Quilts 1700-2010 Hidden Histories, Untold Stories, Group Exhibition, 2010
Victoria & Albert Museum, London, UK
This exhibition at the V&A featured quilts from 1700 to the present day. A number of contemporary artists including, Grayson Perry, Natasha Kerr and Jo Budd were commissioned to make pieces especially for the exhibition.
Stockwell’s beautiful, yet subversive quilt uses paper products to form a visual treatise on the Chinese economy. The quilt has been created from one of the most transferable and anonymous paper objects within contemporary society: money. Through the careful selection of both crisp, newer Chinese bank notes, and the weathered and worn older notes, long in circulation, Stockwell forms a visually arresting piece that is at once a fluid, scale-like surface, and a political statement of the importance of China to the global trade network. Following a recent visit to the country, Stockwell observed ‘I realised how productive and fast moving its economy is’. For the artist, the strength and efficiency of this national economy contributes to China’s wider global relevance, particularly to the textile trade. This piece is one of a series of quilts by Stockwell. The last one, Imperial Quilt was made of maps of the world reconfigured with the Middle East at the centre and a swatch of America woven into every continent. Gathered and collected, the materials in all the quilts refer to politics, trade and use of everyday familiar materials. For Stockwell, the continuing relevance of quilts lies in their connection to a ‘make do and mend mentality’ where recycling and ecology are an inherent part of the process. Stockwell chooses these industrial and domestic ‘commodity’ materials because, in her words, they contain ‘stains of existence’ and ‘act as ready-made signifiers’ which she can sculpt and interweave in ways that delicately reveal their obscured politics and hidden beauty. Susan Stockwell Quote - "While working in China and Taiwan (2006-8) I became fascinated by the incredible energy generated by the rapid rate of change, especially in China. The quilt A Chinese Dream is a result of my experiences. I’ve stitched and crafted almost 1000 Chinese money notes into a patterned, quilted map of the world. Like most of my work the piece refers to trade, ecology, the present economic crisis and the shifting global economy. For me personally it’s a beautiful, hand-made quilt stemming from a tradition of women recycling old clothes, passing on keepsakes and sharing in a familial process that transcends generations. Ironically the ritual processes involved in making a quilt seem to counter the crassness of money and consumerism. Money by its very nature is recycled; it’s covered with the residue of many hands, pockets and purses – what I call the Stains of Existence..... Yet we seldom think about what this everyday material actually is and consider our complex relationship with it."