Magical Quilt Wows Judges At Top Textile Event

 Aug 19, 2015

As an artist it’s not everyday that you get to exhibit a piece of artwork at a large-scale international event and for it to receive glowing reviews.

Textile artist Jill Brennan is on cloud nine after her Magical Orchard design was chosen out of 1000 pieces to receive a “highly commended” award at the prestigious The Festival Of Quilts at the NEC in Birmingham.

We caught up with the gifted textile artist in her Sorting Office studio to find out more in this quick 60 seconds-style interview…

SO: Can you tell us about your recent experience at The Festival Of Quilts…

JB: I've been building up some designs which would be suitable for exhibition - in particular a piece of work which is very large - 2.4m high by 1.5m wide. I wanted this to be ready for The Festival Of Quilts at the NEC in Birmingham. This is an international exhibition of approximately 1000 pieces of work and for my practise is one of “the” events of the design and maker calendar. My large piece was highly commended, which I was thrilled about. It is an interpretation of a 'magical' cherry orchard in Italy. To achieve such positive comment at such a leading event has been a massive boost to me as an artist.

SO: You’ve recently hosted your first couple of workshops at The Sorting Office’s Production House…

JB: Yes, the first one, Bags Of Denim, was spread over three consecutive mornings and was aimed at young people from age 12+. The theme was about recycling denim into bags. All of the young people were shown how to work from a pattern I created and how to use a sewing machine. They were all thrilled with the results. It was a real fun time which developed confidence with the machines and some beautiful end results. Everyone who attended requested further short courses of a similar nature which I’m delighted about.

I also ran a workshop for adults which focussed on using Thermofax Screens for contemporary textile projects. It was a lively and messy time - with some exciting results.

I love running workshops and Production House is a great space to hold them. I’m planning on running a follow-up to Bags Of Denim in the Christmas holiday also another for adults – probably on fabric pictures and postcards. So watch this space!

SO: Are there any events coming up where we can see your work…

JB: I have been invited to join a leading South Coast exhibition group called Visual Marks - people within this are both mixed media and textile artists. Their next exhibition, Tides Of Change, is at The Old Chapel Textile Centre in Newbury in October. It promises to be a thought provoking exhibition. I'm hoping to contribute some personally designed and stitched digital images for this. At the moment they are in my imagination rather than reality, so we'll see. Then there’s Winter Open Studios at The Sorting Office on the weekend of November 21 and 22. I’m very much looking forward to this event as it gives me the opportunity to talk to people about my work – and, of course, show it off!

SO: Any projects or commissions in the pipeline…

JB: I have two commissions for vintage style quilts which utilise old quilting blocks. It's an interesting task as the recipients will be two young boys. So, the results will need to be robust, bold and designed for the long-term everyday use. No trains or hedgehogs but strong design and heavy fabrics. I have in my mind two pieces of work which will go off to university with the boys in many years time! 

There’s also the after-school club that I manage. We offer excellent creative activities for children in an after school environment and were recently judged as 'outstanding' by Ofsted. We have approximately100 children on roll and it's a fantastic opportunity to encourage creative ideas and fun. I am keen to develop what we do still further and so I'm looking forward to an exciting academic year ahead.

SO: And, finally, how’s life at The Sorting Office …

JB: I'm enjoying working here - it's an inspiration to see the work of others and to simply enjoy the company of people with similar interests. There's a wealth of ideas and support there. I know that I'm so fortunate to be based here and it has certainly focussed and harnessed my ideas. 

Contact Jill Brennan at jrosebrennan@googlemail.com