Floribunda: never again

A sad but unsurprising lesson has been learned.

I will not ever again be submitting a quilt to Mackay Show. We went yesterday morning in the hope of enjoyment and interest. Instead, I came away with a bitter taste in my mouth.

Let me set the scene. There’s a large permanent display pavilion where all the craft displays are set out. This includes needlecrafts, children’s artwork, quilts and baking. Normally, all sit together happily. However, this year, the baking and artwork and needlecrafts all seemed to have their usual allocation of space but the quilts were cramped. It didn’t strike me that there were fewer quilts than usual (although I’m willing to concede the point), but they were certainly differently displayed.

Quite a few of them were squashed into too-small gaps, folded in half or overlaid by others, whilst other quilts were shown at full size and in prime positions – and not just the prize winners. Quilts with errors of construction (points being cut off or seams not aligned, bulging and puckering, for example), were fully displayed, where others without those errors were not. (Floribunda, I’m looking at you…).

Floribunda, folded. This was all you could see of the quilt, which was stuck behind an Emergency Exit door and a table.

Justifications were offered by the display stewards, Covid-spacing being the main one; aisles between display walls now had to be wider, and apparently, “some of the ladies who didn’t win prizes took their quilts home to make space” – I heard this exact phrase from two different stewards.

It surprises me that people whose quilts were going to be improperly displayed were not contacted and offered the opportunity to withdraw and be refunded.

It surprises me that quilts with evident errors and poor construction were given full display space while those which were well made were folded and bunched up.

I’m not sad about not winning a ribbon. I don’t think the judging was wrong – the winners were beautiful quilts. What I’m sad about is that in the way the entries were displayed, excellence was not given priority.

Yes, I’m cynical. But that doesn’t mean I’m not also right.

63 thoughts on “Floribunda: never again

  1. Not a fitting end to an anticipated event. I’m sad 😔 but am just as indignant as you my friend. Sending hugs 🌹

  2. mlmcspadden says:

    Not a good representation of what the event was supposed to be about. I’m sorry that the quilts weren’t better displayed. And I’d have been as frustrated as you were.

    • katechiconi says:

      I fear there was some rather selective editing going on there. The quilting section is sponsored by a local quilting group, to which the judges and stewards belong. I don’t think I need to say any more.

  3. Sometimes situations have to become absurd before we realize it’s time to separate ourselves. I’m sorry this happened to you and to other amazing quilters, but moving away and moving on may lead to much better things.

    • katechiconi says:

      You’re right, of course. I haven’t felt the need to enter any quilts into the show for years, but thought I would in this case as perhaps I’d be able to send my niece a ribbon as well as a quilt. As I said, I’m not sad about no ribbon, but I am a bit sad at the travesty that was the display.

  4. kymlucas says:

    What a waste of talent. I understand the lack of space ditch COVID distancing, but could they not have just limited entries? Cut space evenly from each represented craft? Rescheduled?

    • katechiconi says:

      That was my thought too. Surely they must have had a pretty good idea how the space was going to be altered due to restrictions? A bit of ingenuity might have had quilts hung from the ceiling overhead, effectively double stacking the display – there was certainly enough ceiling height. And yes, cutting entries would have done it too.

  5. Chris S in Canada says:

    It must have been disheartening (to say the least) for anyone whose beautifully constructed quilt was not properly displayed. Whether is was a ribboned entry or not, every quilt (and the quilter) deserves to be shown at its best.

    It sounds like the organizers and stewards need to step back and rethink their priorities. If the venue is too small then work out a way to display differently or move to a different venue. Honour the quilts and the quilters.

    • katechiconi says:

      Thing is, the venue definitely ISN’T too small, they had many other display options which they just didn’t use. But in future I’m going to leave them to it… I’m just angry on behalf of the quilters whose work didn’t receive the consideration and care it deserved.

  6. cedar51 says:

    I agree with Kmylucas – seems that they have shot themselves in the foot, as no doubt others will give the show a wide berth in the future.

    I know that when I was involved in fibre/fabric crafts if they accepted something that had “errors” it was arranged in such a way that it could pass muster but then a NFS was added to the entry, after they informed the maker of the reason…

    But when they were short of suitable space, the entry form stated certain conditions… AND I don’t think using the covid restrictions are a reason to state at the time the show opening; that was a known way before they scheduled the show format…

    A hard lesson to learn, my friend, but one that will surely gift you a silver lining at some point…gentle hugs from across the ditch

    • katechiconi says:

      You know, in hindsight what bothers me most is not the selection bias, it’s the lack of courtesy. Once they’d finally realised it wasn’t going to fit in their planned layout, they could easily have contacted those whose quilts they planned to ‘squish’ and ask if they’d rather withdraw their quilt and receive a refund of the entry fee. I do feel there was a basic disrespect of the work…

      • cedar51 says:

        Kate, definitely – I would have withdrawn if I’d come up against that with a large object.
        I remember sending Goodnight Grandpa to a show in the SI here and it was returned and not selected because it was too large. I rechecked the application form, and made a complaint that no where on the form it stated a maximum size. This was a double handwoven and backed bed spread…of course, they never refunded me anything! I made sure that there would be NO more entries from way up in the NI…

      • katechiconi says:

        Yes… in addition to our handcrafting skills we are expected to offer mind-reading. I’ve seen that happen before! Your bedspread sounds absolutely beautiful, and its absence was their loss.

