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Warming Body & Soul: Caohagan Island Quilts


Fri 5 Aug 2016, 10:00am–6:00pm
Sat 6 Aug 2016, 10:00am–3:00pm
Mon 8 Aug 2016, 10:00am–5:00pm
Tue 9 Aug 2016, 10:00am–5:00pm
Wed 10 Aug 2016, 10:00am–5:00pm

Where: Taylor-Jensen Fine Arts, 33 George Street, Palmerston North

Restrictions: All Ages

Ticket Information:

  • Admission: Free

Taylor-Jensen Fine Arts is hosting a show and sale of hand-made folk quilts by artisans from Caohagan Island in the Philippines.

Previously the gallery exhibited 40 quilts during the Quilt Expo held in Palmerston North in early 2015; 28 were sold at that time and an additional 6 are now available. Begun in 1996 under the tutelage of Japanese quilting tutor Junko Sakiyama, quilt making now accounts for one third of the income of this 5-hectare island in the central Philippines; 120 islanders are currently making quilts for world-wide markets. Warming Body & Soul is only the third exhibition in New Zealand by this unique craft community.

As Caohagan Island is small, all facets of island life – people, land and sea life, weather, etc. – are interrelated and interdependent. Each quilter’s sensibility to this inter-relatedness and intimacy among everything makes his or her quilt a joyful, heart-warming and often nostalgic work of art. Each quilt takes approximately three months to complete; the quilter working all day to create what is essentially a one-off hand-made artwork. Made to be used, Caohagan Island quilts function as bed covers, sofa throws, wall hangings, or even as floor-coverings. They make great gifts for weddings, baby showers, house warming and to celebrate friendships.

Caohagan Island in the Philippines is about 50,000 square metres in size and surrounded by a beautiful tropical coral reef; this lush island is home to about 600 residents. In 1987, Japanese business man Katsuhiko Sakiyama visited the island and later bought it; moving to the island with his wife Junko in 1991. In 1996, Junko, a quilting tutor in Japan, started to teach the basic techniques of quilt making to islanders who then took up the craft. Today the quilters run a cooperative where Philippine fabrics and sewing supplies are purchased in Cebu, a city about an hour from the island by boat. A person who wishes to make a quilt formulates a design, chooses the fabrics and sews the quilt all by hand. As there are no patterns each quilt is very unique and the only one of that design in the world!

Caohagan Island quilts have grown in popularity especially through exhibitions in Japan and in the United States where Caohagan quilts have been shown at American Quilt Society shows. At these quilt expos the Caohagan quilts attract comments such as: “The Caohagan Quilts are very special indeed; they are a unique expression of artistic freedom, full of love and make the purchasers very happy.”

Mr Sakiyama writes: “Caohagan Island is still covered by beautiful, untouched natural environment. The life of the people is intertwined with nature from which they receive many gifts such as fish, shells, warm sunlight, comfortable wind, clean air and rain. The islanders readily share these blessings with each other and with the world through their quilts. The people of the island very rarely leave their home, which they know very well and love all the aspects of the island including fish, shells, trees, birds, flowers, dogs, cats, buildings and one another. That is why a Caohagan quilt has a lot of love and happiness to give.”

When each quilter finishes a quilt it is judged by the community. If it has no ‘tangles’ and meets the quality standard it is accepted as a Caohagan Quilt. The co-operative then pays the quilter half of the selling price and the quilt is marketed on behalf of the group. The cooperative asks that those who treasure this work buy a quilt (or two) and share the happiness with the people on the island who are trying to make a sustainable, self-dependent future for themselves and those that follow.

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