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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Dear Ms Pritchard…

I have been judged and found wanting – all over the country quilted effigies of Sue Prichard are being stabbed with pins. To be honest I didn't realise that the offending article 'Quilts come in from the cold' had created such a flurry of responses. It’s a very odd thing being thrust into the public sphere – you certainly don't enter into the profession with the express wish of becoming public property. It wasn't until I started to receive the emails addressed to 'Dear Ms Pritchard' that I realised anything was amiss (where did that ‘t’ come from?). Of course …

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A Tale of Two Daughters

I am constantly amazed by the way in which seemingly disconnected individuals and events are linked through time and space. My father, a butcher by trade spent his weekends and holidays fishing. Every year we would spend two weeks in a small fishing town on the South East Kent coast. Each evening we would pack our rods and bags and set out at 7.00pm to spend a couple of hours in companionable silence casting our rods from Deal Pier.This was perhaps a surprising past time for ateenage girl; however the bond between father and daughter wasone which continues to resonate …

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Don’t Quote Me…

I have no more words to give. I'm all worded out – if you ask me what I've been doing all day my mind goes blank, I can't even remember what I had for lunch (if I had lunch). We had our press launch on Wednesday morning – weeks of preparation, proofing press releases, rehearsingthe presentation, refining the images, ensuring the key messages were embedded within the presentation. Suddenly you're standing before the assembled throng – there is a lot riding on this. You need to be engaging, entertaining and above all informative. Then its all over, you've done the …

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The Great Bed Controversy!

I'm probably going to get my wrist slapped for this – we were going to keep this under wraps until the Press Launch next week but given the rumours circulatingregarding our plans for the display of bed covers and quilts I thought I would share this with you. Actually attendees at the Gala Dinner at the Festival of Quilts last week were the first to hear our plans and see some of the amazing objects from the collection which will be showcased for the first time in 2010. You can just make out an image of one of the curtains …

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Space – The Final Frontier…

The contractors are just about to move into the V&A's exhibition halls to install our next major exhibition Maharaja: The Splendour of India's Royal Courts. We decided to go down and walk through the empty space which will be transformed next March for Quilts 1700-2010 ….. This is the North Court, one of the two halls we have allocated for the exhibition. What you can see is perhaps one third of its actual size. Our design team is busy discussing trunking, power points, how to disguise the air conditioning vents. We had already looked at wall colours (much more exciting) …

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The Sad Lament of the Quilt Widower…

All is not well in the Prichard house. It started off innocently enough: Husband 'So what are we doing for our wedding anniversary?'. Me 'I don't know about you but I'm giving the After Dinner Speech at the Festival of Quilts'. OK, I probably could have phrased that differently but I was tired/hungry/stressed (probably all three). Husband 'You're always tired/hungry/stressed…….'. There is a line at the end of every acknowledgements page in exhibition publications which state 'And finally I'd like to thank my family etc etc.' But what does that really mean? In effect an apology for all thebroken promises: …

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Quilts from the Heartland of Wales

When I was first asked to present a proposal for a quilt exhibition, I was adamant that the V&A should seize the opportunity to showcase its collection. Textiles are, by their very nature, fragile objects which are susceptible to damage, particularly from excessive exposure to light and pests. For this reason, access to textile collections generally is limited and the problematic issues of how to display historicobjects a very real impediment to mounting major displays and exhibitions. The V&A is often criticised as being elitist or only concerned with 'posh' things however every museum has a collecting policy which dictates …

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Practical Patchwork

I thought youmight be interested in some photographs of the V&A Patchwork Group! . One of the key aims of the exhibition is to inspire a new generation to take up their needles and enjoy making patchwork. We decided that we would practice what we preach and set up an internal Patchwork Group – open to anyone working at the V&A. We would meet once a week, on a Monday lunchtime, people would turn up when they could and spend an hour stitching, chatting and generally taking a break from their desks and the wretched computers which dominate our working …

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Creating the Vision

This has been an exciting week for 'Project Team Quilts'! We have our 3D, 2D and lighting designers on board and are working closely with everyone to finalise the design concept. The creative aspect of mounting an exhibition is in many ways one of the most challenging but also immensely satisfying aspects of the project – particularly when faced with the inevitable budget cuts. Lively round table discussions focusing on the cost benefits of replacing plywood false walls with mdf, the possibility of incorporating fabric as opposed to solid panels and new and fresh ways of prsenting the text labels …

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Quilts Exhibition 2010

In March 2010 the V&A will present a major exhibition which will showcase over 300 years of British patchwork and quilting.For the first time the museum's collection of extraordinary quilts and coverlets will be displayed together with examples from some of the country's finest regional museums. Creating a major exhibition is a bit like embarking on parenthood. The responsibilities are enormous andeveryone has an opinion. Have you thought about doing this, including that, why aren’t you tackling this issue, will it really have a audience? The awful 2.00 amperiods of restless wakefulness, fretting aboutthe enormity of the task ahead.Thesudden, unutterable …

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