Tuesday 8 July 2014

Things We Do in Bed: Quilts on Show at Danson House

There's a fascinating exhibition of quilts at Danson House, in Bexley, at the moment - although I discovered it rather by accident. I was in the area with time to kill and thought I'd visit Danson House because I get free entry through having an Art Pass.

Danson House is a restored Georgian Villa within Danson Park. Those who visit also get free entry to art displays on the top floor. The current exhibition is called Things We Do in Bed and is about quilting. In England, quilting has been done for centuries as a way of recycling scraps of cloth into practical items - usually bed coverings. However, it is also a folk art that is particularly popular in America.

Quilts can be made following traditional designs, but in the 20th and 21st centuries quilts have increasing been created to record history or to make political or social statements. Things We Do In Bed does all of those things - the quilts on display are thought-provoking and some are quite disturbing.

The covering on the four-poster in the top picture was made by a woman as she sat beside her husband's bed while he went through the final stages of Alzheimer's. The quilt behind it, by Becky Knight, is called Depressions. Each square contains a small stone while the rest of the wadding is heavy blankets, to represent the heaviness she felt as she suffered from depression herself. The quilt in the picture on the right is about imprisonment while others are about death and grief - pretty dark stuff.  However, there some are joyful quilts too, including a beautiful patchwork baby cot covering.

Some witchy friends and I had been thinking of creating our own quilt to represent our magical interests - and seeing this exhibition has renewed my interest in the idea. I'm not sure my sewing skills could match the quilts on display, but it has given me inspiration.

Things We Do in Bed is on  at Danson House until 31 October 2014 and is curated by Tracy Chevalier, author of Girl With a Pearl Earringand The Last Runaway.

Girl With a Pearl Earring
The Last Runaway
You Did What in the Ditch?: Folklore of the American Quilter

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