Little Current’s Manitoulin Circle Project quilt seen ‘round the globe

All the hard work of members of the Manitoulin Circle Project will soon be on display at a show in China, much to the delight of project leader Judy Martin.

LITTLE CURRENT – White’s Point textile artist Judy Martin is pretty used to seeing her work exhibited around the world—she has a work in four major exhibitions this coming September, two in the US and two in Toronto—but the news that ‘Mended World,’ one of the works that was a result of her community arts endeavour the Manitoulin Circle Project will be exhibited in China as part of ‘Masterworks: Abstract and Geometric’ curated by Martha Sielman and it is a quilt that holds a special place in her heart.

“That particular show, I am really proud of it,” she said. “It truly is one of the highlights of my career.”

The artist explains that “The abstract quilt, ‘Mended World,’ was one of the four meditation panels in the Manitoulin Circle Project.” The project took place between 2009 and 2013, every Thursday for four years under the leadership of Ms. Martin. “Over 140 volunteers came to the United Church in Little Current over the four-year time span to add their time and touch to the panels,” she noted. “Some were regulars, others dropped in once or twice.”

The emotional investment in the works created during the Manitoulin Circle project was pretty unique, as innumerable conversations took place as countless nimble fingers stitched the fabric together. “Making things brings unity, as well as individual accomplishment.”

Masterworks: Abstract and Geometric exhibition began at the 2017 International Quilt Festival in Houston Texas and then went on to Japan in 2018 and 2019 as well as parts of the US. The exhibit will be going to China in September and on to Germany in 2020, helping to bridge diverse cultures just as it helped bond people together on Manitoulin.

The exhibition is accompanied by a book, also by Ms. Sielman, that showcases the artist’s conceptions of the works. 

“They also had me do a little audio presentation about the work,” said Ms. Martin. “Those attending the show can push a little button and hear it. They had me talk for about 90 seconds.”

Participating artists in the exhibition come from Australia, Canada, Europe, Japan and all across the US.

The exhibition has a busy schedule ahead, including the 11th Asia Quilt Festival in Shanghai, China from September 20 to 22, the Max Berk Textile Museum, Palatinate Museum (Textilsammlung Max Berk / Kurpfälzisches Museum) in Heidelberg, Germany from February 16, 2020 to June 21, 2020 and then onto four editions of the Original Sewing and Quilt Expo, Raleigh, North Carolina from July 20 to August 1, 2020; Arlington, Texas from August 27 to 29, 2020; Cincinnati, Ohio from September 17 to 19, 2020; Fredericksburg, Virginia from October 8 to 10, 2020 and Novi, Michigan from November 12 to 14, 2020.

‘Mended World’ has certainly proven itself the not-so-little quilt from Manitoulin that could.