Last month I had the opportunity to visit the enormous Festival of Quilts in Birmingham, England. My quilt Confetti was being exhibited as part of the Fine Art Quilt Masters exhibit during the Festival, and when two friends asked me if I’d like to go, I jumped at the chance. Here’s a roundup of my first international quilt show experience.

Fine Art Quilt Masters Exhibit at the Festival of Quilts, 2018 – Cindy Grisdela

The Festival of Quilts, or FOQ, is perhaps the largest quilt show in Europe, with nearly 30,000 visitors each year. There are quilts on display in a variety of different categories, special exhibits, vendors, classes, lectures and demos. I spent three days there, and still feel like I didn’t get to see everything!

One of the best things about the show was getting to meet some of my Instagram friends in person. Alexandra Kingswell does colorful wall quilts based on math and she had a stunning special exhibit at the show. The special exhibits were hung gallery style on hard white walls, so the work really was shown to its best effect.

Quilts by Alexandra Kingswell at FOQ 2018 - Cindy Grisdela

Quilts by Alexandra Kingswell at FOQ 2018 – Cindy Grisdela

Chris English creates wonderful quilts he calls “crumb quilts” that are a riot of color and shape.

Solid Crumb Blocks Quilt by Chris English FOQ 2018 - Cindy Grisdela

Solid Crumb Blocks Quilt by Chris English FOQ 2018 – Cindy Grisdela

Sarah Hibbert designs striking improvisational quilts with a modern feel.

Modern Improv Quilt by Sarah Hibbert at FOQ2018

“Happenstance” by Sarah Hibbert FOQ 2018 – Cindy Grisdela

And Alicia Merrett is a glorious colorist with abstract designs that look a bit like a landscape from an airplane.

Quilt by Alicia Merrett FOQ 2018 – Cindy Grisdela

There were many others too!

My friend Sarah Entsminger, who is from the DC area and one of the artists I went to the show with, won an Honorable Mention for her quilt in the show–or “Highly Commended” as they say in the UK–but I somehow didn’t get a photo of it. Check out her website to see her beautiful landscape work.

I’ve been to England several times, but never to Birmingham, so Sarah and I took a day to explore.

Some of my favorite places were the Secret Garden at the Birmingham Library with its beautiful textures inside and out.

Texture at the Birmingham Library - Cindy Grisdela

Texture at the Birmingham Library – Cindy Grisdela

I loved this iconic “book ring” at the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery.

Birmingham Museum Book Ring

Book Ring at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery – Cindy Grisdela

And this classic pub exterior.

Pub View Birmingham – Cindy Grisdela

And the ubiquitous warning signs in the train stations.

Plus, it’s always a treat to see my book out in the wild!

Artful Improv at FOQ 2018

It was an amazing experience to visit the Festival of Quilts–I hope I get to go back sometime! My only disappointment was that my quilt got a little rumpled in Customs and the rumples didn’t get a chance to hang out during the time the show was up. Next time I’ll pack it differently to hopefully avoid that.

1 Comment

  1. Kathy on September 11, 2018 at 1:51 pm

    Thank you for sharing. Some fabulous quilts. Enjoyed seeing them.