SONG (paper piecing, machine piecing, machine quilting, thread sketching). It appears to me that that artist´s color inspiration for this work came from Van Gogh. Simply beautiful and poetical.
"Farmers Band Music, Pray for Good Harvest" by Jayeun Shin (machine applique, machine quilting). This work beautifully combines Western (optical illusion background) and Ethnic (costumes and customs) styles to represent the unity of modernity and traditions. The dynamic and rhythmic palette chosen by the artist as well as the arrangement of the dancers makes you feel the beat of the traditional Korean farmers music.
It is incredible how much thought goes into creating an art piece. Here is a fragment of the quilt "Three-Legged Crow in the Sun " by Kyung Ah Cho (machine piecing, machine quilting, digital embroidery, hand painting). The artist´s statement "The national bird of Goguryeo, one of ancient dynasties in Korea, is three-legged crow... It was considered as the good omen linking the gods in the heaven with the human world. Furthermore, this works wishes the contribution on world peace and well-being by delivering the aliant spirit of Goguryeo people shooting arrows and hunting on a horse as described on the wall painting of Goguryeo, the UNESCO World Heritage, to the present generation of Korea living the present times".
"Wish" by Sungyoen Park (machine applique, machine piecing, machine quilting). The artist pictured “Jangseung”, the Korean traditional totem poles that used to stand at the entrance of every village in old times and played the role of the village guardian as well as the border. The artist makes parallels between those traditional structures and modern gate-entrances to tall apartment buildings, that serve nowadays the same purpose as the totems in the past, praying for well-being and peace for lots of people passing through it.
"Royal Family and Lowest Class" by Miyoung Park (machine applique, machine quilting, thread sketch, yarn couching, painting) shows not only the contrast between the rich and the poor but also the fact that we all need each other: the followers need leaders and the leaders need followers.
"Drawing wishing for longevity and happiness" by Yujin Lee (applique and free motion quilting) was created as the wish for health and good luck for all people passing through difficulties of the pandemic.
“Reminiscent of Indians II” by Aeran KIM (paper piecing, machine piecing, machine quilting, thread sketching) received the Quiltmania award. While the work might appear simple in the photo, it is only once one sees it in person that one realizes just how much work has gone into it. The artist used self dyed cotton fabrics to create color transitions, with each colored row being machine pieced in a different way. The smallest pieces are finished at just 1/8” (0.3cm). Mind blowing precision!
It was very interesting to see how quilting has advanced recently. Innovative methods have enabled a variety of techniques to enhance the visual impact of a piece by using digital printing, hand painting, free motion quilting, machine embroidery etc. to fit the composition and theme of a piece. Pictorial quilts have become very trendy.
“America Morena” by Brazilian quilter Estela MOTA (Aurifil award) is a whole cloth quilt using digitally printed fabric.
“Native Woman” by famous Spanish artist Isabel MUÑOZ (Mettler award) is a stunning free motion embroidery on a black cloth.
Czech artist Bara BARTOSOVA used hand painting on silk and free motion quilting in her beautiful work “The Shaman” (Editions de Saxe award).
“A Ran de Mar” by Eva GUSTEMS (Spain) is a celebration of colour! Beautifully vibrant and impeccably pieced using Appliquick technique, it was free-motion quilted on her domestic sewing machine. The work provokes a smile whenever looked at. Its winning of a Bernina award is rather unsurprising.
The works presented in the contest also reflect the quilting world's latest trends, with them demonstrating how quilters are becoming more active in expressing their opinions and addressing current societal issues with their artworks.
“Quo Vadis” by Marzenna LEW (Poland) depicts smartphones, a symbol of our times. The name of the work, meaning “Where are you going?” in Latin, is a great thought-provoking prompt for our society, which is increasingly controlled by technology. The work received the France Patchwork award.
“Border” by Sylwia IGNATOWSKA (Poland) tells a story about her own experiences of refugees fleeing the Russian invasion of Ukraine. She translated her feelings and emotions through pictograms she quilted into the background. They reflect fear, despair, love and brotherhood. She used raw edge applique and free motion quilting. This emotionally moving work received the Organizers team award.
And last but not the least, the winner! “Invisible” by Angela MINAUDO won the Best of Show and People's Choice Awards. This is what Angela wrote about her work: “... The "invisible" tribe, one of the largest metropolitan tribes in existence, is made up of people that others try not to see: marginalised, poor, sick, society's rejects, by choice or misfortune”. Made in the fabric collage technique, entirely from scraps, it simply blows your mind with its realistic, almost true to life visuals. This piece of art touched everyone's hearts.
Special thanks to FinnQuilt for sponsoring my trip and to Jongkyeong Lee for providing high resolution images of the works by Korean artists.