There were special exhibits, featured quilters, and an exhibit of past winners. All spread out with plenty of room in the Glebe Island Exhibition Center. But wait, there's more!
Then there was Tula Pink! For an additional fee, you could attend one of her three trunk shows and lectures, featuring quilts from several of her 500 fabrics and her mother as quilt holder.
I attended the show four of the five days and the first Tula Pink lecture. I selected several other lectures to attend, including Kathy Doughty's talk on combining fabrics and some interesting speakers on quilting techniques. Thank goodness not all of the programs were about quilting! Some were for knitters and scrapbookers, too.
Australian quilters have a rich tradition of their own, even though they are heavily influenced by American quilting. They still produce big, elaborate medallion-style quilts and use a lot of applique (especially in the borders). More recently they are making vivid, complex color mixtures in new Australian traditions with large scale designer prints. This was not a juried show but the quilts were of very high quality with lots of innovation.
It is still true that local teachers influence the local quilt production. Quilters attributed their inspiration and design to local teachers and classes, and there were some similar patterns, color combinations, and techniques. But with 400 quilts there was a wide variety, too!
I saw a big trend in using circles and circle blocks in quilts. One popular teacher advocates a technique of adding a bias flange around circle blocks to make it easy to apply the circle to the background and to add a fun design element. So there were lots of those. Designers such as Jen Kingwell and Kathy Doughty also influence local quilters who are choosing the mash up of color and pattern that Australian quilters are becoming known for.
I looked for information at the show and local museums on the traditional art of Aboriginal Australians and how that art is being used in fabric design but found nothing. There was very little fabric for sale with these traditional designs. It is more available in US stores than it was at this show and there was no information about the art.
Attendees were cautioned against posting quilt photos on web sites or social media without the express consent of the quilter. But official photos were taken for use on the QuiltNSW Facebook page and Instagram account so photos of the winners are easy to find on the Internet. Best of Show went to "Rachaeldaisy " for her entry "Whizz Bang", a wild melange of circles, prairie points, and applique that is sure to influence a new generation of quilters. Look for her website (Google Rachaeldaisy) and get out those circle blocks and templates if you want to do as the Aussies do!
2016 Best of Show "Whizz Bang" by Rachaeldaisy