Friday, July 26, 2013

Yeah, well. Fuck you too.

Remember the lemons quilt I was working on for the exhibition? I duly entered it, with photo, and Canberra Quilters has refused to hang it. Here is the quilt in its entirety.



I called the quilt "Self-help" and it's my take on the stupid uplifting sayings that you get can get peppered with when you have cancer. This quilt was a long time in the gestation and I played around with a lot of different words - but it needed swearing. I actually went with "fuckers" rather than using the adjective because it read a bit milder. But no matter what I wrote it needed something quite jarring,  to make it angry, and not just trite and silly like the sayings I was objecting to.

This is about 1 cm high and written in orange fabric marker on yellow. Clearly, if this gets before the eyes of the viewing public THE WORLD WILL END. At least that's what the Committee decided last night. Hell no, we won't show.



To say that I am angry about this would be an understatement. I am furious. And I am also surprised. I expected some eye-rolling, the odd "well, I don't think that's appropriate" and even a "I think she might be using shock value to cover up her lack of technical expertise". I really genuinely did not expect to be banned.

For context, the Canberra Quilters Guild is not some small group of retired women who decided to put on a show in the church hall. It is a large and well-established group that has been going for 40 years - through enormous changes in the quilting world - and counts among its members some world-renowned art quilters. They've embraced every development from machine quilting to embellishment to felting and back again ... this is a Guild that likes to think it's a player. Except, apparently, it's not. Apparently, anger expressed through everyday language is not OK. Apparently, you can be as emotional and avant garde as you want when you're gluing ugly poppies to a quilt for Anzac Day, or firing swarovski crystals through a glue gun, or meticulously re-creating your beach holiday in applique ... but there is a limit. And, apparently, that limit is reached at the f-word.

The banning advice did not contain any reasons for the exclusion, other than that it was because of the "fuckers". So I'm guessing it wasn't thought appropriate? although why the hell would any art exhibition use "appropriateness" as a criteria? Were they worried about the children? Because if a kiddy is old enough to read it, they are old enough to understand an explanation about when and where you use language, and why. I've been quilting this on my lap for two months now and my boys are well aware of when you can use certain words, and when they land you in your room for half an hour.

So I'm making the arguments to myself; that the exhibition is an expression of the Guild as a whole, and we have to think of our sponsors, and it would put a burden on those members who are on white glove duty next to it ... and I look at every argument and I say THAT IS ABSOLUTE FUCKING BOLLOCKS.  Either you only ever hang works that make you comfortable and warm inside; or you grow some spine and show the ugly ones, and the offensive ones, and the barking mad ones. Am I the only person who thinks that might be important?

I have to admit, I'm not making great art here. The only thing I can say is that I am making a genuine comment about something that is important to me, through the only technique I have, and every stitch, every colour choice and every word is the one that feels right - that feels necessary - to get to the result that I want. And Canberra Quilters has told me in the most direct and unvarnished way that my choices are WRONG and even worse are SO WRONG that they cannot be shown in public EVER or it will contaminate us all. So yeah, well, fuck you too.

38 comments:

  1. Your post says it all really. Fuck them, and enjoy your artistic expression.

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  2. Exactly. We love it and appreciate how important it is to you. Fuck them and the horses they rode in on.

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  3. Exactly. We love it and appreciate how important it is to you. Fuck them and the horses they rode in on.

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  4. I love your quilt. I remember seeing a great clip of Billy Connelly talking about how fuck is the only word that is satisfying to use sometimes. Some people just need to get over themselves and their uptight ways.

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  5. sounds like that guild has every member of the quilt police in it! lynley, your quilt is an expression of how you feel, so don't let them diminish your feelings. the guild certainly could have handled it in a different way. i would have given it a ribbon. seriously. just for content and the back story. you go, girl!

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  6. I just read the article in the canberra times. Wow! I recall visiting the Musuem of Old and New Art (MONA) in Hobart and was shocked at some of the so called 'art' I saw there. Kids were allowed to roam around with no signs of warning about torture, graphic self hurt, sex etc. And then you look at a quilt with a word written on it that is banned... doesn't make sense does it? Kids nowadays have access to internet and phones and will see a lot worse than a naughty word. Hell my two year old says WTF and I have no idea where he got that from!

