Last week I shared some preliminary statistics relating to the timeline and location of the Vision 2020 entrants. In this post, I highlight some other vital statistics and share curatorial insights with a focus on my selection criteria. In terms of the mechanics of the entry and selection process, please see my earlier process posts which contain tips and advice:
Further Entry Statistics
I emphasise that this is a very broad-brush overview rather than a rigorous statistical analysis:
- Number of entries: 107
- Number of artists: 100 There 95 single entries, 4 double entries and one entrant that submitted 4 works. The conditions specified that “only one textile work will be selected per entrant”.
- Number of joint/collaborative entries: 2
- Number of compliant entries: a nice round 100. Seven entries were disqualified on the basis that they are not a “stitched and layered textile”, are clearly rectangular and/or are 3-dimensional. Always read the conditions to check that your work complies!
- Number of sub-optimal photos: 18+ entries were let down by their presentation including: poor lighting; out of focus; excessive cropping so I could not see the edges of the work; distracting backgrounds; crookedness and “keyholing”. It’s OK to lay your work on the floor to photograph but put down an ironed white sheet first!
- Number of returning artists: 19 selected artists had work featured in one or more of my previous travelling exhibitions. Or, to put it another way, more than 50% are newcomers. Welcome!
- Number of 4-star artists: 2 Dianne Firth and Kay Haerland have work featured in each of my four travelling exhibitions.
- Number of finalists named Mary (or some variation): 4 There are also 4 Sues, 2 Lindas and 2 Christines.
Finalists by Region
Vision 2020 features works by 40 artists. This is up from 32 for Living Colour and a matter of time. In percentage terms, Australian representation is about the same as for a matter of time. North American representation is down and this difference is made up by Europe and New Zealand. The European finalists come from Ireland, Lithuania, Sweden and England.
Materials & Techniques
The general mix of materials was unremarkable – commercial prints and solids, hand-dyes with a handful of silks, linen and laces. The only noteworthy trend, especially in the context of the theme, is that approximately 10% of entries incorporated sheers and/or tulle. There was also one entry made from plastics.
At 28% of all entries, applique continues to be the preferred technique. Piecing has jumped back up to 19% and surface design (including painting, printing, stamping, inks and pencils) has dropped to 19%. Here’s a rough comparison between entries (not selected works) for the four exhibitions.
Vision: imagery & sub-themes
I invited textile artists to explore the theme of “vision” with the optional prompt of “the power of sight: the art of seeing”. Not surprisingly, eye imagery dominated with 45% of entries incorporating an eye/iris motif or some other aspect of the eye anatomy. Portraits accounted for 11% of entries while landscapes and nature featured in 14% of entries.
As Jerry Saltz observes in his essay 33 Rules for Being an Artist, it is important to differentiate between subject matter and content and really consider what the work is about. Looking beyond the superficial subject matter, the works explored a variety of themes. This chart gives you some idea but does not capture the nuances and frequent cross-overs.
- 22% of the entries referred to eye conditions including: cataracts, macular degeneration, retinal disorders, glaucoma and presbyopia. A further 9% considered eye tests and/or glasses;
- another 30% or so incorporated environmental and social messages with concern for the future and a further 4% specifically refer to hindsight and/or foresight.
- colour and colour perception was the focus for 10% of entries; and
- the balance was rounded out by views/observations (8%), dreams/mirages (7%), macro views (5%), optical illusions (3%) and braille (3%).
My approach was to review each individual having regard to :
- design; and
In other words, I considered how the work addressed the theme of vision, visual impact/excellence in design and technical accomplishment. Has the maker used their design and materials to best express what their work is about? does the chosen technique reflect the maker is in control of the medium? Is the quilt made with skill in a way that complements (instead of distracts from) the work? I was looking for works where strong design, meaningful content and and mastery in execution all complement and reinforce each other. Approximately 50 works progressed to my short list.
Then I auditioned different combinations to create a cohesive exhibition. This time, rather than working on a computer screen, I printed and cut out 3x3cm thumbnails and moved them around on my desk. Upon shuffling the thumbnails around, the core grouping quickly was quickly revealed but the final selection took a couple of days to resolve.
Whereas works in my previous exhibitions have a 100x40cm (HxW) banner format, Vision 2020 works are 20x20in (50x50cm) square. This change in dimensions has presentation implications. Depending on available space. I anticipate that the exhibition will be presented either in two rows of twenty works (20+20!) or in one continuous line. The two-row layout implies vertical pairings so it is important that the works in each “slice” complement one another visually. For flow and engagement, I will also apply a pairs approach to the single row layout – kind of like a set of eyes.
One consequence of a deliberate pairing approach, is that strong singular works were removed from consideration. Ironically, this included my own entry (Acuity #2: Colour Blind) which did not interact companionably with the other works on the table.
I look forward to sharing Vision 2020 in the cloth. The tour program includes a two month fixture at the Gosford Hospital Exhibition Space which is an excellent opportunity to showcase textile art to the wider community. You will see that around half of the selected works highlight the importance of eye health and vision care. I embrace this focus. 90% of blindness or vision impairment is preventable or treatable. Prioritising eye health brings creative, social and economic benefits and 2020 brings extra reasonance to this theme.
Vision 2020 will premiere at the at the Australasian Quilt Convention (Melbourne: 16-19 April 2020) where I will be presenting a curator floor talk each day at 1.30pm. The exhibition will continue on tour until mid-2021 including the following venues:
- 5-7 August 2020: AQS QuiltWeek, Lancaster – The Nook
- 19–22 August 2020: AQS QuiltWeek, Grand Rapids
- 30 September – 2 October 2020: AQS QuiltWeek, Charleston
- 9 November 2020 – 15 January 2021: Gosford Hospital Exhibition Space (Level 4 Building J Main Corridor)
Further venues under negotiation. Please contact me if you have venue suggestion.
In the meantime, join me for Just a Glimpse, a series of blog posts sharing preview detail shots of each of the selected works. Just a Glimpse will be published every other day starting on 20 January. Be sure to add the RSS feed www.vision2020textiles.com/feed to your favourite reader app or subscribe for updates by e-mail:
You can also follow the exhibition over at:
- the Vision 2020 Facebook Page
- @vision2020textiles on Instagram Useful hashtags are #vision2020textiles, #vision2020artist #justaglimpseVision2020
Arja Speelman says
This post was very enlightening and informative. It truly gives me a picture of what a Juror or curator has to consider for a successful show. I really liked that the statistics were included.
Fascinating insights as usual, Brenda! Thank you for taking the time to share this with us.
Thanks Brenda for sharing this information, really interesting how you went about the decisions on the exhibit. Love the statistics Info.
Barbara Hilford says
Your written comments are very apt. (We were getting gum boots in selection photos in 2005) nothing changes!; will follow the next information with interest. Kind regards Barbara Hilford.