Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Why buy art quilts?

I’d love to know why people buy the art that they do buy.    What reasons do people give when you ask them?

I’ve heard that people like a puzzle, they like art that isn’t too distinct so they can enjoy figuring out what it’s about..they like a little mystery in their art work!  but I’m sure for most people this isn’t the reason they buy a particular piece.   I have bought work I’ve found intriguing though; I especially like a piece that keeps giving up more and more interest.     towerblocks


LP,who has bought work from many well known quilters, also loves those constant new realizations:
“The quilts are always complicated and even after living with them for a long time I continue to discover new things upon closer examination.”

Tower Blocks


(Elizabeth Barton)


(Elizabeth Barton)



brimelow shingle close up Shingle (detail) (Elizabeth Brimelow)

I love work that you can look at every day and never tire of.    One time we bought a very pretty picture…but after a week on the wall it became so trite I had to relegate it to the guest bathroom!

I looked around at some of the pieces I have bought over the years and tried to remember what it was about the work that led me to want to own it.  Very often it was the way the piece made me feel.  Not necessarily any particular mood – I don’t have pieces that are all energetic, or all calm.   But if I look at an art work and it makes me feel something  then I’m much more likely to want it.

burbidge applecross

The feeling could be a mood – or it could be that the artist has been able to help me experience the object so well that I feel as if I’m actually in the place (in a landscape) or I can taste the fruit, or smell the flowers, or feel the wind on my face.   This was true of this vignette of a gorgeous spot in Western Scotland.


                                                                    Applecross by Pauline Burbidge


One of the prime reasons for buying a piece seems to be the quilt’s  immediate impact, an almost visceral response to a particular scene, composition, collection of colours and shapes:

“ A great assembly of rectangles and triangles”. 
  “Their visual impact always draws me to them.”
“They were so graphic. They were so powerful! I had to have one. ”
  “color combinations are very successful and effective”.

People love to own quilts that evoke memories; these add so much to the richness of the piece.  It’s wonderful when the vision of the maker and the memories of the new owner add together and multiply meanings:
  “I miss cities very much.  So many quilters are making beautiful "nature" quilts but your buildings speak to me  I also like the old cities of England  so that's an attraction on another level. ”

theredchimney230 The Red Chimney.  Elizabeth Barton

I purchased a quilt  because it was of milkweed pods, which I remember from my childhood.”

I do love it when the person who falls in love with the piece really likes the my “favorite” bit of the quilt – you know how there’s always one little section that you feel is just right?  If only every inch could be like that!

how perfect the bare tree branches are against the white sky”

Looking out the back looking out the back detail

at left

Full view
Looking out the Back

                   on right



When a quilter buys a quilt, the craftsmanship is also very important:
“The pieces that I am attracted to always have interesting construction problems that have been handled beautifully.”

Several people stressed how much more meaningful it was to own original art, that the maker’s hand had actually held and cut and stitched, rather than  “copies” or prints.  

Overall, it is what the art work adds to one’s daily life that is paramount.  I know that every time I have moved, the first thing to be placed  in each room is the art work.   As LP writes:

Each new piece brought a lot of joy into our lives. A difficult time for me was when we were trying to sell our house and the real estate agent insisted that we to put our art in storage. We have quite a few large pieces. It was very lonesome without them.”

Furniture is for sitting on or at!!  Art work gives  meaning to the space!  So well summed up by LP:
I can’t imagine a life for me without pieces of art in it. Whether it’s a quilt, a painting or sculpture, I love the art we own and consider myself very lucky to live with these treasures every day.”

If you have bought quilts, please comment on what it was that lead you to want a piece!  And if you havn’t ever bought any, then maybe it would be worthwhile thinking about it!!!  And, as always, if you have been, thanks for reading!   Elizabeth

PS I’m happy to say I’m out of hospital and taking it easy at home with beautiful spring flowers all around – it couldn’t be a better time of year to just sit and enjoy nature.


Willa said...

Well, I have not bought art quilts exactly. I have bought original watercolors........

The pieces that I have bought are all ones that "speak to my soul." And I well remember several that spoke to me and I did not bring home. They haunt me!

There is an art quilt that I covet. Made by someone I loved but who died not so long ago. I first knew her as a watercolor painter but we enjoyed quilting arts together as well.

Reproductions are safe to hang on walls. The fact they hang in homes that are admired affirms those choices. One goes out on a limb to hang original art--be it watercolor or quilt or other.

Have missed you!

Beth said...

I really wanted to buy a quilt by Mary Pal that was on the SAQA auction. It was a cheesecloth portrait of an elderly woman. It was the expression of wisdom, age and a bit of bewilderment that I found so captivating. I have always had a heart for the elderly and I think of that portrait many times a week and of the fortunate one who purchased it.

magsramsay said...

As a maker, what I realise I look for in art I buy is partly techniques or a vision /interpretation I admire but couldn't do myself!
For instance many pieces I own are more abstract and deceptively simple than the ones I make - something to aspire to.
What buyers have said about my quilts is that they
have a strong sense of place and excellent use of colour. Which is pleasing as that's what I think characterises my best work. Wish it was all like that!

Cheryl Collins said...

I own a quilt by Leslie Morgan that it took me two years to pay for. I saw a photo of it on her laptop before it was even finished and it was love at first sight. It is in shades of black and grey with a few flashes of white leaves, made a few years ago now so while some of the fabric is breakdown printed or otherwise altered there is more piecing than in some of her current work. It has curved leaf shapes and branch shapes and I still love it after owning it for several years. It hangs opposite my bed. Why do I love it? I never get bored with noticing how she achieved her effects, how something so simple packs such a punch and the few white leaf shapes speak of hope in a dark world to me.