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Beyond the chair

For centuries it has been the target of countless butts, been dismissed as “part of the furniture” and dangerously tilted back, but now a group of Gisborne quilters, stitchers, knitters and crafters have explored a world beyond the chair.

The results of that exploration can be viewed in Beyond the Chair, an exhibition of Gisborne Quilters' works that take off in all directions from the chair as a starting point.

Every two years, the Gisborne Quilters (GQ) set themselves a fresh challenge.

“We wanted to broaden our minds and techniques so we think of different topics and choose one,” said GQ member Deb Williams.

One stipulation for the Beyond the Chair project was while materials such as wood, plastic and rope could be incorporated in a piece (and they have been) 50 percent of the work must be quilted fabric.

“It pushed the boundaries,” said Morva Thomson who created the Little Clown's Chair.

“You think ‘I can't possibly do something like that' then you see one thing then another thing comes to you and it snowballs. When you know the definition of quilting is layers of fabric stitched together, you can extend the definition of quilting.”

Made from a regular chair the red quilted seat and back are composed from sewn-together threads, snippets and scraps of thrown-away fabric.

“People throw away these scraps and I cut them even smaller. I was researching about circuses for something else when I hit on the idea of the clown's chair.”

The chair's back and white striped arms and big black buttons suggest the presence of a clown.

Artist Lina Marsh, who is known to work in mediums that range from painting, printmaking, collage, drawing, murals, sculpture, crochet and sewing, is also involved in the Gisborne Quilters.

“Because I lived with my nana and my mum, and they would crochet, knit and sew, they taught me these crafts,” Marsh told the Weekender last year.

“So not only was I buying felts and pencils, I was buying wool and needles.”

Themes in Marsh's murals include connection with the land while among her motifs is the openwork of the homely doily, an expression of Marsh's use of embroidery and crochet patterns in which she finds a connection with her mother and grandmother.

Marsh pushed the boat out with the challenge and created a sofa as a quilted coral reef.

Gisborne Quilters' Beyond The Chair opens tomorrow at 5.30pm at Tairawhiti Museum.

HERE COME THE QUILTERS: The chair as starting point for the creation of a textile artwork was the challenge the Gisborne Quilters group's members set themselves for their exhibition Beyond The Chair, and they have produced works such as Morva Thomson's Clown's Chair. Picture supplied