Because I am travelling at the moment, quite a long time has passed since my last entry here. Even though this tour is not primaily quilt related, I wanted to share with you the meeting I had the other day with the quilt group of the Arts and Craft Centre in Murmansk, Russia.
The short version of our previous contact goes like this:
I met some of the quilters quite by chance during a visit to the Arts and Crafts Centre on a rainy day in Murmansk 3 years ago. Later I contacted the centre for more information on the group and their projects, and wrote an article about their activities, which was published in the newsletter of the Norwegian Quilt Association. The interpreter at the centre was a great help in this process since none of the ladies could communicate in English.
Next summer my sister went to Murmansk and brought a copy of the article along with some pieces of fabric for the group. The group decided on a challenge: each one should make a small quilt with a geometrical pattern, and use a small amount of each fabric in the quilt. They called the project “Friendship”. The quilts were first shown in an exhibition set up to celebrate the group’s 15th anniversary, and has since been shown in several towns on the Kola peninsula and also in other cities in Russia.
When I knew I was going back to Murmansk this summer, I wrote to the centre and asked about the quilt group, and they would like to meet us any day that we chose, even if the regular group activities were on hold for the summer. We agreed on Friday July 2nd at 2pm.
When the small group I am travelling with came to the Arts and Craft Centre the other day (20 minutes late because of traffic), the group were there to greet us at the door, and we were invited into their regular meeting room where there were two tables full of goodies: one table with quilting goodies, and one table with refreshements: tea, coffee and lots of delicious cakes.
And then they put on a wonderful show and tell.
First we got to see all the friendship quilts, shown in the three photos above.
The only English speaking person employed at the centre was on holiday, so my sister asked her friend, Irina Paykasheva , to translate at the meeting, and she was very willing to do so, even if she was on crutches with a broken leg. She did a wonderful job of translating everything that the group leader, Tatjana Ischkaraeva, told us about the different quilts and the different larger projects the group has been taking on. I will have to write some additional posts about them later.
I had also sent some of my fabric prints along with the other fabrics, and Tatjana had mounted those on a beautifully felted piece, raw edges and all, in order to show the names along the edges. See detail of the beautiful felting below.
The group members like to try and learn new techniques, and they learn from each other.
They also had lots of beautiful patchwork clothes and bags to show us.
Felting and couching seems to be popular at the moment, and there is a lot of it in the lovely jacket shown above….
… and also in this portrait.
In this quilt the motif with the houses has been printed on fabric before it was sewn into the quilt.
They also had lots of bags to show us.
We understood that Tatjana is giving classes in sewing bags, and the results were fabulous.
The bag above she told us was inspired by Susan Briscoe’s works…
… and this is also going to be a bag when it is finished.
The husband of one of the quilting ladies was also present, and he showed us this fantastic piece made of pearls. Quite a lot of pearls and thread were used to finish this portrait.
We had a very nice couple of hours together. Irina was fully occupied with translating both ways, and there was much to tell, and so much to learn about each other. We were given a copy of the Russian quilting magazine, which has an article about one of their large projects, a catalogue of another project that some of the group members have participated in: “Black, White and Something Else”. The quilts in this project were shown at the European Quilt Meeting in Alsace, France, last year.
I also got a Russian book about machine quilting, which I look forward to studying closely when I get home.
All four of us who are travelling together received small dolls.
My husband got a very cute one. They say that if the mother of the family looks like this, it is a sign that the family fares well.
Here are the books, and my doll.
The doll’s skirt can be unlaced and taken off, and inside there is room for small presents, like thread. This is a traditional way of presenting small presents or goodies.
Before I left home, I asked if there was anything they would like me to bring, and they told me: freezer paper! It is hard to get in Murmansk, and if they should find it, it would be very expensive. I also brought all the vlisofix I could find in my sewing room, which sadly was not much, but I took some Misty Fuse, and a roll of baking paper to go with it. They seemed to be very happy to receive this.
Before we parted a group photo was taken.
Look out for the Murmansk quilters. They are now specializing in cooperating with different artists to make the artist’s pictures into quilts. This August, the quilts from the project where they cooperated with the Severomorsk artist Anatolij Sergejenko will be on show at “the Festival of Quilts” in Birmingham. The motives are illustrations of old Sami tales and legends. These were the quilts that caught my eye 3 years ago, and which I wrote about in the Norwegian magazine.
Photo of quilts in progress taken 3 years ago in Murmansk
They have since cooperated with an artist from Apatity, and are now working on a project with scenes from the Tersky coast (south east coast of the Kola peninsula).
I am looking forward to following the works of this talented group.