In varying shades of purple and green, each quilt spread out at The Square Inch, a quilting studio in Chennai, has a story to tell. There is a butterfly hovering around an intricately embroidered flower on one, and a bunch of bright purple blooms on another. On a third quilt, there are splashes of colour all around a laughing child.
These quilts are among 58 entries received as part of an annual challenge run by The Square Inch. This year, entries were invited on the theme of Abundance, and the Quilt India Foundation has curated a theme-based art quilt exhibition in the city.
“Every participant who registered was given the same bundle of fabric, and were asked to interpret the theme Abundance, however they wanted. The only riders were that they had to use the fabric given to cover at least 50% of the surface area of the quilt, and that the dimensions had to be 20×20 inches,” Tina Katwal, founder, The Square Inch says.
Varsha Sundararajan, co-founder, Quilt India Foundation says that a range of techniques which include cross stitch, applique work, confetti quilting, and even printing photographs on fabric have been used by the participants.
“Quilting is considered a craft, but we think it is a lot more than that. It is an art. We encouraged participants to pause and acknowledge abundance in its various forms, and bring out this interpretation on the quilts they worked on,” she explains.
Apart from the themed entries, Varsha says that they will also showcase a collection of temperature quilts. “These quilts have been worked on all year long by quilters, and depict everyday temperatures through colours and patterns,” she says, pointing to a quilt which has the temperatures recorded in Chennai in 2021, through shades of green and yellow.
At The Square Inch, Tina has been seeing several middle-aged as well as senior citizens coming forth to learn quilting, and pursue it as a hobby. “However, we are now also seeing an increase in youngsters interested in quilting as a stress release, and to consciously take some time away from screens. We would love for more people to explore quilting as an artistic pursuit,” she says.
As a part of the exhibition, a workshop and demonstration will also be held on January 20 at 11am. Anitha Manohar, director, National Institute of Fashion Technology will be the judge for the challenge, and will decide on the top two entries. The Square Inch, will also give a special award titled The Royal Inchworm.
Abundance, an exhibition of theme-based quilts will be held from January 20 to 22 at Sri Sankara Hall, TTK Road. Inauguration is at 4 30pm on January 19. Entry is free.