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Quilt display at Gibsons Public Market

Quilt display at Gibsons Public Market

Is it art or is it craft? The many quilters who live and create on the Sunshine Coast are likely familiar with this perplexing question. What started as craft, the making of blankets for warmth and durability, appears to have successfully transitioned from bed covers to wall art. Take the work of local quilter Gail Hunt, for example. Her wonderfully creative and unique quilts are on display at the Gibsons Public Market until March 31. “I would say it’s both,” says Hunt of the art versus craft debate. “You have to have the craft before you can exercise the art.”

A Gail Hunt quilt of Robert Service’s cabin in Yukon, part of Hunt’s Canadian series. Her quilts are on display at the Gibsons Public Market, where she will be demonstrating her art on March 10, 10am-2pm. Photo submitted

When Hunt was living in North Vancouver and expecting her fourth child, she took a quilting course from well-known teacher Dolores Bell. “From the moment I started, I was addicted to it and started doing it 40 hours a week,” she says. A year later, she started entering quilt shows and teaching. She’s now been practising her craft – and art – for 30 years, exhibiting internationally and earning many awards for her work. These include three Awards of Excellence from Quilt Canada, First Prize in Art Appliqué at the Great Pacific Northwest Quilt Show, and First Prize in the Relationship to Forest exhibit from Two Rivers Gallery in Prince George for her piece Regeneration. “The jury committee were artists, not quilt makers,” says Hunt of the Two Rivers exhibit. “It makes me feel proud that they see quilts as art.” She also won the Canadian Quilters Association Dorothy McMurdie Award which recognizes individuals who have made a significant contribution to quilting in Canada. Hunt self-published Quiltworks Across Canada: Eleven Contemporary Workshops, a labour of love showcasing the talents of Canadian quilters in the hopes that national guilds and conferences would start recognizing and hiring homegrown talent, instead of always turning to the U.S. She took her family on a cross-Canada road trip to research and write the book, and a second mortgage out on her house to get it printed. “I felt if I could show what skills and talents and great design we have here, maybe the guilds and conferences would hire more Canadians,” says Hunt. “I feel it was successful in that regard.”

In her own work, Hunt has developed a reputation for her innovative, more modern work using photo transfer, paint on fabric, and the confetti technique in which she uses very small scraps of fabric to create lush, relief-style landscapes. “It’s what I’ve become known for, though I did not originate the technique,” says Hunt. “The way I’ve been using it has captivated people and they think it’s pretty unusual.” Her unorthodox use of the confetti technique is the signature style of her Canadian series, whereas photo transfer features in her Elements of Construction series. The public will have an opportunity to ask Hunt about her work and techniques on Saturday, March 10 between 10am and 2pm when she will be at the Gibsons Public Market giving demonstrations. “I love every aspect of [quilting],” says Hunt. “The hand work, the machine work, the painting and dyeing on cloth. Everything is a fun process for me.”

Selections from Hunt’s Canadian series are on display until March 31 in the Coastal Room of the Gibsons Public Market, while the Elements of Construction series is in the atrium on the main floor, where, on March 10, Hunt will be demonstrating her techniques

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