Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Carol Taylor and The Harmony of Nature

 Illustration: Carol Taylor. Bountiful quilt.

Carol Taylor is a quilter of international renown who has created nearly five hundred uniquely different quilts in her short career as an art quilter, which started in 1993. Taylor works in such a wide and varied theme and format, that choosing a small number of quilts in order to illustrate this article is very hard. However, I have decided to choose three quilts from her large body of work that I am both intrigued by and admire. These three quilts may well not be the first choice of many when considering the typical character of Taylor's work, but they do seem to highlight the balanced maturity that she has achieved with her departure from the traditional structure of the quilting medium.

Illustration: Carol Taylor. Bountiful quilt (detail).

The three quilts that I have chosen deal with the theme of nature in a semi-abstract manner. Using harmonious, balanced and sympathetic colour tones, along with the natural and effortless curve and sway that is such an intrinsic part of the world of the flora and fauna of the planet, Taylor has set an agenda whereby the marriage of the many elements that make up nature have come together in a frozen, magnified and personal moment in time. These are moments that revel in the many hues and tones of colour and texture that make up the natural world. However, although her colour and texture tones, as well as her choice of composition, are both bold and positive in their choices, there remains a definite element of fragility in the work, a fragility that is often lost when nature is observed and transposed using textiles as a medium, particularly when using the often rigid framework of the quilt.

Illustration: Carol Taylor. September Song quilt.

Much of the success of these three quilts lies with Taylor's ability to break out of the working framework of the quilt. Her sensitive interpretations of nature seem to delicately lie on top of the quilted background, as if they had been momentarily and spontaneously placed there, rather than stitched to the background. Because the foreground of each of these compositions is allowed to roam free, as if to find its own compositional harmony, the pieces are in no way forced or artificial and therefore cannot be contained within the usual heading of pattern or even decoration.

Illustration: Carol Taylor. September Song quilt (detail.

These quilt work pieces have been produced by an expert in the field. Someone who has a deep, intrinsic and sensitive outlook and understanding towards colour, tone and the harmony that can be achieved through composition, as well as a deep understanding of the quilting process itself. Taylor's work may well be considered to be studies in both colour and texture, but they are acute studies and that's what makes them work well beyond the remit of quilting, into the realms of fine art itself.

Illustration: Carol Taylor. Silhouettes quilt.

Carol Taylor's work has been seen in numerous exhibitions across the US and into Europe, we are lucky enough to have seen some of her work at exhibition in Birmingham here in the UK. She has gained numerous prizes and commendations, as well as many articles and features in publications for her outstanding contribution towards quilting, and indeed the creative process as a whole.

Illustration: Carol Taylor. Silhouettes quilt (detail).

Taylor has a very comprehensive website, which features much more of her work than I have shown here, and contains details about exhibitions and publications that also feature her work. There is also information concerning her teaching workshops, which she regularly holds. The website can be found here.

All images were used with the kind permission of the artist.

Reference links:
Carol Taylor Website


Eleanor Levie said...

It's very satisfying when quilt art is critiqued by the same measures as another form of fine art, so kudoes, John!
Kudoes also to Carol A. Taylor, a very cool CAT indeed. I'm fortunate to have been able to showcase her work in my books, such as Skinny Quilts & Table Runners, and Rodale's Successful Quilting Library Series: Innovative Piecing. As with her classes and workshops, Carol invariably and generously shares her fresh style and uncommon techniques.--Eleanor Levie

John Hopper said...

Thanks for your comment Elly. I have tried, through The Textile Blog, to treat all forms of textile art, design and craft as being on an equal footing, as they all, I feel, deserve that generosity.

Sometimes textiles can be seen in the same light as you would fine art painting and sculpture, quilt art being a case in point. I think artists like Carol Taylor deserve the same respect and acknowledgement that you would give a fine artist as there is usually just as much effort, preliminary and actual, put into a projected piece as you would expect from a painter or sculptor.

Gerrie said...

I was not familiar with Carol's work. I love the gridded, stitched background with the organic leaf patterns.

Altoon Sultan said...

These are lovely. The use of transparent fabric to add light to the design is very surprising and innovative. Some of the fabric looks hand dyed, but I couldn't find any information on this on her website, whether she does her own dyeing.

I agree that separating the arts into fine art and "craft" is not at all helpful or accurate.

Unknown said...

These are GREAT! I'm glad you showed them. I love seeing Carol's work in person, but seeing these here just brings back the memories of that pleasure.

Not only is she a fantastic quilter, but she's a very nice person too!

Thanks so much for sharing these.

John Hopper said...

Thanks for all your comments. As I said in the article, these quilts are only my favourite choice of Carol Taylor's work, they may not be everyones favourite. She has many more examples on her website.

Blue said...

I like the quilts, despite being prejudiced about the art aspect of them, and really like the backgrounds more than the applied patterns.

John Hopper said...

There are probably a number of levels in which to appreciate these art quilts, from the background up.

Anonymous said...

Can attest to what a great teacher Carol Taylor was and is ! Had her classes at IHQS.