The motto of Kipling’s mongoose was ‘go and find out’ and it is that sense of curiosity which is the driving force of the British Quilt Study Group. The quest to know when a quilt was made, where the fabrics came from, where the maker got their ideas for quilting patterns, were they a professional quilt-maker, what was the context in which the quilt was made? Was it a going away gift, a way of raising funds for school or church, or the beginnings of a young girl’s ‘bottom drawer’? Any and all of these can be the springboard from which quilt research starts.
The BQSG’s aim is to enable people interested in material culture – the way in which artefacts provide meaning and context to life – to investigate quilts, coverlets and all of the associated paraphernalia of patchwork and quilting, placing them in geographical and temporal timeframes. It provides a platform from which to research and study a wide variety of quilt-related subjects, and to get advice, guidance and support if you wish to pursue a topic.
Recent research projects have included the use of quilts and coverlets as memorials, a quilt and its associations with the Victorian theatre, a study of the people who acted as ‘movers and shakers’ in the quilting world in the inter-war years, a Tyneside signature quilt and several other topics.
The BQSG holds a Seminar annually (held online in 2021) at which research papers are presented. These are later published in the academic journal ‘Quilt Studies‘, now in its 23rd year. All BQSG members receive a free copy of ‘Quilt Studies’.
The Seminar, which will next be held in Glasgow in October 2022, is a chance to meet with other quilt history enthusiasts, to hear the presenters deliver their papers, see quilts belonging to BQSG members and perhaps to buy something from the sales table. Members attending the Seminar usually have the opportunity to have a ‘behind the scenes’ visit to a local textile collection – this year we will be seeing quilts in the collection of Glasgow Museums.
In addition, members receive the Group’s newsletter ‘Culcita’, published three times a year and containing reports of ongoing research, quilt exhibitions and book reviews.
Quilt study can become addictive, so if you would like to become part of this fascinating community check out the British Quilt Study Group for further information.
BQSG is one of five Special Interest Groups available for Guild members to join. Visit our website to find out more about how you can get involved in our communities and groups.