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.