The truth is, however, that the organisation for this particular gallery began almost a year ago. Things like this don't happen overnight. I have to admit, I have never really thought about it before. But I thought it might be interesting to let you know the sort of things that do go in in the background to get a gallery such as this up and running.
This Saturday (8th August) Chrisse and Hilary Gooding are presenting a lecture where they will talk about the history of the CQ Challenges, the themes, the need to jury the entries in recent years, the organisation of the challenges and the galleries as well as the opportunities available for the quilts to tour. The lecture will be illustrated with quilt images from past exhibitions. If you are there, why not go along to find out more and support the work of Chrisse and Hilary.
This year, Margaret Pratt has been responsible for the exhibition, assisted once again by Hilary Gooding and myself and guided by Chrisse whose experience has proved invaluable in making this year's gallery a success.
The great thing about the way the entry process to the competition has been organised is that I was able to do all of this whilst in New Zealand - something which would have been completely impossible were it not for high speed internet and my laptop! I was also able to answer questions by e mail and hopefully nobody even realised that I was over 11,000 miles away.
As the entries arrived I gave each one its own number and set up spreadsheets to keep track of the process....... more on the importance of that later. I also created a secure gallery in the cloud to allow Margaret and myself to access the images and other information from wherever we were. The power of the internet still amazes me!
As the samples began to arrive by post, Margaret Pratt was also excited. She too enjoyed opening the packages that started arriving on her doorstep at regular intervals. I am sure her postman must have wondered what on earth was going on. Little did he or she know what was to be coming later!! We kept in close contact to ensure we both knew what had arrived and what was still outstanding for each of the entries.
To ensure the entries were judged anonymously, the back of each sample was covered over with a piece of fabric which Margaret hand stitched in place, so covering the name of the maker. She then needed to add the number I had given to the quilt. That way we were able to keep the maker of the quilts anonymous for the jurors and keep track of which sample was which.
Annette and Marion selected 43 quilts which they felt best matched the brief for the challenge, and these are the quilts you will see hanging in the gallery in hall 9 (stand L16).
By the 1st of July the selections were complete and it was then my job to write to all those who had entered, giving the good and bad news respectively. Giving good news is always easy, but sending bad news is never a pleasure and a number of people were understandably disappointed. It is the one part of the organisation of this event that was not enjoyable.
From that point on it all got a bit crazy!
Obviously, in many months to come, the quilts will all need to be returned to their makers - so the packing materials which the quilts arrived in need to be kept for their safe return. Margaret tells me she has a large part of her loft space filled with them!
Which brings me to the final stages of setting up the gallery. John and I hung the quilts and Margaret and Jeremy organised the labels. But the best way to explain is in pictures - I have written far too much!!
All in all it took just over 6 hours in total to have the quilts and labels hung. (with just one coffee break!) Our tables never did arrive - despite several visits to the 'table lady' - so we kept our 'setting up' table and used that. I think I saw John sit down once - so it was a long day all around. But I hope you will agree - the gallery looks fabulous. The quilts look amazing - and the total amount of hard work put in to the creation of each will surely number in the thousands of hours. Add to that the number of hours that Margaret and John, Hillary and myself have added and it is a VERY big number indeed. I would not like to hazard a guess.
So - a huge THANK YOU to all involved with the creation of this gallery, and especially to Margaret. If she had not volunteered to take on this role this gallery would not exist. If I have forgotten to mention someone I apologise now.
I will leave you with some more images of the quilts as they were when I left them on Wednesday evening, before the cleaners arrived to make everything spick and span. I will not be back until Sunday, when I will see the completed gallery for the first time before I then take it all down again. If you are going to the Festival of Quilts I hope you will stop by to see the gallery - it is WELL worth it and if you are there on Sunday I look forward to saying hello.
If you have any photographs that you would like me to add to this blog them please do send them - I would love to create a beautiful gallery for those who were not able to attend to see.
Once the gallery is taken down on Sunday evening the quilts are off on tour. I do not know where they are going as yet, but CQ's Exhibition Officer, Amanda Wright will take ownership of the collection from Margaret and give her a much deserved break.
Hilary Gooding will also begin creating the 'book of the show' as in previous years. See here for the fabulous books she has previously created. Watch this space to find out more about it!
I hope you have enjoyed finding out more about the background to this year's gallery at Festival of Quilts. If you are there tomorrow, why not pop in to Chrisse Seager and Hilary Gooding's lecture which gives more detail about the background to last year's challenge 'Dislocation'.
Thanks for reading!