What happens when an electronic music festival, an artist and a group of quilters collide?
Judging by the result – something magical.
The vision of artist and Shambhala graphic designer Meghan Hildbrand has been brought to life by the stunning quiltwork the “Stitch Witchery Quilters”, an off-shoot of the Salmo Quilter’s Guild.
Over the past two years the group has created quilts that truly capture the essence of Shambhala: expressive, artistic, unique. They are a beautifully modern take on something so traditional and comforting.
But how on earth did they come to be?
One day back in the winter of 2010, Meghan came to visit the farm. Meghan lives in Powell River on Vancouver Island, so it’s always a treat when we get to see her here in the Kooteanys.
On that snowy winter day, Meghan and Sue Bundschuh, one of the owners of the Salmo River Ranch aka “The ShambhaMom”, found themselves talking about quilting. Sue has been an avid quilter for many years and it came up in conversation that Meghan had been painting quilts on the sides of barns in her hometown and had been incorporating quilt-like imagery into her art as of late (as you can see in the flyer below for a November 2010 art show in Nelson BC).
As the two talked, an idea was born – why not merge their talents to create a Shambhala Quilt?
Sue introduced the idea to the Salmo Quilter’s Guild but not everyone was on board with the idea. But there were a few ladies who loved the idea of the project. And thus, the Stitch Witchery Quilters were born.
When I asked Meghan about what drew her to incorporating elements of quilting into her work, she replied;
“I’m a member of the Fine Arts Club in Powell River, and I really wanted to join the quilters but you know, no time. It occurred to me that what I liked about quilting could be easily transferred to painting. I love the combination of textile patterns, the flattened drawing style, the strong symbolism.
The quilting aesthetic has vast narrative potential, each scrap can actually represent a story all its own, and together they create a larger story, sometimes histories of communities, and usually from a female point of view. I like to imagine the quilts of the future and hope communities will continue to work together to create collective art and record stories. “
Powerful. And I like her point about quilts telling a story. The Shambhala Quilts certainly do. It’s a story of nature merging with technology. Of the modern colliding with the rugged rawness of this rural piece of land we make our annual pilgrimage to. The 2011 Art Quilts featured both farm animals and wild animals. Records, lasers and our Production tower building. A sky full of stars. The flowing river. Tents with little buttons holding open the flaps.
“When I was asked by Corrine and Sue to design a quilt I couldn’t believe my incredible luck. I could design an ACTUAL quilt that would REALLY be SEWN!! Seems full-circle somehow, it is amazing what an idea can become reality. I created the pattern shown, the textiles have been left to the quilters to choose.”
When I asked Sue about the project as we led up to Shambhala 2011, this is what she told me:
“I love Meghan and her work and am proud to interpret that work in quilting. As we met each challenge in each section, our excitement grew. With our knowledge of quilting, we’d imagine the finished product. None of us had ever done anything like this before. When we found see-through fabric that looks exactly the color of real lasers, we knew the finished product would be great.”
Not only was the finished product great, the original quilt design went on to win a Gold Pinnacle Award for Best New Merchandise at the 2012 International Festival & Event’s Association Pinnacle Awards in September.
There were 5 unique quilts made from the 2011 design. One of which was purchased by one of our pre-show volunteers, Wallis. He said it best when he said,
“I love being able to literally wrap myself in art.”
The 2012 quilt design was a smaller art quilt. When I look at it, I feel like it’s story is more full of mystery. The imagery makes me feel as though I’m standing in forest clearing, with lights and lasers in the distance, enticing me to venture toward them.
I like the feeling I get when I look at it – I can imagine being there in the trees. By myself, or maybe with a friend… grabbing their hand and running toward the warmth of the bass and pulsating lights, giggling at something between just the two of us.
And the story extends beyond the imagery. The 2012 art quilt was raffled off, with the proceeds from ticket sales going to charity.
“The funds are used to promote the art of quilting in our area through working with the schools and local service groups and providing quilting instruction to anyone in our area who is interested. We also make charity quilts for needy individuals through the hospital, senior’s homes and community services. We also give bursaries to graduating high school students who are going on to home economics or art studies,” said Sue.
Giving back to our community is a big part of who we are as individuals and as a company. The quilts are one of many projects that raise money to improve the lives of others in the Kootenays.
I want to end this blog a little bit differently, and pose a couple questions to you;
What stories of Shambhala do you see in the 2011 and 2012 quilts? How do you interpret them?
What stories would you like to see told through the quilts?
Don’t be shy! I’d love to feature your answers in a future blog post!