Sunday, August 14, 2011

Industrial landscapes

It's  ironic that as I got fed up with getting thumbs down reactions to the industrial quilts I was making and had moved onto some landscape work that I've begun to get some acceptances of them.

I’ve made 23 quilts featuring some aspect of industrial buildings.  Looking back, I had always responded to the weird juxtaposition of giant buildings in a a suburban setting.  Suburbia with its rows of identical houses gives off fumes of dullness, dreariness, predictability, inexorably depressing.  But these strange giant creatures hovering on the horizon offer an SF fantasy like intrigue.   As I recall,  there has nearly always been some fascinating industrial building in my life!

My first memory is of the gasometer at the end of our street when I was growing up.  You don't see them often now , but gasometers were like giant tanks held within a framework of lacy iron scaffolding.  The domed tanks rise and fall as (I presume) they fill/empty with gas.  I've never actually made a quilt based on the gasworks, but I've incorporated that ironwork idea into a few other things. .ofortuna72

My grandfather was a miner and I regret the taking down of the old winding wheels, the memorials to those brave and desperate dedicated men.  The old wheels of fortune dropping tokens on warm hearths, or black lungs.

 

 

milltown After my young gasometer phase I then worked in a huge Victorian chocolate factory that spread over acres and acres, it must have been about half a mile from the entrance to the technical library where I worked, picking out images for chocolate boxes and laboriously (and probably in accurately!) translating articles about cocoa bean agriculture.

. milltownmorning72

Then my next jobs were working in long stay hospitals in the moors of Yorkshire.  I would drive pas many old mill workings with their tall elegant brick chimneys, a dynamic contrast to the wide undulating expanses of the moors.

 

 


rusty answer Visiting Canada, I drove through Hamilton, Ontario and saw the steel mill across the lake.  The water is usually choppy and textured, the horizon is wide, and the mill stretches widely along the shore with more nad more variations of diagonals.

 

 

strangebeauty

 

 

 

 

 

steelyardfrieze cement works

In my home town in Georgia, I discovered an old cement works hiding behind a newly gentrified boulevard of older Southern homes with wide porches and rocking chairs.

red abandon100

 

 

 

 

 

And on a trip west , I saw these funky little drills, bobbing up and down in the fields like demented old cows, sipping the bounty of the earth. 

all that glitters is not gold


These different shapes and lines, odd pokey buildings, spires of metal and walkways of lacy iron, towers of brick and cement provide great possibilities to the designing quiltmaker!  But responses from shows, and galleries and viewers have up to now been pretty negative: reject, reject reject, "we can't sell those", "why would anyone want to make a quilt about that" "what strange colors you use" etc
and so I must admit the Muse stumbled a bit...and empty landscapes with no polluting (and let's face it they do, however complicatedly beautiful the shapes) factories or utility works began to seem more interesting, and I'm definitely wanting to move into unencumbered space. 

And then, wouldn't you know it, dear old Mr Sodslaw comes along: accept, accept, accept, will you send us one or two or more for our gallery in a power plant, for our steam museum, for the World Financial Center.....
So the Muse is looking right and left and right again at the tennis match of public taste wondering who will take the title this year!  I'll wait and see what she decides!!

If you have been, thanks for reading!!  And if you run a power plant or some wonderful industrial facility, consider buying some great art work for the board room!  or, even better, the main assembly hall.

As always, I love to get comments!   Elizabeth

14 comments:

LC said...

I'm a prairie girl and yet your industrial quilts have appealed to me often over the landscapes and houses. Maybe it is the powerful lines and shapes... I'm glad that others see this. You should come to Edmonton with a few. This is "oil country" and some of our bigger offices and hotels would look great with your quilts on their great wide (and blank) walls!

Michigoose said...

Amazing....I too love your industrial works for the incredible shapes...I've always been drawn to barns and now I've been shooting graneries, coal powered plants etc! I'm glad you're finally getting accepted for this work...unbelievable that it wasn't accepted immediately! I think that they are among your best work, and to my mind blows away most of your other landscapes.

The Happy Apple said...

I do love your quilts.

Elizabeth Barton said...

wow!! thank you all for the great compliments! I really do appreciate them. Made my day!

Chris from NJ said...

I grew up in Pittsburgh when it was a steel making city. So I am use to seeing all sorts of industrial landscapes. I love seeing you show these sorts of things in quilts rather than just "pretty" landscapes.

Kit said...

I hadn't seen these quilts of yours before (I'm a fairly recent follower) and they appeal to me as well. I love the colours and shapes... and what they say to me about our world.

Sally said...

Your industrial quilts fascinate me and are one of the reasons I took your class through QU.

Linda Strowbridge said...

I'm so glad to hear that your industrial quilts are gaining acceptance. I think they're great. And I love industrial images ... despite my concerns about the environmental impact of industry. But I think (I hope) that conflict creates opportunities for interesting art.

~ Linda ... who just spent a hunk of my vacation in Newfoundland photographing a shuttered paper mill and an active container/fishing port

Elizabeth Barton said...

I wonder if we between us can bring about a sea change in what is considered appropriate for making a quilt about!!! thank you for all your positive comments.

Annick Harris said...

I started reading your blog after an article about your work on industrial quilts appeared in "American Quilter" the AQS magazine (I believe). It reminded me of Lorraine in France where I grew up. I went to school near by the "Gasometer" and we had recess in the fumes of the near by steel mills. I really admire those quilts of yours and am glad they are selling now. Your blog and interesting topics keep me coming back. Thanks for the many thought provoking posts.
Annick now living in Texas.

Jackie said...

I've been looking at antique farm equipment...

Liz said...

Glad your industrial quilts are getting recognition - they are my favourites too. Perhaps because the imagery in them was such a feature of my childhood too.

Annie said...

I had no idea your industrial quilts were not generally accepted because I have always liked seeing photos of them. Would see them in person if I could! They have uniqueness and I like that!

Recovering Perfectionist said...

Chiming in late, but I did want to say that I too love your industrial quilts. I'm surprised they haven't gotten a better response. Trend? Personal taste? Who knows, but I would love to see more of them.