Kaffe Fassett textiles at the American Museum

THE major exhibition of the year at the American Museum and Gardens, at Claverton Manor near Bath, will be the first show in the the UK of a series of quilts by the world-famous textile artist Kaffe Fassett.

The exhibition, which opens on 16th March, showcases 20 new quilts designed by the San Francisco-born artist. The series of brightly coloured patchworks have been directly inspired by the Bath museum’s renowned collection of quilts, some of which date back to the 19th Century.

Kaffe Fassett says: “I’ve always loved the quilt collection at the museum. There are so many gorgeous designs that have been a source of great inspiration to me. With all the concerns about throw-away fashion and recycling in the global consciousness, I feel deeply that this show is a brilliant reminder of what anybody can do with a creative use of fabric.”

Kaffe and his team worked closely with museum staff to select appropriate quilts from the collection. These treasures have been reimagined, and recreated using fabrics designed by the team. The resulting exhibition features these new creations hanging alongside 18 of the museum quilts which inspired the artist.

Chief curator Kate Hebert says: “This is a rare opportunity, not only to see the work of one of the greatest artists of colour and pattern, but also to see some of our own unique collection up close and personal. After the exhibition these quilts will be returning to deep storage and won’t be displayed again for at least 10 years.”

Visitors will be able to stand in a maze of quilts and compare the vintage original with its new interpretation.  In a room of darker jewel-toned quilts, the floor has been hand painted by the artist in a tumbling block pattern. The walls of the exhibition complement the vivid colours within the patchworks, with rich shades of purple, scarlet, pink, lime and lavender.

Kaffe Fassett began his career as a painter in America, but developed a passion for textiles once he moved to England in the 1960s. His work has been celebrated with worldwide acclaim, countless exhibitions, including a one-man show at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum. theatrical commissions, including from the Royal Shakespeare Company, and more  than 30 books. Accompanying the American Museum exhibition is his latest publication; Kaffe Fassett’s Quilts in America.

Kaffe says: “It seemed fitting to celebrate the 20th anniversary of my series of patchwork and quilting books with an exhibition at the museum, a place that I have held dear throughout my career.”

Kaffe Fassett’s Quilts in America runs from 16th March to 3rd November. For more information visit: americanmuseum.org

Pictured: Kaffe Fassett, and some of the quilts on display at the American Museum.