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  7. Hi Lynley, I just saw the article too, and wanted to say THANK YOU for making such a delightfully honest and funny and powerful quilt! When my nan was dying of cancer (and she's even more foul mouthed than I am, so I knew she'd appreciate it) I sent her flowers with a card that just said FUCK CANCER on it. Apparently she laughed for the first time in ages when she saw it. I wish she could see it - I can honestly tell you that she would thoroughly love it. :)

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  8. Way to go, Lynley. Keep challenging those stereotypes - textile arts and others.

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  10. Hi Lynley - I've found your blog via the Canberra Time article which was shared on a large Facebook group for vintage and antique quilts. If there is any consolation to found in this situation, it is that your quilt is now making wider rounds. The broader visibility lets your message reach more people, and the accompanying article further explains your intent. I just want to congratulate you for using your art to make an expression. -- Amy of Badskirt

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  11. I' ve come via Canberra Times via a FB site...Lynley.... art is only art if it stirs the emotions. You've done that in spades. Most of the "art" quilts being made and "juried" are just exercises in texture pattern colour. Nice texture, excellent colour, thoughtful patterns clever stitching . . . but still EXERCISES.
    Cant wait to see your future work...you go girl!

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  12. Henryroo - I deleted your comment because I don't allow anonymous comments on the blog. Posting from a blogger identity that has been set up in the last few hours, and which doesn't include a website or a blog or even an email address, counts as anonymous. If you'd like to re-post with some identifying information then please do so.

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  13. Good on you Lynley. I love the word Fuck. Love it.

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  14. I loved the quilt. My mum died from cancer, and she would have loved it too - and she was a Sunday school teacher. Fuck them and fuck cancer and fuck pulchitrudiinous platitudes :)

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  15. I absolutely love it-- for every reason: color choice, expression, design. So many of my friends will also love it.

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  16. Hi Lynley,
    I found your blog and great quilt via a facebook post from Sew Little Fabric...
    I'm glad I did....
    I say it is fucking ridiculous to ban a quilt.
    I think it is very funny that many more people will now see the banned quilt and hopefully be pleased they did.
    Good luck to you and I hope you continue to throw those fucking lemons!

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  17. You expressed what I was not allowed to say 26 YEARS ago. Thank you. That it can not be exhibited with all the other quilts is just wrong.

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  18. I am coming to this blog through a Facebook posting about the news article. I now only agree with you, I think you should add all the lying doctors who only want the $ included into that anger. My husband died of cancer and the doctors knew he was dying but continued to give the meds that made his life a misery. So lets throw those fucking lemons on the medical's that are getting rich on cancer patients.

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  19. I said more than the f word when I was diagnosed all those years ago, and it is obvious to me that those ladies never had to face the disease,Also i got this through fb and I assure you your quilt is traveling the cyberworld...far better than one silly little show.

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  20. As a member of Canberra Quilters, I am sorry that this work will not be on the display.

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  21. I think you are going to get more valid exposure because they banned it and because it's going viral on FB--GOOD on ya, Blossom! I can't believe that *anyone* with a serious disease, a life threatening condition has never said the word, and that those who feel it's to be banned haven't whispered it themselves when they or family and friends had to face the monster.Keep saying it, we all know "bad" words are catharsis! Those little yellow things aren't lemons really in this case--they're the cowards who won't be realistic about expression and art!

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  22. There is only one thing to do Linley - go throw lemons at them; BTW make sure they are bloody big ones too!

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  23. Honestly - I am going to disagree to some extent with everyone. You will notice the Canberra Times also blurred the word on the quilt and put in %#**& 'stuff' instead of writing the word in the article. I am trying to remember when I last saw the word fuck in a public location in a way that was not graffiti - and I cannot remember an occasion at all.

    I think appropriateness of language is about location and context, and not many in a quilt show will be expecting fuck. This is possibly why you send your kids to their rooms for saying some things - and in a way that is what they have done to you.

    I am very very sorry that you are upset about this - but I think the guild is just trying to make sure that they do not get flack from their members.

