2019 Benefit Auction

Redirecting the Ordinary  - Juror's Essay

The job of a juror is a difficult one. From many wonderful works of art, a juror has to put together an exhibition which is a work of art in itself. The entries have to fulfill requirements such as size and theme, as well as being visually strong, original, and making appropriate and intelligent use of techniques.

The selection the juror has to make needs to take into account not only the quality of the individual works, but also how they fit into the general scheme of things — how the whole works when the individual elements are put together. The exhibition has to be cohesive but also show variety in style, technique, and interpretation of the theme — it is a balancing act.

Jurying Redirecting the Ordinary has involved all the above. A wide range of outstanding artworks were submitted, covering a variety of themes and of approaches to a fascinating subject: finding the extraordinary in the ordinary. The unexpected was sometimes clearly visible and other times was subtle and gentle. Compositions varied from the strongly graphic to the intricate textural, and technically from traditional methods through surface design to photographic and digital interpretations.

Looking closely at everyday items reveals overlooked aspects of them — as seen for example in the delicate surface of the Ice Cube in Gay Young’s piece. The strong graphic design in Old Sink by Val Mayse, and the pencil sharpener waste with their colourful edges in A Close Shave by Helen Godden, uncover small details in ways we may have not considered before. Our surroundings, observed with a different eye, can produce beautiful and colorful effects, such as in Turning Bottles into “Stained Glass” by Sara Sharp and Silverware by Cat Larrea. Close observations of everyday tasks, such as 9.29 in the morning by Gillian Cooper and Filling Up by Karol Kusmaul, are an indication of the way repetitive and automatic daily events can become important when observed and noted carefully.

Imaginary stories and the re-imagining of every day objects make us smile — and that is a good thing — as in Dance of the Survivors by Bobbi Baugh, Summer Afternoon Tea Party by Lesley Mayfield, Garden Stampede by Pat Kroth, and Forke Family Secrets by Ann Turley. Minute details, such as in Memories by Jennifer Day and The Cloth Remembers by Terry Grant, bring to the fore the importance of noticing things which may not be immediately obvious. In other pieces we can see how a variety of items: plants, insects, snatches of memories and histories, observation of quiet moments, objects such as books or cups when seen and depicted in an original way make us realise how much we rush about without stopping to think and observe.

I was very impressed by the high quality of the work, which reflects the enthusiasm of the artists for their chosen field in general and for the theme of this exhibition in particular. I want to thank everybody who entered and assure them that acceptance or rejection of an entry is not a judgement of the quality of the artist’s work, but a reflection of the overall suitability of the work to fit a particular vision. A different juror could have made a different selection; several different exhibitions could have been selected from the entries.

It has been a pleasure and an honor, as well as a great responsibility, to be a juror for this SAQA exhibition, and I believe that the viewing audiences will appreciate the unusual and diverse creative vision of the artists.


— Alicia Merrett


Alicia MerrettAlicia Merrett is a British-Argentine quilt artist best known for her unique use of colour, which she combines with line and texture to make stunning art quilts. Originally trained as a photographer, she has worked in the arts and crafts fields for over 30 years and is a published author of a number of books on cloth dolls and related subjects, while her art quilts have been featured in many books and magazines. She exhibits both locally and internationally, and teaches extensively throughout the UK and Europe. Alicia’s current series is about maps and aerial views, and she has recently completed a commission for a quilted map of the city of York, UK, as it was in 1611. She has been a member of SAQA since the late 1990s and belongs to several textile exhibiting groups.