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  • Writer's pictureJudi Kirk

Judging in Milton Keynes

On Friday we travelled up to Milton Keynes to do some judging for the Patchwork People group. I judged their celebration of the 50th anniversary of Milton Keynes last year and they invited me back again.

The exhibition took place at The Westbury Arts Centre, which is based in a splendid 17th century farmhouse. Now run by a charitable trust, they rent studio space to all kinds of artists on a temporary or permanent basis.

The quilts I judged reflected Milton Keynes and its surroundings, so there were lots of landscapes (tricky) and quite a few landmarks (even trickier, because people know what they should look like). The quilts were splendid and a real benefit of being a judge is that you get to spend as long as you want, looking at the quilts!

My choices were:

1st – Geese Over Caldecotte by Jacky Lee

This quilt had pieced flying geese (in three different styles) covered by a sheer overlay stitched with geese in flight. The workmanship was outstanding. I hesitated a moment, because I remembered the sheer overlay technique being incorporated last year in a different quilt, when again I had selected it for first place. I assumed (rightly) that it was the same maker and thought it might not be a popular choice to have her win again. However, she certainly deserved her rosette.

2nd – Near and Far by Janis Bennell

Not surprisingly, there were a lot of landscapes featured, but this one really stood out with its dramatic sky. There is also some very interesting thread work, which I think was created by reducing the bobbin tension dramatically and increasing the top tension to create decorative loops.

The vignettes are well placed and very well balanced.

3rd – The Three Post Bench by Kathleen Haffegee

This quilt was very small (as you can probably tell by the wooden dowel) but exquisite in detail. All the tiny elements (fish, swans, etc.) are raw edge applique.

The colours are very harmonious and the background fabric was perfectly chosen.

The Event

There was a reception in the evening, which took place in the barn. There was a very eye-catching display of poppies in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War. Patchwork People reached out to all kinds of groups to help make poppies, so it was exciting to see poppies from stitchers, knitters, crotcheters, lace makers, crafters, etc.

I was especially fascinated by a display entitled Rumours. Participants were split into teams of four, with the first person given a picture as inspiration. The first person made an A4 quilt based on the picture, then passed a picture of that quilt to the second person. Working only from that (and an occasional hint in the theme title), the second person made a quilt and passed a picture of it to the third person, who did the same. It was interesting to see (rather like Chinese Whispers) how some series were close reflections of the original picture while others went off at a tangent. In these two pictures, the original inspiration is on the left and the quilts progress from left to right.

It was a great pleasure to return to Patchwork People and I thank Sheila in particular for looking after us so well. I am sorry that they don’t have an exhibition every year for me to visit, despite spending a ridiculous amount of time stuck in traffic on the notorious M25!

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