Monday, 3 November 2008

The quilts of Gee's Bend - a trip around the world

Yesterday Rosie and I flew interstate to see the quilts from Gee's Bend. I got up at 4:45am and we were on a 7:15am flight.

Being interstate almost felt like being in another country. I am not kidding! The public transport system was so different! We could catch a train from the airport, but there is an additional fee for entering or exiting at the airport terminals. Unlike my capital city (Melbourne), where one buys a ticket all day for all forms of transport for about A$12 - in Sydney one pays A$31.40 for an all day ticket! We couldn't believe it!! Or, one pays a particular amount for each station travelled. We paid A$20 each for return trips on the train. Ridiculous. We must have been paying for all the fare evaders, as the ticket security was pretty lax except at the airport station. (And in Melbourne, on a Sunday it's a Super Saver price of A$2.90 for an all day ticket!!)

double decker trains!!!

There were no rubbish bins. I asked at the station where I could find a bin. I was told "We have no rubbish bins". I said "Where do I put this?" (indicating rubbish). He said "In a bin, when you find one". Ridiculous. What's the problem? Do they think there will be fires or explosions in the bins? Or will people pick up the bins and throw them? I felt like I was in India, but I knew if I threw my rubbish on the ground I would be fined. I left the rubbish on the train!!! (Naughty I know, but they must be paying someone to do that).

Rosie and I planned to spend the day at the "Quilt Indulgence Festival" with exciting workshops, International quilt displays and a quilt market.

When we go to the Melbourne shows, we spend all day walking around the shops, free workshops or demonstrations and the quilt exhibits. We come home tired but full of inspiration and excitement.

We mistakenly thought we would need just as much time in Sydney. We were there for 2 hours and we were ready to come home. The International quilt displays really were fabulous. The US quilts from Gee's Bend (imagine a quilt made from old jeans on sale for US$13,000 - that's about A$26,000 at the moment!!!); and 30 of the best quilts published from a French magazine, a Japanese magazine, a New Zealand magazine and Down Under Quilts (Australian) magazine. One of my quilts was selected to tour Australia with this international exhibition.

We have been studying the quilts of Gee's Bend for a few years now. They are inspiring. Really large scale quilts. Most of the quilts at the exhibition were made from old clothes, fabric samples and furnishing fabrics.

After we perused the quilt exhibition we wanted something to eat. There really wasn't much to eat at this racecourse. The meat pie I bought was awful. I took it back and got a sandwich. The catering was bad. We must be spoiled in Melbourne. However, we met a nice quilter in the food queue and ate lunch with her and Annette Gero. Rosie said we must have stuck out like "dog's" as the only other quilters there (more about that later).

Annette is releasing a new book later this month. It will feature photos of hundreds of quilts from her personal collection - all early Australian historical quilts. The book will feature 29 quilt patterns with instructions and it weighs 2.2kg. Annette picked my brain for a few ideas, and I showed her my quilt in a magazine she had bought (I've got "street cred!!").

After that, there was nothing to do. Why? There were 5 stalls in the quilting side: one was Down Under Quilts magazines, two sold sewing machines; one sold fabric paints; and one was a general craft shop with a little bit of fabric.

The rest was scrapbooking and card-making. All the signs outside the venue were for papercrafts. We were so disappointed. (We couldn't care less about those crafts).

If we had known we only needed 3 hours at the venue, we would have still gone to Sydney. But, we wouldn't have caught such an early plane, and we would have made arrangements to visit other things in Sydney (I didn't really want to pay another $20 for train tickets if I didn't know where I was going).

So, did I have a good time? Yes. We saw what we went for (the Gee's Bend quilts), lunched with Annette Gero, bought the DVD, and I bought the first book (they sold out of the second book - they only brought 6 with them - how dumb can you get?). We had the cake, but we missed out on the icing.

Was it worth A$220 in airfares and trains (excluding travel to and from the Melbourne airport), food etc to see the quilts? I'm not sure. Maybe I could have bought both the books and the DVD and stayed at home satisfied. Maybe not.

LATER: It's not just me! I found this blog post by Ruth. See what she has to say. I really can't believe how poorly attended the exhibition was. I believe it was poorly advertised. The event is now organised by a publishing company who advertised only in their magazine. There are around 5 other magazines aimed at quilters published in Australia - the event was not advertised in them.


Brenda said...

Please don't get the idea that all trains in Sydney are so expensive. There are a handful of stations on the airport line that are privately owned and so you pay a premium to get to/from these destinations.

I also attended the exhibition on Friday and wrote about it on my blog.

Erica Spinks said...

Lorraine, I think you'll find that Australian quilting magazines do not accept advertisements for events organised by opposition titles. Whether this serves the interests of Australian quilters is not relevant. It is a business decision not to promote the opposition's activities. Erica

Bizarre Quilter said...

Thank you both for your comments. I guess I was really taken aback after months of anticipation. I haven't travelled anywhere just to attend an exhibition before.

Fay said...

How disappointing for you Lorraine. I have been to Sydney too and been horrified by the cost of transport to and from the airport; I did catch a bus into the city from the suburbs and it was reasonably priced and fast. The powerhouse museum is well worth a vsit though. Lots of textile related stuff.But lucnh with Annette Gero would have been a real treat for me!

Quilty Cat said...

Hi Lorraine, Re explosions in rubbish yes..elsewhere in the world, there have been some fairly horrific incidents in which innocent people have lost their lives. C

rooruu said...

Really interested to see your comments about the quilt show - I hadn't realised it would have so few merchants, or leave us with as much time to toddle off to other things. Regarding the book you didn't get, do a price comparison between and amazon - if the former has it, it might be cheaper (free delivery from b/d).

Apparently the show organiser did feature on a commercial radio's morning show last week, but I'm at work then and didn't hear it. Would have been good if it had been known of more widely.

Brenda's right about the airport train line. You can also get combo tickets that for one price give you trains, buses and ferries within the metro. area for a reasonable price.

All the best, Ruth

Anonymous said...

Hi Lorraine, thanks for the info about Sydney. I have not been there for a while and very interested to read about your experience. Regards Lyn