There is great comfort in stitching I think. Both in the act of stitching, slowly, one at a time, creating something unique and meaningful for yourself and your family, and also in the appreciation of hand stitched items.
I visited the American Museum near Bath recently, somewhere known for their beautiful old quilts.
There is something very reassuring about these vintage pieces. Generations ago, women sat and slowly stitched these quilts to keep their families warm and to decorate their homes. And here I am, decades, in some cases even hundreds of years later, doing exactly the same thing. In these times of uncertainty and austerity it helps me more than I can say to connect with the past like this. It makes me think that somehow everything will be alright after all. The same troubles and dramas of my life today have been played out long ago by these women who went before, they would understand, they would sympathise, and no doubt they would tell me that in the end all will be well. The same rhythms of the seasons and of our lives, repeated over and over, on and on, despite the bumps in the road.
In the central atrium of the museum there are several quilts hung from the cupola. They have so many quilts at the museum that not all of them can be displayed at any one time. There's a room full of them too, but the light is kept so low to protect the ancient fabrics that photography is difficult.
But this is a post about colour, and when I think about stitches and colour, one name comes to mind. After all of those muted tones, brace yourselves.
Also at the American Museum right now is an exhibition of Kaffe Fassett's work. Originally from California, Kaffe has lived in Britain since 1964. He is the king of colour when it comes to knitting, sewing and quilting.
The exhibition is full of pieces from his long career. Very different to the old quilts in the main house at the museum, but redolent of their period and telling their own story.
Kaffe's message to the world is, don't be afraid of colour. I must admit I am a little hesitant when it comes to vibrant colour, but after seeing this exhibition it is hard not to fall a little in love with all the reds and purples and greens and blues. There is nothing hesitant here, this is colour done with complete assuredness.
I loved the way Kaffe uses colour to capture and direct the light. This quilt looked as though the sun was shining into its centre
It's not a great photo, but the intensity of colour in this knitted shawl was incredible. Every shade of red and pink pushed close together like little houses on a mediterranean hillside. And the knitting was perfection. I wanted to run through the woods wearing it.
As well as knitting and quilting there are plenty of tapestry pieces, each painstakingly hand stitched. This shell piece is a good size, maybe three feet wide by four foot deep.
The tapestries are mostly pictures rather than abstract patterns, and they often feature flowers and scenery. Another big piece (five feet maybe), with beautifully rendered leaves, drooping slightly below the flower spikes. The shades of green are worked perfectly together to paint such realistic hollyhocks. It's hard to remember that these vast canvases are made up of thousands of tiny stitches.
I really liked this chair, covered in crazy patchwork effect tapestry, with little flowers, birds and vegetables in each of the crazy pieces. I loved the pot of knitting needles as well. They made we want to sit and knit awhile. They always have that effect on me. It makes me think I should fill a pot with them and put them on my windowsill instead of flowers. Maybe with a little basket of yarn next to them. Who knows what inspiration might be sparked.
My favourite bit of the exhibition? It had to be this bench, with the vegetable cushions and cabbages in pots either side and that beautiful yellow-green wall behind it. Fantastic.
The overall effect of the exhibition was dazzling. When do our senses ever have the opportunity to process this much colour all at once? It was incredible. What wonderful things the human brain is capable of. And how unique each of our expressions are. It was impossible to leave without absorbing something very positive from what I'd seen. Does colour affect mood? After spending time with these pieces I'm certain it does. I felt invigorated, energised, inspired. They are not colours I routinely live with, but it made me wonder, maybe I should.
To visit the other Colour Collaborative blogs for more of this month's posts just click on the links below:
What is The Colour Collaborative?
All creative bloggers make stuff, gather stuff, shape stuff, and share stuff. Mostly they work on their
own, but what happens when a group of them work together? Is a creative collaboration greater than the sum of its parts? We think so and we hope you will too. We'll each be offering our own monthly take on a colour related theme, and hoping that in combination our ideas will encourage us, and perhaps you, to think about colour in new ways.