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A Day In The Life Of Someone Who Makes The Odd Quilt - London, 25th March 2014

My dear friend Laura has kindly produced a newsletter for Through Our Hands about the exhibition in London which I'm very honoured to be part of. 

I wanted to blog about a very special day for me - a career highlight to be honest. I met some cracking people and had a fab time.

I don't have many photos and those I do are blurry, so I've taken a couple which are freely available on google images and hope the people involved won't mind.

(Left) standing with fizz, in front of the quilt....but I'm racing ahead.

Diary of 25th March

Private View: Spirit of Womanhood Exhibition, The Oxo Tower Wharf, South Bank, London.

I was incredibly lucky to be selected for the above exhibition in London to hang alongside other female artists including Tracy Emin at the Oxo Tower in South Bank, London. It was the only quilt alongside ceramics, paintings, drawings so I felt doubly honoured to also be promoting the quilt-as-an-artform, as it's quite unusual for quilts to be exhibited in this way instead of the usual dedicated quilt show. I believe from what I'd heard that the text/dialogue stitched onto the quilt had made an impression. Copies of the text were handed out at the exhibition. I had also been invited to a rather spectacular opening event, with Cherie Blair, Lord and Lady Levy and Melvin Bragg. Here's what happened!

I prevaricated as I usually do. To go or not to go - it's such a pain to catch trains to London and then have to battle with the underground.  Generally speaking I have no sense of direction and I have no idea where I'm going most of the time. I blindly follow G like a faithful old dog trying to please.

But of course we went!  And apart from needing help to get into and out of all the stations because the ticket machine wouldnt read the ticket it was fine.  NB I was told politely by one station manager, that I should try using my train ticket in the machine and not the seat reservation ticket which really couldn't be expected to work.  I told him that's what happens when cousins marry.  He fell over.

We had oodles of time to spare so went for a bite to eat and spend an hour at the Tate.  This involves a walk along the south bank, next to the river.  I hadn't twigged that it was called the South Bank because it was on the South Bank of the Thames. But then I only recently found out that Banoffee pie was a mix of the words banana and toffee. What can I say?

This photo is waaay too blurry to make sense of really, but it's the only one I have of the quilt in situ. It's to the right of the pillar.

We had to pass the Oxo Tower, and can you imagine my shock - and joy (if I'd have been a child the teacher would be hurrying towards the spare pants cupboard) at seeing my quilt in a glass sided gallery on the main walkway, for all to see.  I just like to say to all those show organizers who refuse to show the Life Quilts or have hidden then behind curtains...... BLAH (raspberry sound plus tongue stuck out) and Get Real.  Everyone regardless of creed, religion, sex or age was free to see the quilt in full.

The Tate was fab and of course what a view from the restaurant window. (St Pauls Cathedral in the centre of the photo and a close up for those who haven't seen it)

We made our way back to the Oxo tower and a were allowed through and handed some fizz.  I donned a name badge and was whisked away to do a filmed interview about the work and have some photos taken.  I was introduced to lots of people and they were all lovely about the quilt.

I'd been there about 20 minutes when I began to recognize a few of the visitors  - not to put names too sadly, but I'd seen at least one of them on Eastenders.  I did recognize Lord Levy who came across to the quilt with Cherie Blair and began explaining the work and pointing out the stitched words.  He turned to ask for advice and I was introduced.  Cherie hooked her arm through mine and we talked for a few minutes about how to free machine, what the words were about, what was being sewn on the machine, the slippers (she has a pair the same!) and biscuits (which she doesn't eat). She was very kind indeed and said how much she and Lord Levy liked the quilt

Melvin Bragg arrived and he like the humour apparently. Then the speeches began.

The whole evening was to support the Charity, Women's Interfaith Network, a very worthy cause and I hope they do well promoting their message.

It was odd being in a glass cube in the middle of London with these people, and lots of other people looking in from outside.

We left quite quickly as we had a train to catch, but I had a lovely time and am so very grateful for the opportunity to exhibit with other well established, and emerging artists like myself. Tracy Emin was exhibiting, and there was some fabulous, thought provoking work on show.  I'd love to show you but don't have permission to put up their photos.

Here's a quote for you about the quilt from a newspaper - it might make you laugh!  Wrong on so many levels, but "am I bovvered?" No not really. I'm just happy.

"All different kinds of art are on display: sculpture, oil paintings, ceramics. There is even a quilt. Annabel Rainbow’s bedspread is quite extra-ordinary, depicting an elderly women sitting naked surrounded by books, revelling in all the unconventional beauty of her old age."

The exhibition's been extended to 6th April though, so if you're down in London do go and see a quilt in an unexpected place.- it's free.


  1. Your entries always make my day this one particularly gave rise to a big chuckle but seriously how fab to be part of this exhibition, unfortunately there is no way I can get up there by the 6th April.

  2. Lovely, and pleased to see you are happy and not at all 'bowered'

  3. Wow! What an amazing event and I'm glad you went to the trouble of blogging about it as I feel I have lived it with you now. I snorted at the cousins comment, very quick! (that's you being very quick not me snorting). We shall soon have to doff our caps when we are in your company ;-) but I am delighted for your success having watched you develop your artistic skills over the last few years. I really think the journalist needs a little educating to save her blushes in the future..

  4. Congratulations, it must have been such a thrill and thoroughly deserved. That newspaper quote is classic!

  5. Congratulations!!! I would be so tempted to send photos of the quilt in all its "out in the open" glory to all those closed minded, puritanical orgs that hid it. Oh, so tempted. :) I am so happy for you!

  6. wish i lived closer to see the exhibit

  7. that's so brilliant!! Such well-deserved recognition and putting your work where it should be - in a public gallery for all to see and admire.

    and yes yah boo sucks to the wowsers

  8. Congratulations. You must be over the moon. You are amazing and so are your concepts and art.

  9. Amazing whom you have to schmooze with to get recognition for your wondrous work as an 'extraordinary bedspread' - but so brilliant that lots of folks will be able to see the piece, and that you had fun. Congratulations!

  10. Bravo, Anabel! I love this quilt most out of all of them you've done. I think it's because I see ME in it. Thank you for sharing your amazing gifts with the world. You deserve attention and rich rewards.

  11. It looks like a truly wonderful show and I`m so glad your work was front and centre, despite being called a bedspread! (Seriously - who would put that on their bed? And doesn't the fact that it's in an ART show negate the fact that it's a "bedspread"?)

    I'm so glad you had a wonderful time and got to hang out with the fancy folks. :)

  12. Well done A, great to see one of your wonderful bedspreads where it should be. From now on it's The Festival of Bedspreads' as far as I'm concerned.

  13. Thank you everyone, you're very kind! Stephanie: Classic. Festival of Bedspreads it is then!!

  14. I have just returned home from the Spirit of Womanhood exhibition at the OXO tower. Your quilt was Best In Show, in my opinion. I have thought about the US quilt show that out a curtain in front of your work, in case it offended the sensibilities of the easily offended. I think you should take this as a marker of Critical Succes Factor. You don't make omelette without breaking eggs, and any serious art quilt with a message is going to provoke strong reactions. You have succeeded big time, and lots of people love it. Keep up the uncompromising messages! Well done.

  15. We, here, in the US are prudish about the human body and censor it quite strictly. But violence? Not a problem. We have no trouble seeing ooey-gooey body parts laying everywhere on the tv and movie screen, but show one breast and we have to run it through the censors. It is ridiculous for a country that claims it is free.

  16. How absolutely wonderful and so well deserved!