Upcoming Events

The Quilting Bee: Working Class Women's Art History

Public Event Series – Jess Bailey, Ferren Gipson, Deb McGuire, Alison Duke

  • 1 March 2024
  • 10:00 – 11:30 am
  • Part of our public events programme 'Gender and Cloth' convened by Dr Jess Bailey
  • The Foundling Museum

Join our host Jess Bailey, UCL, alongside historian Deb McGuire, Oxford Brookes University and advisor to The Quilters’ Guild of the British Isles, and author Ferren Gipson, SOAS, at a quilting bee.

As three researchers who come from families of quilters, Jess, Deb and Ferren will share knowledge at the intersection of feminist art history and artistic practice. Participants will try their hand at North Country-style quilting on historic replica quilting frames while considering how the working-class culture of the quilting bee might offer art historians new roads of inquiry.

From Wales to Gee’s Bend, they will talk about quilt culture with an attention to gender and class. Participants will also be introduced to some of the Foundling Museum's textile tokens by Collections Manager, Alison Duke. The collection represents the largest surviving archive of working-class textiles in the UK.

This programme is an introduction to the subject and is open to all; BA and MA students are especially encouraged to attend.

This workshop will take place at the Foundling Museum. All making supplies are provided free of charge and workshops are in-person only.

All workshops are wheelchair accessible.

Spaces are limited in order to create intimate discussion and instruction during making sessions; please join the waiting list if registration is full.

Image Credit: Deb McGuire, Deb working at her quilt frame, 2023. Photo courtesy of Deb McGuire.

About the speakers

  • Headshot of Jess Bailey in front of a quilt

    Jess Bailey (she/her) is an associate lecturer in history of art at University College London where she teaches Medieval art and methodology courses. Her published research addresses the representation of disability and gendered violence. Jess earned her PhD from UC Berkeley in 2022 with funding from the Paul Mellon Centre and Wellcome Collection among others. Passionate about the wider accessibility of art history, Jess runs a public education project, Public Library Quilts, where she uses the making of quilts to amplify social justice-informed visual and material culture research. Jess organises public art history programming such as The People’s Quilting Bee lectures with Sharbreon Plummer and quilt fundraisers for groups including Land in Our Names and True Colors United. She is the author of Many Hands Make a Quilt: Short Histories of Radical Quilting. 

  • Headshot of Ferren Gipson

    Ferren Gipson is an art historian and creative, researching modern art and exploring themes of politics, popular culture and identity. She is the acclaimed author of Women’s Work and The Ultimate Art Museum and, as a dynamic storyteller, has contributed to the Financial Times and hosted the Art Matters podcast. Ferren has previously taught at the Courtauld Institute and SOAS, as well as delivering guest lectures for institutions such as the Royal Academy of Art. Within her art practice, Ferren explores themes of spirituality, materiality and matrilineal ties. She has previously shown with Hauser & Wirth and Unit London.

  • Headshot of Deb McGuire

    Deb McGuire is a doctoral candidate, researching her thesis “Emotional Journeys: The British Quilt in Space and Time, 1770–1920” at Oxford Brookes University. Her research explores histories of emotion, memory and inheritance through the material culture and practices of domestic quilt making. Her recent research into the quilters of the North Country has been published in the journal Quilt Studies and forms a chapter of the forthcoming Inheriting the Family: Objects, Identities and Emotions edited by Katie Barclay et al., under contract with Bloomsbury. She is an advisor to the Quilt Collection of the Quilters’ Guild of the British Isles, York; writes a regular column for The Quilter magazine; and is a vernacular hand quilter, working at her Victorian, Welsh quilt frame.   

  • Headshot of Alison Duke

    Alison Duke is the Collections Manager at the Foundling Museum where she has worked for 19 years. She is responsible for all aspects of caring for the Museum’s collections. She is also a core member of the curatorial team working on the Museum’s exhibitions and displays while acting as the Museum’s registrar. Her main area of specialism is twentieth-century Foundling Hospital history.