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  24. Hi Lynley

    I found you blog via Kirsty Duncan's Facebook page. I wonder if Jenny Bowker is aware of the two F word quilts shown at the Austin, Texas modern quilt exhibition Quilt Con earlier this year. The following link provides a picture of both quilts but if you google QuiltCon fuck quilt there are many blog posts about it. They weren't the only controversial quilts hung. Jacquie Gering's entry "Bang, You're Dead" also generated lots of cyber activity. If I had cancer I'd be saying "fuck you" too.

    http://bitsandbobbins.com/blog/2013/2/26/quiltcon-2013-austin-photo-dump

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  25. Thanks Helen - I was aware of both those quilts - and I think they're great! I had an email exchange after my one had been banned with Chawne who organised the give a fuck quilt, who made the excellent point that getting that quilt into Quiltcon was a huge surprise and the organisation copped a fair bit of flack for it! But almost all commentators and participants agreed it was the right decision to make, which had made me hopeful for this one ... especially because my quilt is so little, and the words so unobtrusive :)

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  26. Hi! My name is Susan Lenz. I'm an artist in South Carolina in the USA who doesn't have academic studio arts training or a background in traditional quilting or sewing ... but I've had several solo shows and my work is regularly accepted into various juried exhibitions. So, my saying that your piece is ART might not mean much ... except as a personal phrase of support. I do appreciate your work on an emotional, creative, and artistic level. It's great. I also agree with you that any child able to read this word is quite capable of understanding the reasoning behind your usage of it ... which only applies if they didn't already know the word very, very well! LOL! My reason for writing here, however, is to share with you the fact that you are not alone. I've been censored too. One of the 108 pieces in my "Decision Portrait Series" with banned from a major show. This series is all about TOLERANCE, believe it or not! I never once suggested (or believe) that deciding to join the Ku Klux Klan is a good idea. It was simply a decision made by the two individuals depicted ... period. The uproar was way out of proportion, inappropriately handled, and demonstrated a total lack of understanding about the entire concept of the show. That happened, however, in 2010. Since then I've learned that to be censored is almost a badge of honor. It is almost like being awarded recognition as a true artist, someone able to honestly create original work from the heart and mind. So ... CONGRATULATIONS and may the coming year bring you more success and joy due to this temporary set back than you might otherwise have earned had this organization done the right thing! Way to go! Thanks for sharing!
    Susan
    PS ... If you'd like to see my censored image and its explanation ... it is at http://strataseries.blogspot.com/2010/06/knight-riders-decision-portrait-series.html

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  27. I'm coming from the SAQA digest. I rarely use the F word, but if I am given a diagnosis of cancer I promise that it willo be one of the first words out of my mouth.

    With that in mind, Lily Allen, whose song I heard before I knew her name, has a song entitled, "Fuck You" that is quite catchy. I first sang it when I was "dumped" by a man (yes, I am in my 50's - still makes you mad!). I suggest you give it a listen; it is brilliant, IMHO.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o8VZX4sHn-4

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  28. Congratulations on using self expression in a most beneficial and appropriate way for yourself. I'm sorry your guild was more concerned about themselves than you. Hopefully you will have taught many others a lesson through your own personal growth. Mindless platitudes are just that, mindless. An artist points out those inconsistencies in life, but they are not always the welcomed messenger.

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  29. congratulations, well said.
    Now with that statement out of the way, proceed to healing, and good health. Sending love, and blessings. hugs, vivian

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  30. Lynley I got to your blog through Facebook, YOU ARE FUCKING AWESOME!
    And more people will now see your quilt because of the narrow minded, easily offended people that wanted to censure your statement. You GO girl!

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  31. Hi lyl,
    You probably don't know this, as you probably haven't heard me say it, but when I muck up something important at golf, and lose when I should have won, I smile sweetly and accept the commiserations. Then in the car on the way home I wind up the windows and shout it all the way home. It does ease the pain, and next day I don't have to do it quite as often. I'm still shouting it for your Mum, too, and it is still the only way to describe cancer. "What's in the trunk..." Dad.

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  32. Your post says it all really. Fuck them, and enjoy your artistic expression.

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  33. I love it! It's fabulous.
    I squirt lemons in their eyes.

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  34. I just found this post and am jumping up and down cheering you! when I had cancer I was inundated with lacy pink stuff - someone even bought me a pink toaster! Now don't get me wrong, the thought and work they did warmed me, but I was trying to channel my Xena Warrior, Diana Huntress core to fight. And pink lace made my brain so angry that I spent a wonderful afternoon tearing some to shreds (I guess the equivalent of going up on the roof lol). Thank you!!!! Stacey, VermontPines at aol dot com.

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