Wednesday, July 29, 2015

'Out of Africa': Gosford, August

391 Mann Street, North Gosford NSW 2250

Alan R Tremain is Australia’s longest practising male quilt designer and is recognised internationally for his design, quilt conservation and restoration abilities. Alan’s inspiring and dramatic ‘Out of Africa’ wax cloth quilt exhibition will be opened at 2.30pm on Saturday 8th August by International Quilt Artist Judy Hooworth and introduced by the Quilt Study Group of Australia’s Convenor Karen Fail, both Life Members of the Quilters’ Guild of NSW Inc.

‘Out of Africa’ is a much awaited exhibition of dramatic and original quilts made using and inspired by African Wax Cloth. This is the first solo exhibition by Alan since suffering a stroke August 2013.

While African Wax Cloth embodies a very dramatic and colourful history, its true origin is yet to be defined. Views differ as to how Dutch wax prints entered the West African market. One view is that in the late 1800’s Dutch freighters on their way to Indonesia from Europe with their machine‐made batik textiles stopped at various African ports, and subsequently an African client base grew. African wax cloth fabrics have been widely embraced by couture fashion houses in both Europe and USA. 

One of the most popular wax cloth print themes has historically been the use of political images and campaign slogans. African wax cloth is well known for its highly stylised and innovative bold and colourful design with very graphic images. 

On additional display in this exhibition will be a quilt by an unknown African quilter using such themes. This quilt, which has miraculously survived since 1944, features on the whole‐cloth quilt backing, a print celebrating the election of William Vacanarat Shadrach Tubman as the 19th President of Liberia on 3rd January 1944. He was later to become known as ‘The Father of Liberia’. This quilt has resided in Africa, England, USA and now forms part of Alan’s private quilt collection of significant quilts. 

Another ‘presidential’ quilt on display will be one titled ‘Happy Birthday Mr President’ which bears no resemblance to the breathy birthday song, sung to President John F. Kennedy at his 45th birthday by an adoring Marilyn Munroe on May 19th 1962. Instead this quilt celebrates both President Barack Obama’s election as the 44th President of the United States as well as his birthday on 4th August. Barack’s father Barack Snr., was a Luo from Nyang’oma Kogelo, Republic of Kenya, West Africa. Obama’s parents met in 1960 in a Russian class at the University of Hawaii at Mānoa, where his father was a foreign student on scholarship. A Zairean fable, ‘The Tortoise, The Elephant and The Hippopotamus’ features pictorially as the central panel in another quilt in typical African colour palate of bright yellow, red and black. 

‘African wax cloths are so dramatic and inspiring. I found it very hard to choose which prints that excited me the most and I’ve tried to include many of my most popular quilt designs in this exhibition ranging from small to large’ Alan says. 

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