A trip to the show, and something to say

A bright and sunny morning in Sydney

This morning I returned from what has become the annual pilgrimage to Sydney to the NSW Quilt Show. This year held back in the middle of Sydney at the newly reopened International Convention Centre. My feeling about the show are mixed. While I mostly enjoyed the day, there were a few things which I really didn’t like, and one thing in particular which has left me with a bit of an odd feeling about it all.

The Good

The quilts. Awesome work from the quilters, the best in show was a favourite (and for the first time ever I saw them before the judging and liked the best in show before knowing it was). I have to note that I didn’t get a chance to look around them all and take photos of the ones I wanted to see again and up close (more on that in a moment).

The range of make and take classes, particularly for beginners. While I have to admit to not partaking in them this year – half of the party I was with did. Both beginners in the overall scheme of things, there was a range of things which were really well suited to them and they both enjoyed having the opportunity to participate in something that they wouldn’t always have the opportunity to do.

The friends. It was a great day out with those near and quilty. Many laughs were had, and we are – even though there is bad and ugly – planning on making the trip again next year.

The Bad

The lighting in the quilt show. Really, for something that is so visual there needed to be more done to improve the lighting on the quilts. This was particularly obvious as the lighting at last year’s venue on Glebe Island was so good and allowed for better viewing of the quilts. I do understand that this isn’t always as easily said than done, but I wasn’t the only one commenting about this, and it is something that is actually able to be fixed.

The overall feel of the venue. This is a hard one to explain. The shopping side of things seemed to be very cramped. I was there on Thursday, and I hate to think what it was like on the weekend.

The food options… I was diagnosed as celiac on Wednesday morning (it has been quite a week), so I was taking close notice of these things. There were an extremely limited number of options for me (well for future me, tomorrow is the big day).

The Ugly

When it comes to this bit, this is what has left me feeling a little odd about the quilt fair. I have not really engaged with the whole gender in quilting debate – not because I don’t have an opinion, but more because me getting all ranty about the role of men in quilting or the “place” of men in quilting isn’t really something I have ever wanted to do. I have always been more interested in the tension within the quilting movement about the “modern” v “traditional” quilters (having decided I don’t really belong in either and prefer to label myself a quilter). Gender bias in quilting has raised its sometimes ugly head and I never thought I would see the day where I would see the need to say what I am about to say. But apparently I now have something to say about it. I have tried to be fair about the behaviour and have asked another who was there to read the below to make sure I was fair in my description, but I have been around some quilters to be a bit more cranky about what happened than he was.

Attending this show, his first, was my partner. He decided to do a class, to learn something new and start on his own creative path – I think the end goal is to create clothing and costumes for cosplay. He wasn’t expecting there to be other men, he was very prepared for that and didn’t see it as an issue.

So if perchance you are one of the women who were, I hope, trying to be welcoming to him by going into the class area and patting him on the shoulder saying “well done you”; or one of the ladies very loudly pointing to him and saying “look, it’s a man”… your (I hope) well meaning commentary and support didn’t really help. You have all been beginners before, and those breaks in concentration did not help at all (particularly as he had also forgotten his glasses).

I also hope that the “it’s a man” commentary isn’t the same sentiment as I have heard in quilt shops when a man enters and the women ask him to leave. Because that is not okay and I think we are a bit beyond that now. As someone who is in the beginning stages of opening my own quilt store, I really hope that this sentiment is something that doesn’t make an appearance – because that is an attitude that needs to be relegated to the past.

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