raja quilt

The Raja Quilt made by women convicts coming to Australia

Hello all

Yesterday I had the privilege of going to our Queensland Art Gallery in Brisbane for the very first time! As the man at the Gallery desk said, “Well done … it’s only taken you 32 years!

I had invited my neighbours to come with me and see the ‘Quilts 1700–1945’ Exhibition, which came from the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. They had presumed that I had been to the Art Gallery before – as they had been many times – but no, I had never graced the walls of this delightful place.

And I had not graced the walls of the adjoining State Library, the Museum and The Gallery of Modern Art (known as GoMa) either. So here it is – out there – for all the world to see: I HAVE NEVER BEEN TO THE ART GALLERY EVEN ONCE IN 32 YEARS!

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This Quilt has the world in the top corners and depictions of England and perhaps Ireland down the bottom

However, I do hope to rectify this omission by going many times in the next years for it is a beautiful place to visit and spend one’s time in the pursuit of art. I have however, been to Art Galleries in other towns that I have visited but it is surely a travesty not to visit the Gallery in one’s home town … is it not?

This morning as I had my early morning cuppa I was thinking about the lovely time we’d had and  it prompted me to write this piece in my Poppy Journal. Here is it:

Wed 3rd July 2013

“The three of us were truly gobsmacked by the intricacy involved in the making of these old quilts. When you consider there was no electric lights until the late 19th century, they are even more amazing. I loved the variety of the hand-stitched quilts on display; some depicting people and events in the 18th/19th centuries and one even used black-out cloth from World War II to form the backing of the 1946 quilt.

Then there was the rather satirical quilt which was a cover depicting the A-Z of Love (1875-1885). Oh, it was funny with its pictures of love; complete with words sewn in squares on the quilt. One interesting title came under the letter ‘U’ which stood for ‘Uncle’ … so it said. I’m really not sure about the relevance of that title to romance and love though … perhaps they couldn’t come up with anything else? What would YOU put under ‘U’ for instance?”

One quilt of note was stitched by women convicts coming out to Australia on the ship Raja in 1823. It was supposed to keep idle hands busy and stop fighting amongst the prisoners. They were allowed on the top deck each day so they could see clearly to quilt and were taught by a woman of merit who not long after married the captain of the ship!

I felt rather frustrated that I could not take photos as I wanted everyone to see these amazing quilts. However, after some research online I came across a few pictures of the quilts shown on the Quilt Exhibition’s website which satisfied my longing to share a few here on my blog. Read more: www.qagoma.exhibitions/current/quilts_1700-1945

The A-Z of Love quilt

The A-Z of Love quilt

I also came across the A-Z of Love on another website with a picture of part of the quilt on it. Oh, it was all happening folks and I was feeling good about it too. On the site – which is English-  they thought the exhibition’s appeal was much simpler than people wanting ideas for their own handiwork. www.guardian.co.uk/quilt-exhibition

They were of the belief that ‘quilts are comforting, intriguing, intimate and heavy with history. To enjoy them, you don’t have to want to make one.’ I would agree with this thought, although it did bring back some nostalgia for me because I had made two hand sewn patchwork quilts many years ago.

And as my Poppy Journal is all about learning lessons from life,  I will leave you with this one I learned from the ‘Quilts 1700–1945’  Exhibition:

So … what lessons can one learn from seeing these quilts? They certainly showed an era when women (and even men according to the exhibition!) were far more industrious in their leisure time than they are today. Society was slower and time was not as precious as it is now; women were all expected to be able to sew and they did – at every opportunity.

As a result we have a lasting memento to life as it was lived in earlier centuries. What legacy will OUR generation of women leave behind I wonder? In our throw-away society, there is very little handicrafts that we produce. Possibly, we need to be aware of this and find something tangible that we can leave behind, not just for our own families but for future generations to admire. 

The figures depicted on this quilt were amazing

The figures depicted on this quilt were amazing

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