Five Minutes with quilt artist Chitra Mandanna
Textile artist Chitra Mandanna scooped five awards at the India Quilt Festival 2019. Ahead of our tour to the 2021 edition, we caught up with her to find out more about her work and how her passion for quilting began.
ECT: How did your interest in quilting begin?
CM: I grew up in a very creative household. My father was an excellent artist and my mother was a very creative homemaker, gardener, artist and cook. She used to make quilts for us out of her old sarees, using blankets as batting. That was my first introduction to quilts. I had access to my mother's sewing machine so, at the age of five, I started stitching clothes for my dolls and I haven’t stopped since! I do all kinds of needlework, including embroidery, knitting and crochet and made my first quilt about 15 years ago.
ECT: How would you describe your work?
CM: I now specialise in art quilts, particularly portraits, which I make to commission. I am an artist (painter) by profession and I include a lot of art techniques in my quilts, using threads in much the same way I would use paint to blend the colours. I use printed fabrics for the portraits, and I love experimenting with different fabrics and fibres. For example, I used layers of cheese cloth, old denim and t-shirts to create the portrait of my maternal uncle that won the 'Best of Show' award at the India International Quilt Festival 2019. Confetti work is another technique I enjoy working with. It involves arranging tiny bits of fabric to make a picture.
ECT: Please tell us a bit about the India Quilt Festival – what makes it special?
CM: The IQF that took place in Chennai in 2019 was the first of its kind in India. There were 290 amazing quilts from across 11 countries on display. It was special for me personally because, out of the six quilts that I had submitted, I won five awards.
ECT: Congratulations! Which were they?
CM: As well as ‘Best of Show’ for the portrait of my uncle ‘Inspiration’, I won first place for my quilt titled ‘VIBGYOR’ and an honorary mention for ‘Dance of the Peacock’ in the Theme category. In the Art Quilts Category, my quilt ‘Animal Whisperer’ was awarded the ‘Judges Choice’. The same quilt also won the ‘Viewer’s Choice’ award.
ECT: You do a lot of workshops as well as making your own quilts. Why? What do you enjoy about teaching other people?
CM: There have been a few teachers in my life who have inspired me to be what I am today. I am forever grateful to them and I would be very happy if I could be an inspiration to someone else. I enjoy teaching and it's very satisfying to see my students achieve such excellent results. Most of the techniques I use are my own and I like to pass on my knowledge to others.
Chitra will be doing a talk about her work as part of our India Quilt Festival tour. Find out more here