Challenge – Chinese Whispers & Evolution – What we did…

We have done multiple challenges based on the Chinese Whispers style of message passing, we were curious to see how textile works would evolve from a photo to the final piece of the series.  We called the first challenge “Chinese Whispers”. The second time we did the challenge, we called it “Evolution” and did two consecutive challenges at once.
We named them Evolution 1 & Evolution 2.

Here’s how we went about them.

The first time we did the challenge we called it Chinese Whispers. (2010)

The person who suggested the challenge chose a photo and made an Art quilt from the photo (person 1).
Person 1 then handed her Art Quilt to the next person on the list, Person 2.
Person 2 was not shown the photo! She had two months to make the quilt.  Person 2 then handed Person 1’s quilt back, (not showing it to anybody) and then handed her quilt to Person 3, and so on. So at any one time, each person only ever sees 2 quilts – the one they are making, and the one that they got to make one from.
We had 7 participants in the challenge and it took 14 months to complete.

Here are the guidelines we used.

– Art quilt size was 24″ x 20″
– Orientation was makers choice
– Photo was chosen by Person 1
– Time to complete quilt was 2 months (due to size)
– No collaboration was allowed
– Quilts were not to be shown to anyone except the next person on the list until unveiling
– Names/order of participants were randomly selected

Here is the link to our first Chinese Whispers Challenge.

The challenge Participants

The Chinese Whispers challenge & Participants


In 2014, we decided to re-invent the challenge and incorporate it into our upcoming exhibition, Nature’s Threads.  We called this challenge Evolution and ran two challenges at the same time.  Evolution 1 and Evolution 2 (2014)

We started with a photo, but this time the photo was randomly selected.
We gave each participant 2 or 3 unmarked envelopes and had them bring in a nature inspired photo to be put in a draw.
Then with names in a lucky dip style ballot, we pulled the first person’s name out.  They then got to choose the photo from the photo lucky dip. Person 1 was to keep this photo secret, and base her textile work on the photo.
Names of all remaining participants were then drawn to establish the order in which their textile works were to be made and passed on.

We performed the selection process the same way for Evolution 2.  Because we did the two challenges concurrently, it was important that the draw did not result in one person having to do her two pieces in the same month or follow the same person, so there was some juggling of positions once the draw had been made. The remaining photos were kept sealed until after both challenge reveals.

The challenge took place over a period of 12 months, with 12 participants. Each artist had a month to complete her piece and pass it on to the next artist.  At no time did any participant get to see any quilts, other than the one they were given as the creative prompt, by the person on the list before them and the one that they were making. The challenge will result in two sets of 12 quilts.

The Set of Rules we established:

  • Each piece could be 2D or 3D
  • Maximum size: 30cm x 30cm x 30 cm
  • Mixed media could be used but the predominant material had to be textile
  • Each participant had 1 month to complete the work and pass to the next person
  • The work itself (not a photo) was to be passed on to the next person, usually at each monthly meeting. If this required posting, it was decided that Petty Cash would meet postage costs
  • Participation was made mandatory so that each member would have two small pieces demonstrating their style in the planned 2015 exhibition.
  • TOP SECRET: no collaboration was allowed. This facilitated the opportunity for each artist to create independently and to develop her own innovative way of thinking and problem solving.


This was the best part of all, to see how they all turned out and fit together!
Each person in order, unveiled their works and described their thought process and techniques used.

This is a great challenge because it really is a challenge! To be given an art quilt as a creative prompt with no discussion allowed, and to have only one month to create something from it was not always easy, but it was challenging.  The results are spectacular, but unfortunately we cannot show them on the blog until our exhibition in April 2015.  But here is a sneak peek.
Evolution 2

(Evolution 1 will be unveiled next week we will update the link then.)

Our Evolution Challenges will be on display in 2015 at our Exhibition “ Nature’s Threads”. Follow our blog Reddy Arts Textile Group: for venue and dates.

If you do a Chinese Whispers style challenge, we’ed love to see the results.  Please send us a link or some photos!

About Addicted2Fabric

I'm a self confessed Fabric lover and colour junkie. I'm caught between being a Painter, Sewer (not the underground conduit kind!) & a Fabric manipulator, which makes me a Textile Artist! Between my family's sports adventures & life, I still manage to finish Textile pieces! I sell Quilt Patterns and Textile Art by leading Australian designers at 2SewTextiles! Creating Art and Words...
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