Quilt retrospective featuring work of John Willard to be shown at BAC starting February 15th.

By Staff

January 27, 2014


We have a fascination about quilts.  Long a household staple in the rural community – it gets cold out there they eventually became an art form with some very traditional patterns.

Quilt sales and exhibitions draw consistently strong audiences. In southwestern Ontario quilt designs were once painted in the sides of barns.

Over time many of those traditional patterns were challenged by new artists .  John Willard was one of those who challenged the traditional; a 40 Year Retrospective of his work will take place at the Burlington Art Centre from February 15, 2014 – March 30, 2014.  The quilts will be hung in the  Lee Chin Family Gallery

Denis Longchamps is curating this exhibit and will lead the Reception & Artist Talk on February : 23, 2-4pm at the BAC

Armed with scissors, needles, threads and fabrics John Willard has been making quilts for 40 years. Not one to follow the rules of tradition, he creates his own designs. Sometimes inspired by traditional patterns he has deconstructed, others by historical events, Willard creates quilts that are beautiful and turn the craft of quilting into an art form.

Willard working on a quilt. A 40 year retrospective of his work will be shown at the BAC in February.

John Willard is a basically self-taught quilt maker. He came to quilt making via set and costume design, photography, display and collecting, and created his first quilt in 1975 after amassing a sizeable collection of antique ones. Although his first quilts were very traditional he soon branched out into his own designs, which have evolved into bravura works of intense colour and complex patterns. He is especially noted for his daring combinations of varying and disparate fabric prints. John’s quilts have been exhibited internationally in Britain, Denmark, Japan, France, Taiwan and the West Indies as well as Canada and the US. His works are in numerous private, corporate and public collections.

There is a level of precision seen in Willard’s quilts that is not seen in some traditional patterns. This Clair de Lune, done in 2002 was well received.

John teaches the art of quilt making, specializing in contemporary design for those who wish to break away from the traditional. He and his works have been featured in many books such as A Fine Line: Studio Crafts in Ontario; Design Through Discovery: An Introduction to Art and Design and magazines including City and Country Home Magazine, Select Homes Magazine, Quilters’ Newsletter Magazine, American Quilter, Embroidery Magazine, Ontario Craft and West of the City Magazine. As a photographer he published a very successful book on Victorian houses, The Gaiety of Gables in 1974.

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