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Art Maker: Anneke Corbett, quilter and pastel painter

  • Quilter and painter Anneke Corbett adjusts the lettering for her October show at the Oxbow Gallery in Northampton. GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Anneke Corbett’s Oxbow Gallery exhibit includes this pastel portrait of seals in Cape Cod. GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Quilter and painter Anneke Corbett is shown alongside her quilt “Autumn Leaves” at the Oxbow Gallery in Northampton. GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • "Moonrise with Cranes," a quilt created by Anneke Corbett, is displayed at the Oxbow Gallery in Northampton. GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • "Moonrise with Cranes," a quilt created by Anneke Corbett, features thick textures. GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • “Grey Seals, North Truro,” a quilt created by Anneke Corbett. GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Quilts by Anneke Corbett, including "Autumn Leaves," at right, are displayed at the Oxbow Gallery in Northampton. GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY


Friday, October 13, 2017

A former nurse and Shiatsu practitioner, Anneke Corbett has been making good use of her retirement, creating colorful and highly detailed quilts that are often built around a mix of images and themes, such as nature, rather than the traditional geometric patterns many quilters produce.

The Florence artist, who has a show of her new work, “Colors and Seals,” at Northampton’s Oxbow Gallery this month, says she has taken a number of classes at The Hill Institute in Florence with instructors Norma Bassett and Barbara Aiken, who have helped her “refine my sewing skills enabling me to better express my ideas.” She also has made a number of pastel paintings for the exhibit.

Hampshire Life: Talk about the work you're currently doing. What does it involve, and what are you trying to achieve?

Anneke Corbett: In the past I’ve made quilts that showed an image of a much-loved pet or a familiar scene from my childhood in the jungles of Venezuela. For my new show, I’ve focused on something that’s fascinated me for years: the grey seals (Halichoerus gryphus, aka horsehead seals) that congregate on a sandbar off Cape Cod. Recently I was able to watch them more closely through a video taken through a telescope. This inspired me to make my seal quilt, which wound up being quite a technical challenge.

I was also inspired  to make the pastel portraits of the individual seals. It was both exciting and delightful to render their very individual faces, since I hadn’t really done any drawing for about 40 years.

H.L.: What do you draw inspiration from? Do you ever have any “Eureka!” moments?

A.C.: Nature is a constant source of inspiration. I’m also moved by unusual fabrics or the vibrant juxtaposition of different fabrics, and occasionally by photos, art or music. 

H.L.: How do you know when your work is
finished?

A.C.: A quilt is usually deemed finished when the top is complete and connected to the back, the batting has been done and a binding is put around the edge.

That said, when you follow a quilt pattern, the top is finished when the appropriate amount of blocks have been constructed and sewn together. But in the case of an original design, such as my seal quilt, I know that it’s done because it is as close to the ideal in my mind as I can get it.

H.L.: Name two artists you admire or who have influenced your work. What about their art appeals to you?

A.C.: I admire Henri Rousseau, whose paintings are seared into my brain because of their freshness, color and passion. And the stellar skills that Ruth McDowell, a contemporary quilter, demonstrates with math and design have made me think more deeply about what a quilt can be.

H.L.: What's the most recent event by another artist or group that you've attended and enjoyed?

A.C.: I loved Michele Marroquin’s “Love Poems to my Parents,” a wonderful, funny and moving dance performance I saw last month at the School for Contemporary Dance & Thought in Northampton.

H.L.: What's your go-to snack while you're working?

A.C.: Chocolate, nuts, and a nice cup of tea. I also like to take breaks to roll on a physio ball or to do a little yoga.

H.L.: What do you do when you're stuck?

A.C.: I work on another quilt, preferably one that is at another state of development.

— Steve Pfarrer

Anneke Corbett’s quilt and pastel exhibit can be seen through Oct. 29 at the Oxbow Gallery, 273 Pleasant Street, Northampton. There will be an artist’s reception Friday from 5 to 8 p.m. Normal visiting hours are Thursday through Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.