What do Dublin, Ireland and Brandon, Florida have in common? They are now and forever linked by the timeless, international fine art of quilting. That's thanks in part to Paducah's world-renowned exhibition and workshop space, The National Quilt Museum which facilitated this remarkable cultural exchange.
Each year, The National Quilt Museum annually holds a fundraising auction. Quilters and quilt guilds throughout the US donate quilts for the event. This year, one of those donations came from Brandon, Florida resident Sandy Sheffield, a member of the Piecemakers Quilt Guild of Brandon.
After Ms. Sheffield donated the quilt it went on an interesting ride. The Paducah Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) purchased it from the auction. As one of only 41 UNESCO Creative Cities, Paducah's civic and cultural leaders have a duty to represent the city on the world stage. Bureau Director Mary Hammond travels the world doing just that; recently, she arranged for Sheffield's quilt to be gifted to Dublin. Local musician and author JD Wilkes presented the quilt to the Lord Mayor of Dublin.
"I was honored to be chosen to represent my hometown in this prestigious exchange of art and literature," remarked JD Wilkes, frontman of JD Wilkes and the Dirt Daubers. "Kentucky and Ireland share a common culture, a lyrical cadence, and even a geological vein! Whether it's the Bluegrass State or the Emerald Isle, I always feel right at home." Wilkes is also the author ofÂ "Barn Dances and Jamborees Across Kentucky," a new book out now from the History Press.
Sheffield was astonished when she learned that her handmade quilt would be crossing the Atlantic for the Old Country. "When I made the quilt I could not have imagined it would end up thousands of miles away in a world-famous residence.Â I am honored and humbled that my quilt is in the Lord Mayor of Dublin's house."Â
Laura Schaumberg, Marketing Director at the CVB, expanded on the significance of the event: "We are thrilled that JD Wilkes and the Dirt Daubers shared the rich traditions of quilting and American roots music with the Lord Mayor and people of Dublin, Ireland. What an honor it is for Paducahans to connect with other cultures through creativity and expand partnerships through the UNESCO Creative Cities Network."
In 2013, Paducah became the seventh city to earn the designation of UNESCO Creative City for Crafts and Folk Art. Dublin is a UNESCO Creative City for Literature. One of the goals of the Creative Cities program is to encourage communities to interact, share knowledge, and help each other realize their full artistic and cultural potential. Interacting with unfamiliar cultures is, after all, a fantastic way to think about one's own culture in a new way.
From Brandon, Florida through Paducah, Kentucky, to the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Ireland. Ms. Sheffield's small act connected people and cultures across the globe.