The Quilts of Glenn Gould

The 9th annual Quilting in the Mountains Festival was held in Sun Peaks B.C. July 19-23, 2013 and it was my duty to judge the show. With almost 100 beautiful quilts to consider, I had my work cut out for me to choose the three category winners, six honorable mentions, and best of show. Two entries in the Art Quilts category particularly intrigued me and I have received permission to share them with you here.

The Real Glenn GouldGlenn Herbert Gould (25 September 1932 – 4 October 1982) was a Canadian pianist who became one of the best-known and most celebrated classical pianists of the 20th century. According to Wikipedia, Gould was widely known for his unusual habits. He usually hummed while he played, the piano had to be set at a certain height, and he would only play concerts while sitting on an old chair his father had made. He was averse to cold, and wore heavy clothing (including gloves), even in warm places.

Two quilts at the Quilting in the Mountains Festival bore his name: “The Real Glenn Gould” and “The Eccentric Pianist—Glenn Gould in the Abstract”. Of similar size and color palette, I assumed both quilts were made by the same person. I later learned they were the work of two artists from the Fiber Art Network as entries into the upcoming exhibit “Abstracted”. Pairs of artists were challenged to illustrate their subject – one in a representative fiber art piece and one in an abstract/non-representative piece.

Jenny Perry made “The Real Glenn Gould” (18″ x 26″), the representative piece of the pair. You get a sense of Gould’s eccentricity just from looking at this portrait and his piercing eyes are unnervingly realistic. Using techniques learned in Bonnie McCaffery’s Painting Faces workshop and working with permission from an Ormond Gigli photograph, Jenny painted Gould’s face on peach-coloured cotton using fabric paints by DecoSoft and artist brushes. Silk fabrics were used for the clothing and the sheet music was printed onto a piece of cream-coloured silk noil, using a stock online photo of Bach sheet music. Mohair roving was pulled out and arranged to depict his tousled hair.

Glenn Gould in the Abstract“The Eccentric Pianist—Glenn Gould in the Abstract” (also 18″ x 26″) was created by Victoria Gray. The piece conveys an excellent sense of rhythm and movement, clearly portraying the musical theme with the dimensional gloves adding the perfect bizarre touch. Vicki combined Jenny’s silk fabrics with red and blue silk Dupioni for the treble clef and flying geese and incorporated the green silk into the background. Cotton fabric was used for the balance of the piece. Turned-edge, raw-edge, and satin stitch appliqué were used along with machine piecing to construct the piece. Actual wool work gloves with the fingers cut off were stuffed and hand stitched to the background.

Both quilts impressed me and received ribbons at the Quilting in the Mountains Festival: first place to Vicki and honorable mention to Jenny. Well done! Their pieces were also selected to appear on the “Abstracted” exhibit promotional material for the La Conner Quilt & Textile Museum, where the show will hang from October 11 to December 29, 2013. The exhibit is also scheduled for Quilt Canada 2014 in St.Catharines, ON, June 11-14, 2014. It promises to be a fascinating exploration of the continuum between realism, abstraction, and non-representation.

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  1. Can’t wait to see the exhibit in Ontario, Vivian! What a great concept. Congratulations and best wishes for the opening.

  2. The show is going to be amazing! When artists work together and challenge each other, creative sparks result in the process of art making. Saturday, Oct. 19: many of the artists will be in attendance for the official opening.
    Vivian Kapusta (curator)

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