The Quilt
Friday 23 August 2013 Share FacebookDelicious Email

217_MAGILLelizabeth1930_59_V&A_web_crop_72dpix570pxw Patchwork of suiting fabrics and dress cottons (detail) | Elizabeth Magill (1888–1987), Belfast, Northern Ireland 1930s  | Cotton and wool  | Courtesy of Board of Trustees of National Museums Northern Ireland

There is something about quilts that inspires an emotional and very personal response, and through-out the exhibition ‘Quilts 1700-1945′, you can hear visitors talking about people and objects from their childhoods that have been evoked by the objects on display. The Gallery has also received a significant amount of correspondence in relation to the exhibition and the connections people have found within their own lives.

One piece of correspondence that stood out to us as particularly poignant was a poem sent in by Adelaide poet Elaine Barker. Elaine had heard Curatorial Manager of International Art, Exhibitions and Research, Dr Miranda Wallace talking with Fenella Kernebone on Radio National and was particularly interested to learn that the exhibition included a number of quilts and patchworks made by women working in economically depressed areas of Northern Ireland, North East England and Wales during the early decades of the twentieth century. Prompted by her interest in ‘depression quilts’, Elaine sent us her poem THE QUILT, published in her second collection of poetry The Day Lit By Memory (Ginninderra, 2008), which we felt was worthy of sharing along with some images of the beautiful patchworks on display in ‘Quilts 1700-1945’ that inspired it. Do you have a story to share?

THE QUILT
Gepps Cross Migrant Hostel, 1957

In the hostel once I saw
a quilt of rare beauty 
no shapes ranged
fantastically pied,
no diamond colours vied.
Instead, men’s suiting fashioned
each patchwork square.
The tweed’s drab symmetry
was out of place, you’d say,
in a child’s room
and on a small wooden bed.
But I felt the pull of stiches,
the painstaking making-do 
old habits reclaimed,
made new in an alien land
where light fell through
the window there
in a sunny larrikin spread.

Elaine Barker, 2008

Quilts 1700–1945’ from the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, is on display until 22 September 2013 and is complemented with a range of programs and events. An exhibition publication is available for purchase from the QAGOMA Store or online.

Quilts 1700-1945 Queensland Art Gallery gallery 4 installation view Installation view: Patchwork of suiting fabrics and dress cottons | Elizabeth Magill (1888–1987), Belfast, Northern Ireland 1930s  | Cotton and wool  | Courtesy of Board of Trustees of National Museums Northern Ireland 

Quilts 1700-1945Queensland Art Gallerygallery 4installation viewInstallation view: Pyjama cotton coverlet | Annie O’Hare, Strabane, Northern Ireland 1940s  | Cotton  | Courtesy of Board of Trustees of National Museums Northern Ireland 

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