Over a decade ago I became enraptured by the quilts of Australian Judy Hooworth as seen in books she wrote and co-wrote with Margaret Rolfe. Bold, geometric patterns, vivid colors, and simple piecing based on log cabin blocks and half square triangles characterized her quilts. Some titles that floated my boat were Spectacular Scraps, Razzle Dazzle Quilts, and Quilts on the Double.
I caught up with Judy, or at least her work, in a photo from a recent art quilt show. Talk about changes. I’ve had to guess at the dates many of the quilts below were made as I haven’t yet found a catalog of Hooworth’s work.
Black Water 13 (2009?)
Creek Drawing #9 (2012?)
China Souvenir…What Lies Behind #2 (2013?)
I gather, based on a SAQA interview, Hooworth always had two tracks of quilting going on. “I designed and made original art quilts and also followed through my love of pieced quilts by adapting simple traditional patterns using contemporary fabrics and lots of colour.” Apparently she began by sewing traditional quilts to develop her skills.
She said about her approach to designing quilts,
I have to try things by making rather than using a computer program, and I gave up doing detailed drawings of proposed work years ago. I will sometimes make a sketch or photograph the fabric I’ve painted, print it out on paper and cut it apart to look at ways of using the fabric before I cut into the cloth. I like the “what if” approach, and let each step inform the next. I enjoy the challenges posed by working directly with fabrics on the design wall, engaging with design and composition along the way.
Changes in her life – a move from the city, her husband’s death, travels in Asia – have shaped her quilts. You can see how the bright colors disappeared from her work for a bit, and now are reappearing in work inspired by her recent travels. The fabric pieces are much larger, and Hooworth silk screens and monoprints many of her fabrics and images. As Kathy Loomis put it, Hooworth’s work has become more austere with time.
Unlike with some art quilters’ work, I don’t think you can say, “oh, that’s by Judy Hooworth,” the minute you look at one of her pieces. I’d love to learn more about her journey.