In Melbourne I managed to offload the children at the Museum - right next door - and sneak a couple of hours at the AQC. Completely unplanned - I hadn't even realised it was on - but then I saw a flyer for it and thought it would be a shame to actually be in Melbourne and not get there. So off I went. There were lots of quilts, and masses of vendors, and seething hordes of quilters. I didn't get to any of the classes or talks, which is a shame, but my two-hour window really just let me see the quilts and have a quick poke around the shops.
As you can imagine, there were some extraordinary quilts there. They pick up the best ones from the separate State and Territory shows, as well as some other specialist exhibitions and some themed ones. I really liked the Wartime Quilts exhibition - old quilts mostly made by men from pieces of wool uniforms. Fascinating, and good explanations of the historical context, which I always like.
I also liked the series of quilts by Victoria Findlay Wolfe and Di Ford-Hall... and it made me think about some of the dissatisfaction that I have with these shows in general. If I had to sum up the quilts as a whole with a single word it would be "overwrought". Overquilted, overdone, over-embellished, over-thought in the case of the art pieces. My single word would not be relaxed, fun, lively or effortless.
And I wonder if that is because you only get a single quilt to show everything - you don't get to show a range of differing things that work off a single theme, to give the audience a chance to see where you are going and where you've been. Which is why I really liked Di Ford-Hall's very traditional quilts; none of them would have stood out at all mixed in with the crowd, but when you saw them all together they complemented each other, and you can see what her priorities were in a quilt, and how she worked that, and explored it. I don't have any answers for this but I'm not sure the quilt show format we currently have is doing anyone any favours.
Apart from the quilts it was great to go into the Royal Exhibition Building - built in 1880 and the site of the opening of the First Parliament in 1901. Which was the subject of Tom Roberts' Big Picture which we had seen in the exhibition a couple of weeks ago. It was very cool to look up at the roof and recognise the arches from the painting.