Surprise Surprise

We went to an exhibition of patchwork and quilting put on by the Samphire Quilters in Kings Lynn a few weeks ago.

Initially that didn’t sound like a lot of fun to me. Once upon a time before I went to university I was taught what I thought were essential needle skills by my slightly old fashioned but deeply caring mum – that was how to darn my own socks. It was, she believed, clearly one of those essential skills like how to boil an egg that a young man ought to learn before leaving home. I can still boil an egg, but my ability with a needle and thread has been overtaken by getting married, purchasing socks made from man-made fabrics and the loss of my darning mushroom.

The exhibition put on by the Samphire Quilters was being held in St Nicholas’ at Kings Lynn – a building where I had taken photographs before, so even if the displays failed to grab me, no doubt the architecture would.

However on being ushered inside, as the rain started to descend (yet a further incentive) I happily crossed the threshold and parted with the obligatory coins.

All this sounds a bit downbeat doesn’t it at the moments from my point of view, but all that was about to change as I looked round.


The whole of the interior of this former church was a blaze of colour.

There were quilts spread across the pews, quilts displayed vertically on stands and people working on quilts on large tables.

Once my eyes had recovered from the blast of colours, I became aware of the complexity and intricacy of the patterns. There were shapes within shapes, within shapes… totally mind boggling and fascinating.

One can only guess at the hours that must have been spent designing, working out and creating these magnificent creations.

I think photographers would do well to go to one of these events. I know abstract photographers play with shapes and all that sort of thing, but the men and women who were working these fabric masterpieces could give master-classes to any groups of photographers or artists who claim that they want to dabble in creative pictures. I managed to sneak my camera out and tried one or two clandestine shots, hoping that no one would notice. A stall holder did and offered to hold her piece of work up so that I could get a better shot of it! What a surprise – but that was the general attitude – no problem about taking photographs. Yet another bonus.



The last surprise came when I looked at the price tags. I expected hundreds perhaps even thousands of pounds might be changing hands, especially when one considers the work that has gone in to them. Not so £65 would secure a very nice quilt. Really posh ones were over £100. Everything I saw was very reasonably priced.

To say I was impressed by the whole experience is a massive understatement. I think these craftspeople, who gained my total admiration for dedication, should receive much more recognition and remuneration for what they produce.

Samphire Quilters do have a website at with details on it. They are exhibiting at NEC Birmingham from 8th – 11th August. Tell your friends – I do.