  7. I am so sorry that whoever was in charge did not do a thoughtful job of it all. It does take the fun out of it all but you at least know you did an excellent job.

    • katechiconi says:

      It made me sad. There were so many other display options they could have used which would have included all the quilts without making 20% of them look like afterthoughts.

  8. Susan Nixon says:

    That’s too bad. I’m so sorry more people didn’t get a good look at your beautiful quilt.

    • katechiconi says:

      You know, I got off very lightly compared with some… I don’t much care about what they think about my quilt, but others may, and it would be truly hurtful to them to lovingly create something beautiful only to have it squished into a corner.

  9. How vexing. I hope you were or will soon be able to retrieve Floribunda from their unsympathetic clutches, and bundle her off to people who will appreciate her properly!

    • katechiconi says:

      Monday… There are still 2 more days of the Show to go. I will probably say something at the office about the lack of space when I collect the quilt, but I won’t be a Karen about it!

  10. Marty K says:

    I would definitely be irked. If nothing else, the organizers should have been upfront about the way quilts would be displayed. (The cynical side of me wonders if one has to “know someone” to get their non-ribboned quilts displayed in full.)

  11. I agree with all the comments already made, and appreciate that they are most definitely expressed more politely and intelligently than I would be capable of. What a load of bollocks*. If it was only one or two people organising the show, then, sure, human error and bad judgement could be a valid reason. But not if there were a whole bunch of them. You hit the nail on the head with DISRESPECT. Who needs that crap? No-one. Whose handiwork deserves disrespect? No-one’s. Stuff them* and their stupid show.
    * Some words deleted and expressed less rudely in case of causing offense.

    • katechiconi says:

      You lifted the words right out of my brain. I stopped them short of the page because I do pointlessly keep trying to be ladylike despite all evidence to the contrary. I think I can now profitably leave the matter alone rather than letting it fester. But your last sentence does sum up the emotion very well!

  12. The beauty of the quilt remains intact! but it must be a very unnerving experience – so very disrespectful.

    • katechiconi says:

      It’s almost, but not quite, akin to cutting a chunk off it to make it fit. They haven’t shown the quilt, the entire work, they’ve shown *their* selected, cut-to-size portion, without reference to the design or the creator. You have put your finger on what bothered me most about the way it was shown.

  13. Imo you might be warranted in requesting a refund of your entry fee, which then of course you could donate to the show society out of generosity but point made.

    • katechiconi says:

      It was a small amount, so I’m not fussed about it, but I will say something in the office about the reduced space, just to double check if the story is the same…

  14. claire93 says:

    I’d have taken my quilt home, if they didn’t want to display it properly.

  15. tialys says:

    Your niece will be beyond delighted with her beautiful quilt – a better reward than any ribbon.

    (although I’d also say ‘stuff them and their stupid show’ )

  16. lynnefisher says:

    Any exhibition has to give equal weight and space to everyone’s work. I’ve seen some awful displays from the hanging point of view over the years as a painter. With displays like this, the pieces are better off not being in it! Yes, get it back home – I know that feeling! And give it some nurturing :>)

    • katechiconi says:

      With paintings, I think there’s a ‘sweet spot’, where the viewer needs enough space to step back and view, but also enough room to inspect surface texture and marks. With quilts, there’s an opportunity to hang them further away; they will still make an impact, even if you can’t closely inspect the quilting. I’d have been quite happy to be hung high if it meant my quilt was not effectively ‘chopped in half’ visually. Similarly, if the quilt is composed of identical overall blocks, I’d find it acceptable to be shown in a draped, narrower format. I think the show committee for this particular section is the same one that’s been doing it for the past 10 years at least and this is the way they’ve always done it, so they fail to consider other options suggested by necessity.

  17. Emmely says:

    Ahh, that sucks! If you’re doing a show, items should be displayed properly.

  18. Don’t quite see the point of asking for entries if there isn’t going to be a wonderful exhibition that everyone can enjoy. It’s not just disappointing for competitors but for the visitors… like going to an art gallery and only being allowed to see parts of some of the paintings. Each quilt, whatever its quality, should have been displayed in its entirety because it’s the only fair way to judge and the only way to truly enjoy the work. Seems to me that covid is being used as a very convenient excuse for all sorts of things.

