Bowes Museum Quilt Exhibition

The Bowes Museum in Barnard Castle, seen from the bottom of the drive, showing the formal gardens in front
The Bowes Museum in Barnard Castle, seen from the bottom of the drive, showing the formal gardens in front
The Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle

The Bowes Museum is currently showing a Quilt Exhibition, as I mentioned in last week’s blog post. The Museum was the setting for my workshops last Friday: hand-stitched patchwork in the morning and crazy patchwork in the afternoon. We left the North-East (to move to the South-East) on the 4th of May this year, so it felt strange to be driving back to Barnard Castle after just five weeks away. There were ‘welcome back’ banners outside. (Clearly, for everyone, not just for me – but encouraging in any case!)

‘Welcome back’ banners outside the Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle

It is a most imposing building, not unlike a French chateau in appearance. At the front, there are extensive formal gardens as you can see in the photo at the top of the post. My trusty ‘corporate vehicle'(!) was parked on the sweeping drive leading up to the museum.

Amanda's car, a white Seat, complete with turquoise and pink decals advertising Amanda Jane Textiles
Amanda Jane Textiles, company car

Within the Bowes Museum the setting is equally grand. There is a large tiled hallway, from which a wide staircase goes up to the first floor. The area is lit by a magnificent chandelier, as seen in the photo below, taken from the first floor.

Entrance hall at the Bowes Museum, showing the doorway, black and white tiled floor and chandelier
Entrance hall at the Bowes Museum

Between the morning and afternoon classes, I went up the formal staircase and through to the exhibition gallery to see ‘North Country Quilts: In Celebration of New Aquisitions’. It was an absolute joy to see wholecloth quilts (where all the top surface is a single colour), strippy quilts (where there are vertical stripes of different colours) and pieced quilts (made by stitching patches together). All these were embellished with hand-quilted stitches in traditional patterns.

One display cabinet held a fascinating collection of templates for these traditional patterns. Templates are used to mark up the top layer of the quilt before the quilt is layered up with wadding and backing.

Templates used to mark out traditional patterns on North Country Quilts, shown at an exhibition at the Bowes Museum
Quilting templates at the Bowes Museum

There was also a delightful patchwork coverlet on show. (A coverlet has two layers and no wadding, unlike a quilt). Although it was completed in the 1930s, it looked fresh and vibrant. The exhibition included a number of photographs which linked the exhibits with their makers. With this quilt was a photo of the eleven members (just eleven!) who had made the quilt. Next to it, there was even one of a pair of curtains, which were made to match. It was especially pleasurable to see it, as I had been teaching hand-stitched patchwork techniques that morning.

Cream and turquoise blue patchwork coverlet made by Heighington Women's Institute c 1935
Patchwork coverlet made by Heighington Women’s Institute, presented to the Bowes Museum by Lynne Pepperel and Louise Reeves

The exhibition also included some examples of quilts which were made recently, using some of the traditional North Country quilting techniques. These included a quilt made by Pauline Burbidge. I heard Pauline speak about her work in Llandudno, mentioned in the blog post here.

The Bowes Museum Quilt Exhibition is on until 9 January 2022. There are many interesting things to see in the Museum in addition to the quilts and a visit is highly recommended. You can see paintings by Goya, Canaletto and El Greco, for example. Entry to the quilt exhibition is free with normal admission but you do have to reserve a timed ticket in advance. You can do that here.

Amanda Jane Textiles offers unique fabrics for sale here, quilt patterns here and classes here

Published by Amanda Jane Textiles

I am an artist, designer and maker living in Ramsgate, UK

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