All images courtesy of Sheila Frampton-Cooper. Pictured, Kelp (detail).
US quilt artist Sheila Frampton-Cooper’s exhibition, Fantasy Abstraction, was due to be shown at The Festival of Quilts, NEC Birmingham, from 30 July until 2 August 2020. (The Festival has now been postponed until 28 July - 1 August 2021 – up to date information can be found on their website). We asked Sheila about her move to quilting from painting and the influence of California on her work.
What brought you to the world of quilting?
An organization called Project Linus. In January 2009, I answered a call to give either donations or time. Because sewing wasn't my thing, I brought some fabric to donate and ended up spending the whole day there drawing on freezer paper backed fabric. The table was set up for kids, but since none were there, I sat myself down. As I was leaving, a voice inside me urged me to return to one of the regularly scheduled meet ups. That first year I made 35 small quilts to donate, and this is how I taught myself to quilt. In January 2010, I started my first quilt as art.
Image: Venus in the Garden, Sheila Frampton-Cooper.
You work without plans or sketches, what do you think this approach brings to the aesthetic of your work?
My first love is improvising. It’s exciting but slow and can’t be rushed. My brain tends to overcomplicate everything, so I need time for solutions to come to me, naturally. Because I really enjoy the most basic technique of piecing, this provides me opportunities to problem solve! And when you add in the curved forms, it's not really a straightforward process when it comes to construction. It often requires thinking a few steps ahead and a great deal of trust. I tend to get lost in the process. What this approach brings to my work is an organic unfolding that I could never plan in advance. It is a moment in time; a period of my life; and all of that is infused in each creation.
What role does your native California play in providing inspiration for your work?
I suppose it's the constant sunshine, the diversity of Southern California and the free thinking. San Francisco was the incubator of the Hippie Movement and I am certainly a product of that. Much of my work is about nature; oceans, gardens, fantasy landscapes and various creatures. Clearly, my environment and everything I've even seen or dreamt of influences me, on a subconscious level.