Since each of us was several, there was quite a crowd. Here we have made use of everything that came within range, what was closest as well as fartherest away. (Deleuze & Guattari, in the introduction to A Thousand Plateaus, 3)

Sunday, April 15, 2012

'Paper Quilts' by Declan O'Connor

Paper Quilt (one of a series) 2011
Declan O'Connor
approx.  21 x 29.5 cm, texta on paper

This extraordinary quilt is by young artist, Declan O'Connor whom I had the privilege of meeting at Studio Artes late last year.

Quilts are conventionally defined as 'two or more layers of textile held together by stitching (quilting)'. Quilts can be broadly divided into three forms, which describe the upper layer as either pieced (patchwork), applique, or whole cloth. Furthermore, quilts are most often associated with cloth, that is a woven or felted material (OED).

So, with this definition in mind, how do Declan's Paper Quilts fit into the category of quilts?

In her book on quiltmaking, The Quilters' Kaleidoscope, Dianne Finnegan begins by explores just what makes a quilt a 'quilt', then concludes by admitting, "...the term is now imprecise...(and)...Perhaps we should leave the classification of the work to the maker"(ix - my emphasis). Despite this, however, many quilt exhibitions - even those of contemporary/innovative quilts - adhere stringently to the conventional definition, particularly in terms of layers and stitch.

So again, does this challenge Declan's use of the term 'quilt' to describe his work?

No, quite the opposite, in my opinion Declan's work effectively adds to an understanding of the quilt and it's place in the world of art where the contemporary quilt seeks to be considered.

In their discussion of space, Deleuze & Guattari describe a smooth space, as one which is: "in principle infinite, open and unlimited in every direction" (TP, 525). They give the patchwork quilt as an example of a smooth space describing it as: "An amorphous collection of juxtaposed pieces than can be joined together in an infinite number of ways" (TP, 526). And this describes the structure of Declan's quilts to which Declan, as an artist, adds his own unique and striking use of colour, rhythm and repetition thereby both reflecting and extending the concept of the quilt form.

Thank you Declan for giving me permission to include an image of your work in this blog!

Finnegan, Diane (1992) The Quilters' Kaleidoscope, Simon & Schuster Australia
TP: A Thousand Plateaus

I am grateful to arts educator and artist, Gabrielle Mordy who introduced me to Declan's work and invited me to visit that very inspiring place that is Studio Artes.

1 comment:

  1. Hi,

    I was wondering is you could help me with some research about Declan O'Conner for my AS Textile Unit One.

    Thank you