May 2017 Catherine Nicholls ‘Story-Telling’ Trunk Show


There was a recurring theme in the fist groups of quilts shown: the courses that Catherine had taken over five years from City and Guilds of London in the UK. For those who might be curious, the vocational training organization was founded in 1878 and has had a close link to the arts from the start.

For many of the projects, the students first developed hand-made inspiration books, and from that, designed the quilt or quilts. I was particularly taken with the stamps quilt and the accompanying wooden box book. Catherine said it was built on the idea of friends and connecting with others.



She finds inspiration everywhere. The quilt on the right was inspired by the graffiti on the walls of a butcher shop.


Heads and faces from a trip to the UBC Museum of Anthropology, graphite and ink applied directly to the fabric.


Some of what looks like paper on her quilts IS paper on her quilts, from dictionary pages to road maps. She glues the paper directly on the fabric, admitting she has no idea how it will wear over time.

My favouites were for Vancouver’s Cherry Blossom festival, years of quilts, all beautiful, and all showing an aspect of spring on the coast and the transient beauty of the flowers. The white quilt in the second photo below shows cherry blossoms in a late snowfall.

On subject ‘less visited’ in quilting, Catherine combined her love of life drawing with quilting. Using an old drop sheet, she drew the figure directly onto the fabric. The quote is from Shakespeare.


I found Catherine’s work a wonderful example of disciplined creativity, how it is possible to not only bring inspiration to life through quilts, but to actively seek out the process by which that happens.

Laurel Hickey, Programs Coordinator