The Festival of Quilts, taking place from 29th July – 1st August at the NEC, Birmingham, will be hosting the first exhibition of the projects featured in Jenni Smith’s recently published and highly acclaimed book ‘Quilting with Liberty Fabrics’. Each quilt tells the story of a decade in Liberty London’s rich past from 1875 to the present day and is brimming with history and intrigue.
Read on for an interview with Jenni Smith about her work and upcoming exhibition at the festival and to find out about ticket competition for Selvedge readers.
Jenni, this will be the first exhibition of projects featured in your highly acclaimed book about your passion for Liberty fabrics. Can you tell us more about what visitors to The Festival of Quilts can expect to see?
The Quilting with Liberty Gallery is going to showcase many of the lovely quilts from the book which I have been waiting desperately to share since the photoshoot in the Liberty store almost two years ago!
As an acclaimed maker and artist, what is it about Liberty Prints – and Liberty London’s history – that fascinates you so much?
To begin with, Liberty has an archive of over 50,000 prints and the company was founded back in 1875 by Arthur Liberty so each of the quilts in the book represents a decade in the store’s rich history. I wanted to tell stories through the medium of quilts and provide inspiring and accessible patterns for makers.
Your Festival of Quilts gallery will feature work by other talented quilters. What can you tell us about that showcase please?
I love the work created by UK makers Florence Knapp and Suzanne Campion with Liberty Fabrics and was delighted when they agreed to be part of this gallery space too. Florence is bringing along some of her new cutout pictures which I am super excited to see and Suzanne is a marvel at fussy-cutting and intricate piecing so they will add so much value to the experience and we will all be there to chat and meet with Liberty fans and share stories about our love of these special prints.
You’ll also be hosting a lecture about the collection. What would you like visitors to take away from that experience?
The lecture is jam-packed with lots of gorgeous photography from the book, stories behind the making of it and includes some art history and insights into this iconic brand. It is fun, informative and a real celebration of all that Liberty prints mean to us.
The COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns have given many of us more time to pursue our favourite crafts. Have you found comfort in making during these challenging times?
My sewing space has been my sanctuary for sure and the creative community online has been a real comfort and inspiration. However, I cannot wait to see people at The Festival of Quilts again - it is always my annual quilting highlight and gives me such energy and enthusiasm for months afterwards. I truly missed it last year and cannot wait to be back.
You are a member of The Quilters’ Guild. What does the Guild mean to you and what do you get out of membership?
The Quilters’ Guild should be celebrated because it adds so much value to our craft and I love visiting them and seeing their quilts at exhibitions like The Festival of Quilts. The Guild is a network of incredible people and they have always been such a support to me in all my creative endeavours.
Jenni Smith is a Yorkshire-based pattern designer, quilter, tutor and author. Her exhibition, Quilting with Liberty Fabrics, is at The Festival of Quilts at the NEC Birmingham from 29th July-1st August 2021. Jenni will be hosting a lecture on the same subject at The Festival of Quilts on Thursday 29th July at 4.30pm.
We're delighted to have 5 pairs of tickets to give away for the Festival of Quilts. The Festival features hundreds of hung competition quilts, a full programme of workshops, talks, lectures and demonstrations, galleries by leading textile artists and groups, and hundreds of specialist craft retailers under one roof. Tickets are worth £34 per pair and are redeemable any one day of the Festival after 11am (Thursday 29th July-Sunday 1st August). Please note that there is a £6 charge for winners attending on Thursday 29th or Friday 30th July.
Visit the Selvedge Instagram account to find out more information about entering the competition.