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Rita Marshall, The Mitchell Advocate
Fri May 3 2013 8:41:15
It’s Engelina Van Essen’s work of art at the Grand National Quilt Show, but it’s Mitchell’s Pride.
Van Essen, a Mitchell resident, is no stranger to the juried, invitational Canada-wide quilt exhibition – she’s been in it several times before.
But this year Mitchell is the subject of Van Essen’s 37” by 38.5” winning entry in the 2013 “Local Colour” exhibition. Out of thousands of entries, Van Essen’s quilt was one of 50 chosen for the show.
Called “Mitchell’s Pride”, the quilt depicts a blue heron taking flight. It is currently on display at the Homer Watson House and Gallery in Kitchener.
“The river Thames meanders through Mitchell, Ontario and its wetlands, where the great blue heron is a regular visitor,” Van Essen wrote in her artist’s statement.
“This magnificent bird has been adopted as the official logo of Mitchell and the municipality of West Perth.”
“Engelina Van Essen presented us an expertly-crafted quilt depicting, with clarity and beauty, the Local Colour of her hometown, Mitchell,” said Kathy Bissett, chair of the Grand National Committee, in an email.
“She received an Award of Merit for her interpretation of the theme and for her outstanding mastery of various techniques that were evident in the construction and embellishment of Mitchell’s Pride. Her piece was inspired by a photograph by Laurie Bowman and was used with permission.”
Van Essen said the quilt took her about 150 hours to complete. Besides the 100 hours of sewing, Van Essen estimated that she spent about 50 hours planning the design and preparing the fabrics.
“I dye my own fabrics,” she said.
Van Essen has been quilting for about 40 years. She said her quilts aren’t meant to be used as blankets, but are more appropriate as wall hangings.
In fact, the Mitchell post office has one of Van Essen’s quilts hanging in its customer service area. Van Essen said she sells some of her quilts and makes some quilts by commission.
Despite her skill and success, Van Essen wasn’t keen to promote her quilt-making with the exception of “Mitchell’s Pride”
“I thought, ‘the blue heron, that is Mitchell,’” she said. “Maybe I should share it with the community.”
The Grand National Quilt Show “Local Colour” runs at the Homer Watson House and Gallery until June 23.
May 20 to May 26 is Quilt Festival Week and the extended gallery hours will be from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.