Thursday, April 9, 2015

British Mania

Editor's Note: To celebrate the upcoming grand opening of the newly expanded Quilt House gallery, International Quilt Study Center & Museum team members are blogging about pieces in the gallery's inaugural exhibition, "Getting to Know You."

Medallion, maker unknown, probably made in Allendale region,
England, United Kingdom, circa 1830. IQSCM 2007.014.0001.

By Laura Chapman
Communications Coordinator

I have been a bit of an anglophile since middle school, when I watched Sliding Doors and Notting Hill. That was about the same time my dad introduced me to Monty Python's Flying Circus, and I watched a multi-part documentary on Beatlemania with my parents. That probably prompted me to spend high school reading everything by Helen Fielding, Lisa Jewell, and Jane Austen. By the time I went to college, I knew I was a bit obsessed.

Imagine my excitement when the summer before my senior year, I had an opportunity to travel to England with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Journalism and Mass Communications.

Not only did I get to see amazing things like Platform 9 ¾ at Kings Cross Station…

Hogwarts bound!

And tour London…

My classmates and I before attending Sunday
service at Westminster Abbey.

But I also saw a lot of quilts. UNL sent us to England as part of a depth reporting project on the international scope of quilts and quiltmaking. We were working on a magazine and documentary to be released in conjunction with the grand opening of the International Quilt Study Center & Museum at Quilt House in spring 2008.

We went to England, because there were excellent sources for us to interview at the Victoria & Albert Museum and British Museum in London. We were also fortunate enough to meet with Bridget Long, an IQSCM associate fellow, and one of her friends in Ashwell, near Cambridge.

The main elements of our research took place at the International Festival of Quilts in Birmingham. While our friends at the IQSCM, who are now my colleagues, told us the festival would be bigger than we could imagine, I wasn't prepared for the frenzy of activity that would meet us. We saw hundreds of quilts, including a mixture of historical, contemporary, and art quilts. And we also met wonderful people, both in our interviews and by mingling in the crowd.

Though this British quilt looks different than any of the pieces I saw during that trip in 2007, it reminds me of the festival and of one of the greatest experiences in my life.

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