Three… Favorites from Festival of Quilts – Part 2 – Jenny Dutton and Clare Smith

In Part One  of this article, I focused on the dementia themed works of Christine Chester and it was entirely by coincidence that my second choice is work by Jenny Dutton about her mother’s dementia. The two artists were in different galleries but close by and I found their different styles and focus complimentary. Christine’s work was deliberately devoid of colour and emphasised the fading away of her father. Jenny’s large scale ‘darnings’ are colourful ( although the colour became more gentle to represent the passing of time) and focused more on the preservation of a snapshot in time of her mother.

(The photos are my iPhone images taken in the generally shocking lighting of the NEC and I apologise to the artists for their lack of perfection and peculiar shadows, but I think they are sufficient to show off the wonderful work.)

The sample of works by Jenny illustrate well how one subject can result in many different works without boring repetition. It was remarkable how, whilst keeping the technique and the size the same, just the subtle change in the strength of colour told so effectively the increased fragility of her mother, yet still allowed the beauty of the woman to be visible.

Jenny’s works were in the Through our Hands exhibit and the square story boards made for each artists work were in themselves beautiful examples of design. So, rather than repeat the information, I show you Jenny’s board. you can also see more details about the  Darnings series on her website here, with better images.

My third artist is Clare Smith from New Zealand whose work ( again in the Through our Hands exhibit) I was drawn to for its social meaning, its delicacy of construction, and its presentation method. My iPhone photo is sadly a little cropped at the top because I could not stand back far enough for the wide lens of the phone, but you can see that the works hang from trays with dye cups in them and end in bowls of wheat, barley and rice. This hanging method was not just different to be different, but was an integral part of the message.

To quote the artist, her work,

“Investigates the relationship between commerce, the environment and the damaging effects of the ‘race to the bottom’, where the consumer and importer demand the lowest price and the manufacturer is forced to cut corners to secure a profit.

” Water treatment is expensive and rivers in textile manufacturing countries run blue or pink or turquoise with waste-water run off from the textile industry. the dyes are so strong that it is possible to predict fashionable colours for the seasons ahead by looking at Google Earth!”

There are more images on her blog.

I highly recommend the Through our Hands portfolio book which shows all of the exhibition and more besides and can be bought here. I also spent much time appreciating the work in the Quilt Art exhibition and could easily have chosen many artist form there to feature. the book of their current exhibition is also well wort the price and can be bought here.

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