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37 Sketches: Small Quilt Studies by Gwen Marston

The Taupo Museum also featured an exhibit by Gwen Marston who has been quilting for three decades resulting in 440 small quilts.  Gwen says that making small pieces allows her to experiment with many more artistic and technical ideas.  She also believes that she feels that it helped her develop her own aesthetic more than anything else.  In 2010, Gwen began a new series of quilts that she calls, “Small Studies”.  Her intent was to use the ideas of “the sketch” as way to push herself into creating as many different compositions as possible without repeating herself.

Red Square II 2007

Red Square II (c) 2007

The brilliant, almost Amish colors in Gwen’s quilts makes them nearly leap off the wall.  With an irrepressible eye for graphic design, each of these intricately pieced quilts is stunning, particularly so when hanging together in the large room of the Taupo Museum.

Minimal Grid (c) 2013  Small Study # 56

Minimal Grid (c) 2013
Small Study # 56

The combination of large and small quilts with the same colors and similar shapes, also presents a powerful statement.

Medallion with Three Triangles  (c) 2012 Small Study #30

Medallion with Three Triangles (c) 2012
Small Study #30

Gwen thinks of the small quilt in the above image as her “tribal style”.  When something particularly pleases her, she immediately uses it as a study for a larger piece.  This is what happened with these two quilts.  She doesn’t try to make the larger work identical to the sketch, but uses the colors and design elements worked out in the small study sketch.

Small Studies #1, #2, and #3, (c) 2010

Small Studies #1, #2, and #3, (c) 2010

Gwen developed a strong appreciation for strong, saturated colors from looking at Amish quilt.  Each of these studies were created in 2010.  37 Sketches was a powerful exhibit of quilts reminiscent of an American style of quilting more so than those often created by New Zealanders.  It was one of the four different quilt exhibits at the Taupo Museum during Symposium 2013.




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