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Saturday, July 20, 2013

Quilts 1700-1945 Exhibition at the Queensland art Gallery...

Last Thursday, 2 friends and I went to see this magnificent exhibition right here in Brisbane.



Most of the quilts are from the famous Victoria and Albert Museum in London. We first of all took a guided tour...this is a good way to get lots of background information about the items on display, but...yes, there is a but! The gallery was quite noisy with the hum of people chattering in the background and it was very difficult to hear the guide...but what we did hear was very informative about certain items...there was no way the guide could discuss every quilt. For example, we were told that when some of the quilts were x-rayed, it was discovered that there was another quilt underneath.
I think it would be difficult to blog about every quilt so I'll just talk about the ones that 'really spoke to me'....

There were amazing whole cloth quilts, pieced quilt tops with designs still popular today and there were some wonderful hexagon quilts too! My favourite quilt would have been the 'Brayley' Hexagon Quilt...its colours were so bright and the hexies so small...about the size of my thumbnail! No photography allowed of course but I found this photo on the V&A Museum website...this quilt was dated 1864-77 and is believed to have been made by Francis Brayley as rehabilitation therapy whilst serving in India...it is made of woollen fabrics used for military uniforms...

V&A collection No. T.58-2007
Another hexie quilt I loved was one made with scrap fabrics and then the background hexagons were made from blackout curtains that were no longer needed when WW2 ended...

Yet another hexie quilt was the one made by young girls, whilst prisoners of the Japanese in Changi after the fall of Singapore. This quilt was made under unimaginably difficult conditions...how poignant to see how the girls embroidered their names on this quilt. While looking online to find a photo of this quilt, I found a V&A video instead. In this footage, Olga Henderson, a former child prisoner tells of her life in the prison and how the quilt project came about...well worth a look! Needless to say I stood in front of this quilt just looking...a number of times on our visit.

One of the quilts wasn't from the Victoria and Albert Museum...it was on loan from the National Gallery of Australia (Canberra) and it is the Rajah quilt which was made by female convicts on board the HMS Rajah. This quilt is huge and for more information go here. It is well worth reading :-)

I bought some postcards of quilts that were on display. There was only a small selection of postcards...

T. 200-1969 Stitching little vignette blocks depicting everyday life were popular...applique and embroidery were used

This cot quilt was the oldest in the exhibition... the late 1600s
The photo below shows 'bed hangings' 1700-30. It looks like the curtains are made from a single piece of fabric...but it is made of clamshell (shaped) pieces of fabric...it is amazing and very beautiful in real life. A bit of trivia that the guide told us was that in those days, guests were often received in the bedroom (bed chamber) and so wealthy people had really smart furnishings to impress guests.
 No. 242-F-1908 This was another exhibit that I kept returning to,to 'drool'  admire! lol


 The 'drunkard's path' quilt below was hung so that we could see sections of the back of it...it had been stitched over papers and these had been left in...most of the precious paper had been household accounts which had been cut up. We were told that paper in those days was very expensive.
This is one of those fabrics especially printed to commemorate a momentous event/person, in this case, the Duke of Wellington . (made by Elisabeth Chapman 1829, in memory of her husband)
For those interested, the V&A website offers lots of information and insight into their magnificent collections including all the work on conservation of incredibly old quilts...

My friends and I stopped for lunch just a bit reluctantly...but it was time to have a sit down for a while! lol

Pamela and Cheryl

Cheryl and I :-)


Cheryl and I had croque monsieur for lunch... (it's a cheese and prosciutto toasted sandwich!) 
 Pamela chose the dainty finger sandwiches...our lunches were delicious!


After lunch we went to another exhibition hall at the gallery to see the exhibition of the late Ruth Stoneley's works, 'A Stitch in Time'. The works of Ruth on display ranged from her earlier, more traditional styles and then examples of how her work evolved to the dynamic style and flair so associated with her. Last Thursday was rather special because at 2.30 there was a public talk scheduled with the speaker being Adam Stoneley, one of Ruth's sons. He spoke about his mother at length, including what it was like living in a house where quilt blocks would be laid over so much of the horizontal surfaces and his memories of helping in his mum's shop after school. And then people in the audience were invited to ask Adam questions about his mother...and many took that opportunity too!

Adam with Bree Richards, Assistant Curator, Contemporary Australian Art
 After Adam's talk we had yet another look at the 1700-1945 quilts and then decided at 4pm, to call it a day. And what a day it had been... a wonderful exhibition...so much social, cultural and (even) economic history encapsulated in one exhibition!

6 comments:

duchess_declutter said...

Thanks for all your detailed info Maria, it really looks like a good day out. cheers Wendy

shez said...

sounds very interesting Maria,thankyou for sharing.xx

Dorothy said...

Some lovely quilts there ... sounds like you had a very enjoyable day. xox

Marilyn said...

The 3 hexie quilts you mentioned stood out for me also. It is a wonderful exhibition well worth seeing. I went before the Ruth Stoneley one had started, but think I will go again before it finishes to see hers.

Susan said...

What a great round up Maria - I feel I should do some reading up before I get to the "big" exhibition as I've been calling it..

Vireya said...

Fantastic. I have been wondering for a while how I can manage to get to Brisbane to see the exhibition. Thanks for the review of it.