This week the Australasian Quilt Convention 2023 opens in Melbourne. I am delighted that my artwork Vibrance: Tip Top Through the Tulips (90x90cm)features as a finalist in the AQC Challenge In Full Bloom.
In 1983, when I was in the full bloom of adolescence, I was an exchange student to Sunnyside, Washington State in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. It was a profound, life-changing experience. One adventure was a spring break trip to Vancouver Island passing through the tulip fields of the Skagit Valley en route and immersing myself in more tulips in the Butchart Gardens. The vista of colour was imprinted on my brain and endures 40 years later.Vibrance: Tip Toe Through the Tulips (90x90cm) © Brenda Gael Smith 2023
I made this work in loving memory of my first set of host parents Don and Junes Hughes who welcomed me into their home and hearts. As the eldest of (then) five children, it was a novelty for me to be the only child at home and we made a tight gang heading to mountains and woods at every opportunity, regular brunches at Whistling Jack’s on Naches Pass, rehearsing with the band for the local musical comedy production for Kiss Me Kate, flying kites and generally making our own fun. I expecially remember sitting in our hotel room in Victoria, Vancouver Island reading Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Ernest aloud in hysterics with our exaggerated voices. Years later when I returned for a visit, we took an “ice cream: excursion to Mt Ranier to see the wildflowers in bloom.
My photographs from this pre-digital time are poor – my camera had a light leak which lead to streaky, over-exposed images and sitting in plastic sealed albums hasn’t helped. Nevertheless, when I found this photo from the Butchart Gardens, I was amazed to see that my ski jacket is the same colour green as the background fabric that I chose for my composition.
The AQC Challenge requires works to be a specific size – 90x90cm (36x36in). My approach was to lay cascading rows of linked paper squares on the background fabric, take a photo and then colour in the design using the SketchClub app. The design became less diagonal in the course of construction but still captured the bands of colour so vividlly etched in my memory.
For stitching texutre, I emphasized the square shapes with echo-stitching adding cross-stitch detail in perle thread on the link segments.
The Australasian Quilt Convention runs from Thursday to Sunday 13-16 April 2023 from 10am to 4pm at the Royal Exhibition Building, Melbourne. I can’t make it in person but look forward to seeing the AQC Challenge on display at the Sydney Craft & Quilt Fair at Sydney Showgrounds, Sydney Olympic Park (28 June to 1 July 2023) as part of its tour with Expertise Events.