Quilts: Hidden Histories, Untold Stories

Quilts – Hidden Histories, Untold Stories was the curator’s blog for the V&A’s Quilts: 1700 – 2010 exhibition

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The Devil wears…..

well today it’s a pair of jeans, socks and tee-shirt recycled from the growing pile of discarded outfits worn during installation this week. All had passed what I call 'the sniff test' much to the disgust of the husband. Things didn't go quite according to plan this week, with one or two hairy moments. The lovely Claire said I had started to develop the 'Prichard Twitch', reminiscent of Meryl Streep in said movie. I did consider asking the team to call me 'Marm', but decided that might have been a step too far. I hit my emotional moment on Thursdaywith …

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Left a bit, right a bit … does anyone have a spirit level?

My feet feel like bloody stumps, I’m gasping for a cup of tea and my fingers are wrinkled from 10 hours of being encased in purple nitrate gloves.But I love installation – it’s truly the best bit of any exhibition process.After six years of planning, research, visits, more research, writing, editing, angst and agony we are almost there.The one question I’m constantly asked is – am I feeling emotional?Well not really there is still so much to do – every morning we are handed our installation schedules and assigned Team A and Team B.Conservators and technicians each weld their own …

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A Room of One’s Own

Over the last two years I have had the pleasure of working with so many extraordinary artists and makers.Many have welcomed me into their homes and studios, sharing thoughts and ideas – their hospitality and generosity have added an unexpected dimension to the exhibition, which goes beyond professional courtesy.I had visited Jo Budd in her studio several times and was immediately drawn to the sense of peace and tranquillity in her workspace. It was not only a privilege to be invited into her home and studio but was also a joy

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From the Horse’s Mouth

Our Bookings Office (who has the patience of a saint) has confirmed that tickets for individuals are indeed now available to book by phone or online. Go to https://transactions.vam.ac.uk/peo/search_results.asp?txtSource=FastSearchortelephone on +44 (0)20 7942 2211. Meanwhile the contractors are busy building the exhibition – the entire space is a hard hat only zone (the testosterone is palpable), the installation schedule is being drawn up, couriers are being booked in, the team of conservators are on hand and I've stocked the cupboards with all sorts of nutritious snacks to see us through the 12 hour days (who am I kidding – it …

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England expects…

Every woman to do her duty.Yes Ladies – now is the time to take up your needle and with patience and perseverance communicate your loyalty, patriotism and commitment to proving that we are not idle whilst our men are away.We should follow our sister’s example – reflecting our pride in our nation, celebrating our victories whilst acknowledging the loss ofour menfolk. All this is of course a preamble to another story.I have always been intrigued by the George III coverlet – the sense that it is perhaps two projects. One the intricate piecing over papers to create segmented circles, some …

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Once upon a time…

A little girl spent every summer wandering around the V&A with her grandparents.Like all little girls she was entranced by the Costume Court but above all she was intrigued by the signs that stated ‘Private – Staff Only’.What went on behind those doors, what hidden secrets and undiscovered treasures could be found if one only had the key to unlock the past?No-one could have predicted that forty years later that same little girl would be curating a major exhibition at the same Museum. I have often been asked how it is that I have come to curate Quilts 1700-2010 – …

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What’s in your fabric stash…

I was sorting mine out last week in preparation for a photo shoot (at home with the Prichards – complete with husband making like Keith Floyd, whisk in one hand, glass of red in the other).As I looked at the scattered fabrics across the floor, my past flashed before my eyes.The spriggy Laura Ashley prints (my 18th birthday party dress), the deckchair stripes (a beach skirt I made for my first back packing holiday to Greece), the black and white polka dot (a gorgeous dress, which made me feel like a Vogue model, complete with signature red lipstick).I still remember …

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Don’t Panic!

Pottered in this morning, full of the joys of spring (well almost) – opened the emails and found a flurry of activity re my last posting. Just to reassure everyone that there will be a total of 300 tickets available for the conference, and only just over a third have been releasedfor groups (strictly limited – no additional discounted has been offered for groups). Which leaves nearly 200 tickets available – as soon as our Learning & Interpretation team give me the nod that these are going on sale you will be the first to know. In the meantime, our …

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I spoke too soon…

There I was – on the one hand revelling in my new found freedom from meetings and on the other feeling abandoned when suddenly Team Quilts sprang back into action. We have a new lead on the maker of the George III Revewing the Troops coverlet – can we fit in a quick research trip before we start to install? Can I really accept an invitation to the Tokyo International Great Quilt Festival due to open next week? Backto backpress interviews are lining up and at some point Ireally need to get the washing machine fixed (the husband stopped seeing …

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Santa Baby…

…. no I didn't get a sable under my tree but violet creams were definitely the present du jour, along with a rather fabulous crushed raspberry coloured quilted hot water bottle cover.This Christmas I battened down the hatches and spent 12 days esconced with several good books, plenty of hot milk and a coupleof box sets of DVDs supplied by the daughters – bliss. I was also intrigued by the press response to the cold weather. Am I not alone in remembering intensely cold winters – as I child I grew up in a home without central heating. We were …

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