During the school holidays, I took my kids and Mum to see a quilt show – as you do when you’re the Crafty Mummy! I read months ago that there was to be a display of Quilts from 1700 to 1945 coming to the Queensland Art Gallery from the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, so I had carefully written the dates in the calendar. Mr Happy (aged 7) wasn’t so sure that he wanted to look at quilts – anywhere, anytime! – but I bribed him with promises of cool kid stuff at the GOMA so off we went.
I could easily have spent all day looking and listening and reading. Seriously. All day. There was so much information available.
Each display had a scannable QR code which brought up information to listen to on your smartphone about the quilt so you could go around at any time and learn. But we also joined a tour group with the lovely Claire who told us lots of stories behind the quilts and the show itself. It was the little stories that I found fascinating. This is something I have always loved about quilts: the stories that they tell years after the quiltmaker has finished stitching.
This quilt was my favourite. The picture really doesn’t do it justice – it is gorgeous. It was made by a man, a rare thing in those days when women were the quilters, around 1863 -77. He was soldier recovering in hospital and the fabric was from military uniforms. Even now 150 years later the colours are beautifully bright. The thing that I love most about his quilt? Those tiny spots of colour are all tiny hexagons about the size of the tip of my thumb! Imagine how many hours upon hours it must have taken to cut and then hand stitch all of them!?! Incredible!
This lovely yellow quilt may have been my second favourite. I think I lean towards geometric designs. This is the Sanderson Star Quilt from 1910-20. It is the intricate quilting on this one that is so eye-catching. There are such perfect tiny stitches and gorgeous designs in each section of the quilt.
This and many of the others were in fabulous condition considering their age. But even the marks and damage told stories about the quilts. We heard about how the dark marks on one quilt were thought to be from where the owner’s husband sat to take off his boots every night. On another quilt we saw rusty coloured marks which apparently were blood from the quilter pricking their fingers as they worked on it.
This quilt was the star of the show and again the picture does not show you how amazing it is. This is the Rajah quilt and it was displayed in climate control behind glass. Apparently this quilt is generally only allowed to be on display for one month each year to help preserve it. This display will be for 3 months so we were told it will then be stored in the dark for 2 years after this. I had not realised how much trouble goes into preserving these beauties. This quilt was sewn on a convict ship bound for Australia in 1841 One of the ladies travelling on the ship arranged for all the fabrics and equipment to be brought along to keep the female convicts busy during the trip. What a generous lady!
If you’d like to check out the Quilts 1700-1945 display, you will find it at the Queensland Art Gallery in Brisbane’s Southbank precinct. The display is open until 22 September and it was well worth the time. There were 4 tours the day we were there which are included in the price of your ticket. Just look for the tour guide at the front desk at the listed times for the tours. If you’re a book girl like me, there is a gorgeous book available to take home with you from the gallery shop.
If you’re taking kids with you, my tip would be to include a side trip in to the museum or the GOMA. We played video games in the Kangaroo Crew display at the GOMA and saw the Collectomania exhibition in the Queensland Museum.Disclosure: I must say thank you to the Laura and the QAGOMA for the entry tickets to see the Quilts display. These were gifted to me.