My name is Charlotte, sometimes known as Ms Lottie, occasionally as The Slightly Mad Quilt Lady. This is my blog, where you'll find me writing a lot about my quilting and textile arts and a little about my family's life in a small seaside town in New Zealand. Haere mai!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

SAQA Benefit Auction Quilt - Seeing Both Sides of the Story

Every year SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates) holds a benefit auction.  They ask members to make a 12 x 12 inch quilt to donate.  These are then auctioned off to raise money for the association.  They raised over $55,000 last year!

My quilt for this year is a little different for me, it's the first time I've really tried to include a message.

There is an ongoing debate about the back sides of art quilts.  Artists who exhibit art quilts at quilt shows often feel that the back of the quilt isn't relevant and shouldn't be judged.  Other's feel that in view of the traditions that art quilts spring from, the back is an integral part and should be celebrated as another aspect to use to convey a message.  And still other comments I've heard are that painters never consider the back of their work, so why should we?

It goes round and round and round!

I'm not sure where I stand on the debate.  And hence my quilt: Seeing Both Sides of the Story.

The text on the front reads,"So, I guess you turn over paintings and look at the back of them too?"  Which is something I've heard as a reply to people saying the backs of art quilts are important.  You can say it with a sarcastic tone or not, up to you!

I began with white fabric and a fabric pen.

Then I used layers of hand painted and dyed silk organza.  I wanted a painterly feel with depth and translucency.

I worked up the text by quilting around the letters and using coloured pencil and colourless fabric paint to highlight them.

The outline of a woman's back was done using a heavy thread in the bobbin and free-motion quilting.  I used this motif for a couple of reasons - obviously the 'back' of the woman ties in with the statement of the 'back' of quilts.  I also wanted people to think about both sides of things, how one side can be hidden but perhaps be the more revealing.  I also wanted to reference fine art - nudes often appear in the traditional masters you see in museums.

The back of the quilt has a hand written mini essay.  It is hard to read in the photograph, but easier in real life.  This is what it says:

Textile is tactile; it begs to be touched and fondled, to engage that kinaesthetic sense. Yes, we hang textile art of the walls, but we also wrap ourselves in it. Should not the back be another aspect to engage with, to admire? Why do we insist on trying to make art like painters? We aren't painters, we are quilters, and we stitch though all three layers. So, let us celebrate a marvellous attribute of our medium and embrace THE BACK.

And this, for me, is the other side to the back side story.  I wanted this on the back so you would have to turn over the quilt (the action that the whole debate is about) to read it.

I bound the edge with a very skinny single fold binding, popped in an envelope, crossed my fingers and sent it winging towards the USA.  It arrived safe and sound and now appears on SAQA's auction pages, page 8.

There are many, many beautiful quilts up for auction.  There are also many videos of how individual artists created their art.  Go and have a look - you will inspired and amazed at the beautiful work.   And please share the link with others so that they can see the quilts too.

PS - I'd love to hear your thoughts about the back of art quilts, please leave me a comment.


  1. I love the quilt, The statement, the method and thought that you put into it. Never really thought about the back of an art quilt. Sounds more like a can of worms that bring in the quilt police.

  2. This is wonderful! Thank you for sharing the process especially the lettering and the whole concept. When I go to a quilt show and see a quilt that has a very cool back - I exclaim with glee! I ooooh, i aaaah! So yes the back is very important but then why don't I myself pay more attention to the back? Good question. You have gotten me thinking about it now which proves your art is great because that's what all good art does is provoke thought.

  3. So beautiful Lottie. Love the process, so original and clever. Thanks for sharing.

  4. I love it! I love the sentiment - and the back - and the front!!!


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