Chris Coulbeck-McMurray has been TQG President as well as the Exhibition Convenor of Island Quilts from 2013 – 2015. She has generously agreed to answer some questions regarding the history of the guild’s annual exhibition, now called Island Quilts.
1. What was your first experience with Island Quilts?
My first experience with the Tasmanian Quilting Guild’s exhibitions was in 1993 when the exhibition was held in Ulverstone. I exhibited a quilt made for my nephew called “The Farm”. I also entered the block Challenge and won Viewer’s Choice.
Up until 2004, the Guild held the “TQG Exhibition” every two years, alternating the location between the North, North West and the South. These exhibitions were not judged but prizes for Viewer’s Choice were given.
At the June 2003 meeting a motion was passed to hold an annual, judged exhibition with Expertise Events commencing in 2004 for a five-year period. This was a major change and there was a lot of discussion as to whether a small Guild such as ours could supply sufficient quilts each year to make the display worthwhile. The decision to have Exhibition judged was also controversial as some welcomed it and others disapproved.
The TQG Exhibition of 2004 was held from 31 March to 3 April at the Silverdome, Launceston. At the December 2004 Annual General Meeting, I was voted President again and became involved in the Exhibitions for 2005 and 2006, both held at the Derwent Entertainment Centre in Hobart.
My first experience with” Island Quilts” was in 2007 when the name was changed to “Island Quilts”.
2. What major changes have you seen come in over the years? Were there particular things that were successful or less successful?
The first major change was going from biennial to annual in conjunction with a major organisation such as Expertise Events. This raised the bar significantly and although it was a steep learning curve, the members took on the challenge and produced a great number of quilts each year.
The second major change was the quilts being judged and the Best of Show, sponsored by Bernina, going to the Best of Australia finals each year. This raised the quality of the quilts being produced at all levels.
Beryl Cross and her husband moved from Victoria to Tasmania and Beryl became involved with the Guild and the Exhibitions. Beryl felt we needed to ramp up our approach to the whole show and make it more marketable. The name “TQG Exhibition” was a bit dry so it was changed to “Island Quilts” bringing it in line with our newsletter “Island Threads”. This identified the show as Tasmanian beyond doubt. Beryl brought with her all the experience of the shows run by Victorian Quilters Inc and she updated the Handbook, the quilt labels, Prize Certificates and many other areas.
3. What is your favourite Island Quilts memory?
My favourite memory of all the Island Quilts I was involved in, is the last day after take down. It has been three days on the floor of the show, prior to that, collecting the quilts, judging, photography, hanging day, prize-giving, evening with the judges, etc.
It is all over, hopefully the quilts will get back to their owners, there were a couple of dramas but nothing too serious and everyone had a good time. I am home, I am tired, and I am sitting down with a glass of wine in my hand. That is the best moment.
4. What is your favourite role as a volunteer?
I enjoyed my time as Exhibition Convenor, 2013-2015, as I saw all aspects of running Island Quilts. It is a large event with many components and getting it all to come together is a lot of work. I was incredibly lucky in the hardworking team that supported me on the Island Quilts Committee.
5. Are there any changes you would like to see in the future?
Island Quilts will evolve and respond because there will always be changes to sponsors, location, time of year and the quilt fashions of the day.
However, there is one change I would like to see. That is the attitude of some quilters that “my quilts are not good enough for a big show”. My hope is that one year we have an Island Quilts with at least one quilt from every member. I realise some of our members are of advanced years and do not produce the number or complexity of quilts they once did. But there could be a non-judged category with a retrospective look at some of the best quilts from those older members who have been solid supporters of the Guild for many years. Maybe this would also encourage those younger members who do not enter.