Watch: Inside the studio of a quilt-making champion
Archant © 2018
A former art teacher has won a coveted prize in the competitive world of quilting, after her textile depiction of a biblical story earned a national award.
Susie Yates, who retired from Saint Felix School in Southwold in 2016 after 20 years teaching art and textiles, said she was “blown away” by her success at the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham earlier this month, which attracts quilting enthusiasts from across the world.
Her three-dimensional creation – named The Gift and representing the offerings of the three kings to the infant Jesus – was crowned champion in the Quilt Creations category.
“It was just amazing,” she said. “I had absolutely no idea that I had the vaguest chance of winning.
“It is a piece designed as a teaching tool to take into schools and show young children part of the story of the three kings. It contains three crowns, and the gold, frankincense and myrrh. The first crown contained the star that they followed, and I embellished it with beads so it shone. It was embedded into the second crown and the third crown was in the base of the container. It is like a journey of discovery.”
The winning entry is now being taken on a tour of other exhibitions around the country until January – but its companion piece, a pictorial quilt called The Journey, hangs proudly in the hallway of Mrs Yates’ home in Brampton near Beccles.
It also relates to the same biblical story and depicts three kings representing Africa, Europe and Asia, decorated with characteristic materials from those parts of the world, and also representing their route to Bethlehem, their compass and the star they followed.
“For me, it is about bringing people from all cultural backgrounds together and encouraging that unity – having a common aim and working together,” said its creator. “It is a metaphor for life, and how we should live it.”
Mrs Yates, 59, said she began quilting seven years ago to learn new techniques for her A level textile students, and in 2014 she led the first Southwold Community Quilt project.
“It is a very physical process, creating a quilt,” she said. “You don’t have to incorporate lots of skills, but for me that is part of the charm of it.”