Sunday, July 6, 2008

ktaa annual exhibition 08 or how things don't always follow the gameplan

Our annual exhibition was scheduled for May 14th - 17th, two weeks earlier than last year as I was travelling to the States for 2 family weddings. everything was organised; VIPs invited, including to open the show, judges recruited, over 170 items entered and hung, opening night catering sorted, newspapers and tv primed and ready to go, charity representatives booked for presentation.

and then I got a telephone call.

The father emir, a much loved and respected member of the ruling al Sabah family, had just died. everything had to stop, out of respect and for the official mourning. I spent the next several hours on the phone, like 24, and with the help of my amazing committee, and the support of the Rajab family whose halls we were using for the exhibition, we rescheduled it for the following Monday, tuesday and wednesday. It meant we had to telescope the final meeting and agm into the tuesday evening after the exhibition closed for the day, and we also managed to make the charity presentation that evening too, and then I set off for the States on the wednesday, leaving the team behind to pack everything away at the end of the last day.

talk about stress! it was probably only the stress that was holding me together actually, but I was so proud of the way everyone rallied round to support their group, and pleased that despite everything, our VIPs turned up, our members turned up, huge numbers of visitors turned up, everyone thought it was fantastic and we raised about 900KD in raffle ticket sales for a quiltmade by our quilt group ladies. We donated this money to our 2008 charity, KACCH, which supports children in hospital and will be building the largest hospice in the middle east over the next couple of years.

The judged categories this year were 'quilting emotion' and 'quilting in motion'. The two winners were:

Call to Prayer, call to peace by Kathi Ewen.

and Ghobar by Janet Vigeant.

this is the best in show, Suleyman Mosque, made by Q8quilters member Diana Hill from a photo she took on holiday. She made the quilt in a class she took with Paramjeet Bawa, whose own quilt Duststorm did so well last year at Birmingham, Houston and Dubai.

this was the visitors choice, Handbags, made by Debra Norton, a very popular winning choice. And this last was the children's choice, Waqanqi and the butterfly by Shyamala Rao.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

still here...

I had no idea that it was so long ago that I last blogged. I mean I knew it was a while, but 5 months. that is shocking.

So what have I been up to in that time? Hopefully you will believe that I have been busy, there has to be something to show for all this time, right?

KTAA has monopolised a large chunk of my time. As president, I am involved in quite a bit of PR type work for the group, helping to put the name out there. I also have the day to day type admin of the group to coordinate,but I have a wonderful committee who work very hard so that I can have a great organisation to do the PR for.

We have continued to hold our monthly meetings. December was all about Feed sack quilts. One of our members, C, has a collection of these little beauties, and put together a talk about them. Sadly she ended up travelling, so I had to present it for her. It is a fascinating story, and so good that America woke up to the importance of these items in their quilting history. One of the best aspects of this was to discover that C has not only been collecting the sacks, but is making quilts with them. she doesn't believe in just building up a stash and doing nothing with them. brilliant.

January's meeting was a talk about African Textiles from John Gillow. We flew him out from the UK, complete with a large supply of samples, and he talked us on a guided tour of Africa for a couple of hours. He was also able to meet Sheika Altaf at Sadu House again. he visited Kuwait a few years ago and assisted with a book and the permanent display at Sadu House.
February saw us holding a Kuwait themed evening. In this month the Kuwaitis celebrate both their National Day and Liberation Day, so we thought it appropriate to invite Ali Al Sulaiman, one of only 2 remaining traditional bisht makers in Kuwait to come to talk to us about his work. We were lucky also to secure the services of Dr Ali Al Najadah to act as translator and to help fill in any gaps for us. A bisht is a long garment worn by men over their dishdashas for prestige and on special occasions. If you have ever seen a picture of the Emir of Kuwait in the papers or on TV, he always wears a bisht, usually black with gold embroider around the neck. They can range from the lightest open weave to heavier warmer weaves, and are therefore able to be worn all year. The gold embroidery (zari) is worked to order by a team of male embroiderers. When finished, the embroidery is pounded with a heavy metal rod over a padded base to flatten the threads and to burnish them.
March gave us the opportunity to hear about the career of Dr Keireine Canavan, Programme Director at Cardiff School of Art and Design at the University of Wales Institute, Cardiff. We are lucky that in this instance we didn't have to fly her over as her family are here anyway and she was visiting them.
And then this month, last night actually, we arranged a private viewing for the KTAA of an exhibition of Costumes from the Arab world. this exhibition was organised by the Tareq Rajab museum in Kuwait. All the costumes, about 100, came from the Rajab's private collection, which holds about 5,000 items, and is the largest private collection of Arab costume in the world. The most difficult part of organising the exhibition was choosing what to display. The real treat of the evening was that for us, they removed the barrier, gave us white gloves and we were allowed to handle the clothing. We had a brilliant evening, being able to handle the dresses and see the embroidery up close has added a huge amount to our knowledge, and we are aware of just how huge and amazing a privilege this was.

So that is a brief up to now for the KTAA. Next up is our end of year exhibition, followed swiftly by our agm and final meeting of the year. this one I can really relax on, as it will be show and tell from the group of our ladies who recently visited South Africa. KTAA organises overseas textile based trips every year, and this time they travelled around the Drakensburg mountains and Johannesburg. I am green with envy as I was unable to go with them and they all had a brilliant time. so I am busy with organising the exhibition and the agm and finishing up work to enter for the exhibition.

I spent yesterday with Zain, a telecommunications company in the middle east. they were celebrating Earth day, and held a photo competition and asked KTAA to hold a mini exhibition of re-usable carrier bags. The organiser had visited UK last summer just when Anya Hindmarsh was launching the 'I'm not a plastic bag' campaign, and decided it was something to bring to Kuwait. I challenged members to make re-usable bags out of recycled materials. We had some great entries. To my surprise, I was invited to help cut the ribbon to open the photo exhibition - now that's a first!

Aside from that, my C&G tutor, Sian, is possibly relieved that I have breathed new life into my coursework efforts. this is largely down to a fellow student who lives in Australia. We have decided to try and give each other an electronic kick up the backside, and help each other work through the assignments. I think we can do it, but just at the moment, I am a little busy with finishing work off - see above.

Kuwait has been lovely for the past few weeks in amongst the dust storms. Not too warm, not too humid. flowers all in bloom. We did have a fairly dramatic storm a week or so ago. At first it seemed like a standard dust storm, but then it intensified, and was followed in by hail and mini tornadoes. Apparantly most unusual, but I've seen one photo of hail stones 9 inches deep around a car. Kuwait doesn't do hail. some of our friends were unfortunately out in the desert when the storm hit. they had a couple of car windows broken, and the back and one side of the car taken down to bare metal. not good.

As and when I get photos in for all of this I will add them, and will try to do better at posting more regularly, yes I will!!!