    • katechiconi says:

      Your points are all extremely valid. It just strikes me as crazy that no one apparently sat down with the rules and the ‘acreage’ of available space and worked out how much room they’d have. They had rules about quilt sizes, so why not do the maths and arrive at a conservative entry number and when calling for entries, say it’s on a first come, first served basis. I know that mine was one of the first in, because the ladies in the Show Office told me so.

      • It sounds like nobody thought it through and then when they found they had insufficient space they didn’t know how to handle it. I feel so sorry for all the people who worked hard with their entries and then were treated so disrespectfully. I’m sure those who entered this year and had their work poorly displayed will be reluctant to join next year and the show will be poorer for it.

      • katechiconi says:

        Well, I tend to agree. After all, why would you? We might as well have left our quilts in the bags they demanded we make for transporting them…

  19. knitnkwilt says:

    Seems that such a major change in display policy should have been communicated and refund/withdrawal allowed!

    • katechiconi says:

      Yes, this. All entries went in with contact information, so it wasn’t as if they couldn’t have reached us. They just didn’t want the arguments that would have ensued when they had to justify why *our* quilts were the ones they didn’t have room for!

  20. That sort of treatment is very annoying because it is disrespectful of all the work that has gone into the quilts. They should ALL have been displayed properly and from what you say there was no reason why they couldn’t have been with a little effort. At least your was not the only one to be squeezed out.

  21. Dayphoto says:

    That is so annoying. My daughter put a quilt in a show and has the same thing happen. It’s not fair to anyone when that is the display of choice.

    • katechiconi says:

      I think it’s a bit cowardly of them not to let exhibitors know that their months of hard work is going to be squished, squashed, folded and hidden. Of course, then, they’d have to explain why this quilt and not that, why my quilt and not hers was the one to be treated this way.

  22. magpiesue says:

    I can’t help but wonder if the show committee didn’t lose some key members over the last year or two. Those with the knowledge and/or experience to have created a better showcase. It does seem the least they could have done was offer you the opportunity to withdraw your quilt. I wouldn’t have wanted any quilt of mine to be treated with less respect than anyone else’s. Just too bad. 😦

    • katechiconi says:

      They haven’t lost members due to Covid, we have been almost entirely free of it up here. I think overall it’s the same committee, doing the same thing in the same way as always and failing to apply imagination or fresh thinking to the problem. So much easier to shove it into the Too Hard basket and squash some quilts into corners

  23. of course I agree with all the comments. I wonder if the response next year will reflect peoples dissatisfaction? In weaving shows in my area judges are always chosen from outside the community and paid an honorarium. Send a link to the committee and suggest they read the comments here, perhaps they can learn something – then again perhaps not!!

  24. Debbierose says:

    It is a sad state of affairs, unfortunately the volunteers sometimes have no idea or interest in the items they are displaying. Your quilt is gorgeous and we love your work – keep your spirit’s up and happy stitching

  25. you’d think they’d have taken to opportunity to display them all over the whole show, to encourage people to visit all the stalls and areas. So sorry it was a frustration for you; if it helps, as a visitor I’d have made a complaint / left some constructive criticism in the visitor book (or what ever they had) – It’s something I have done on a couple of occasions when I’ve gone to an exhibition to support friends who have submissions . Try not to give it any more head space, and hopefully you can feel the virtual hug i’m wafting your way over the ether. x

    • katechiconi says:

      No, I’m not giving it any more consideration. The Show and all its works is a thing of the past, and to be honest, I only wanted to enter in case I might win something for the niece who’s getting the quilt (on the basis that an award-winning quilt is even better!). I don’t really care about the judging, but I do care about the other people who might have been more upset about how their hard work was treated.

  26. Tami Von Zalez says:

    A simple solution would have been to hang them from the ceiling, provided the space was set up that way. Most are required with hanging sleeves, I am guessing they didn’t have that requirement (or didn’t care).

    • katechiconi says:

      Exactly what I thought! There were enough large and small quilts that a combination would have ensured that nothing was too high to see, and yes, all quilts were required to have hanging pockets. The beams in the pavilion were exposed, so stringing wires to hang from would have been simple enough. A lack of imagination from a committee which is predominantly rather ‘mature-aged’ and set in its ways.

  27. nanacathy2 says:

    What a huge disappointment. Those charged with putting up the display clearly didn’t know good from bad. I hope the winners were chosen before the display was mounted. So sad for you.

    • katechiconi says:

      Yes, they were chosen first, as evidenced by the fact that no ribbon-winners were hidden or scrunched. I think it was just lack of imagination and ideas at work.

  28. craftycreeky says:

    Very disheartening, and then they’ll wonder why people don’t enter in future :-/

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