One hundred and fifty two

Bedcover, patchwork

England, 1860-70
Victoria & Albert Museum

Bedcover was part of the V&A’s exhibition Quilts 1700-2010 that ran during July of 2010. It is interesting that while in London quilts had taken over the V&A’s exhibition wing, not to mention captivating the many contemporary artists that participated, Mike Cloud was working in New York irrespectively under similar themes. Yesterday’s postcard was his ‘Mick Jagger, Paper Quilt’ that at a glance is not dissimilar visually to this bedcover from some 150 years before. Cloud’s ‘drawing’, his guiding of the eye to read through his works along the lines of pattern, is an overriding technique looked to in many of the quilts from the V&A exhibition. Of course the more modern quilts have taken this medium specifically for this manipulatable purpose, weaving pictures and text (as Cloud does) in the very fabric of their compositions so we may make connections and links as they do. But what is more intriguing, is to think that this idea was part of the original drive behind traditional quilts, that the joining of many material pieces was not only about aesthetic pattern, but about piecing together fabric for meaning in a similar vein of articulation that these contemporary artists are using. There are quilts centred around royal emblems, personal poems written by spouses, and commemoration dates, with squares of fabric weaved into the patterns for their familiarity and identifiable nostalgia. The optical illusion created by this bedcover is fascinating in itself; Escher-like (see postcard 134), one cannot help think that as our eyes dart across the squares that hold them, these squares of discarded tartan, plaid and florals hold possible memories and meaning in themselves.

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