The exhibition explored over 300 years of quilt-making, and had more than 65 quilts on display, from a 1690s cot cover, to more recent pieces designed by contemporary artists such as Tracy Emin and Grayson Perry. Also on display were special commissions by Sue Stockwell, Caren Garfen and Jo Budd.
With many of the pieces from the V&A’s own collection, the exhibition featured a number of quilts from different periods, from the Bishop’s Court Quilt; a sumptuous silk and velvet bedcover, with an oral narrative that links it to King Charles II's visit to an Exeter manor house in the late 17th century, to the 1730s patchwork bed hangings, displayed on bed mounts to enable visitors to view them as they were made to be seen.
The Hidden Histories, Untold Stories book uses a stunning collection of photographs to investigate the personal and social backgrounds of each quilt’s creator. The book also shows how contemporary artists use the tradition of quilt-making in their modern day works. Indeed, the exhibition itself featured a Tracey Emin installation called To Meet My Past, which explored the use of quilting as a vessel for personal memories.
In addition to the Hidden Histories, Untold Stories book, the V&A Shop continues to sell for a short period of time a limited edition collection of 18 printed cotton quilting fabrics, with each one bringing to life a design from a quilt as seen in the exhibition. The fabrics are available from a Fat Quarter size to 1 metre plus size cuts, and are priced from £3.50 upwards.
Quilts 1700 - 2010: Hidden Histories, Untold Stories is available in both hardback (£35) and paperback (£25) from the V&A Shop. The book can be purchased either onsite at the museum, or via the V&A Shop Online at http://www.vandashop.com/