There is a lot of chatter around the changing nature of blogging. Apparently now blogs are used to make money, sell online course and build a brand. Comments no longer happen and the idea of ‘community’ is a thing of the past. Well, I think my last post showed how wrong that is.
I asked a question about upgrading WordPress. As it turns out I was quite confused, but so many of you responded, giving me advice and support. And I love that, I love the community that surrounds me here, I love our ‘old fashioned’ blogging world. Thank you.
The next part of the post is of an exhibition I went to today, Making the Australian Quilt: 1800 to 1950. It is at the NGV in Melbourne and won’t be travelling. I want to share it because I know there are members of this fantastic community who are wonderful quilters and won’t get the chance to see it. I was thinking of you as I wandered through the exhibition.
Many of the pieces were created within an intimate, private setting, yet have the ability to convey much more of their broader social and historical significance. The exhibition encompasses quilts made by men and women, those made within the context of leisure and accomplishment, created as expressions of love and family connection and those stitched out of necessity in an environment of constraint and hardship. (from the NGV website)
The timeframe tells you that the quilts ranged from those sewn in England and bought out to Australia by the early settlers through to those created in Australia until after WW2. One, the Rajah Quilt was created by women on the convict ship The Rajah. They had been taught sewing skill by the Quaker prison reformer, Elizabeth Fry and given the materials to make the quilt on board. The quilt was given to Lady Jane Franklin wife of the John Franklin, the Lieutenant-Governor of Tasmania.
Another was created by Corporal Clifford Gatenby, a POW in a German prison camp during WW2. He sewed images into his army blanket with pieces of wool and cotton taken from discarded garments in the camp, and used needles fashioned from the frames of eyeglasses and ground-down toothbrushes. It took him two and a half years to complete. When he escaped in 1945 he took the quilt with him, saying that it represented too much hard work to leave behind!
This next photo shows a detail of a hexagonal quilt made from hexagons that were only one centimetre in diameter!
As we know sewing was something that was done in the domestic sphere and therefore often went unrecognised as art. But so many of the quilts showed that their creators were as confident colourists as many painters. Look at the beautiful, subtle use of colour in this one.
And all of this done by hand sewing. Most of the time you couldn’t see the stitches, but this photo shows how fine the stitches were.
My sister and I were intrigued by what the reverse sides of the quilts would look like, and kept trying to peer behind the hanging works. We were delighted to see this quilt, showing the other side. This was obvious a work in progress, because the paper supports were still sewn into the quilt. The quilter used whatever came to hand ~ newspapers, book pages and even children’s pages of handwriting practice. My sister, ever the researcher, was trying to read the tiny print!
These two show great use of colour:
Many of the ones below were created with satins and ribbon.
Later in the 1800s there crazy patchwork was fashionable and allowed the women to be much more expressive.
The last part of the exhibition displayed waggas. I didn’t know what they were either. A wagga is a quilt that is made from found and reused materials, making do when resources are scarce. They were often made from samples and swatches of materials, such as men’s suiting. They were common in regional Australia in the first half of the 20th century, during the two world wars and the Depression when other material was scarce. Apparently they were often backed with hession sugar bags and layered for warmth.
So, a tantalising thank you to my quilting friends.