The Cottage Orné Quilt

The Cottage Orné Quilt
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Friday, 7 January 2011

The American Museum at Claverton Manor

The American Museum at Claverton Manor in Bath is 50 years old this year and is celebrating the event by bringing some of their collection of quilts to Christies in London.
This will of course attract a wide audience, especially at this time of year when the Musuem is closed.  However, anyone interested should later make the journey to Claverton on the outskirts of Bath, just 100 miles down the M4 later in the year, otherwise they are missing a treat.

I credit my visits to Claverton Manor as the beginning of my patchwork and quilting journey.  Before the early 70s, it was difficult to find anything written about patchwork and quilting and only the WI (Women's Institute) had kept the flag flying.  However they only seemed to do pieced hexagons over papers and I had found that boring and had given up.  Just one visit to Claverton changed my perception and I realised that there was diversity in the craft and I have never looked back.

Though the permanent collection of quilts was the main attraction, the Manor itself and its grounds are delightful giving us a taste of  American history in room settings and tableaux form.  There are buildings in the grounds filled with folk art and in recent years an exhibition gallery has been built in which there used to be an annual exhibition of quilts.

Sadly this policy has changed and now there are exhibitions of other artifacts.  This surely must have meant a drop in their visitor numbers, because I for one rarely visit now.  Quilts bring in the punters and I do long for a change of policy!  Bring back the annual quilt exhibition I say! I have written to the museum to this effect but had no reply!


Erica Spinks said...

I visited here in 2009, after hearing how wonderful it was. I have to say I was very disappointed with the quilts and with the other displays (I thought they were quite ordinary), but loved the actual building and gardens.

Radka said...

Hallo Mary, it seems that we like to visit same places:) I wrote about The American Museum in October ( see "fairs & exhibitions" on my blog if you like). I agree, the quilt exhibition was in the same room as other stuff. Even so, on a nice day it is a pleasant day out, as I am not too far from Bath.

Little Welsh Quilts and other traditions said...

It certainly isn't as good as it once was and I thought last year's quilt show was disappointing, but I still love going there - rose coloured specs may be? I think the idea of having a permanent collection of quilts that you can flip through should be taken up by more museums. I believe this and many other ideas were taken from the Shelburne Museum in Vermont which is fabulous. I must do a post on that!

Sue said...

I believe the change of policy came about after a new curator came on the seen and their interest was not in quilts. We always had our annual pilgrimage to see the quilts- I did go this year but that was the first time for about 8 years.

The Shelburne has a wonderful collection that you can thumb through. Its a shame no photography is allowed , However I was allowed with their permission to use the camcorder as it dosen't have flash, so I do have some wonderful film- Also a lot of the museum floor where I forgot to turn the camera off.

Frances Leate said...

I had the good fortune to visit Claverton Manor in September 2009 and thoroughly enjoyed the visit and would definitely put in on my itinerary for future visits to the UK. However, it would be nice to be able to see more quilts!!! Happy New Year from Far North Queensland

antique quilter said...

Maybe a letter writing campaign to the new curator will change his/her mind? I am sorry to hear this as I can only imagine the collection of quilts they own.
Happy New Year.

AdyQuilts said...

I was there in June 2010 - they had a smallish quilt exhibition in the gallery building, with some of the best quilts in the collection on display. This was to coincide with the V&A quilts exhibition, and someone on the museum's staff said something to the effect that the previous curator was not too fond of textiles, but that his/her replacement does realize the value of quilts as a visitors' attraction.
I loved the fact that in the main museum you can actually "leaf" through the quilts on display. On the whole, and combined with a visit to delightful Bath, it was a wonderful experience that I'd be happy to repeat.

Heirlooms by Ashton House said...

I hope your letters and those of other dissatisfied quilters will convince Claverton to bring back the quilt exhibition. I would love to see the Manor in person someday. The grounds look beautiful. The last photo (of the garden) reminds me of Colonial Williamsburg.

scott davidson said...

As an artist myself, I enjoy reading Philip Koch's sensitive writing about Edward Hopper and Andrew Wyeth, who along with Whistler and Rothko, are my favorite American painters.
I don't live in the United States but have traveled and passed a short time there. But even with the little time spent in your beautiful country, especially in small-town America, I can relate to some of the poetical feel that Hopper and Wyeth had captured in their art, which is for me part of the attraction of their paintings.
Browsing at the other day, as I do now and then, I find a good selection of Edward Hopper's work, ,in the big archive of Western Art, that customers can order online for canvas prints and even hand-painted, oil-painting reproductions can be made and sent to them.
Hopper's surrealistic and depersonalized world is there again. Timeless, yes, as it is still there now in the roadside cafes and diners that I ate at all over America.