Historic Australian Quilts

NGV (National Gallery Victoria) opened an exhibition of historic Australian quilts this past weekend.
There are many glorious quilts on display and sometimes what hides on the back is as fascinating as the front. The above is the reverse of a hexagon quilt, showing the paper that held the fabric ‘square’ (hexagonal?) while the pieces were sewn and the quilt assembled. They tell their own story of the occupants life, and included shopping lists, writing practice and more.

Not every quilt was designed to grace a bed. Some were made for the Victorian parlour table. This one was edge with lovely lace.

Not a great photo but this quilt was like a mosaic, each tiny hexagon perfectly in place. Three of these hexagons added to about the size of a 5 cent coin!

I love that the tacking stitch is visible here, though none of the actual sewing is evident.

If you love cats, this is the quilt for you. The owner/maker loved cats and horses. She had been a dressmaker and the horse below, which was on the same quilt is beautifully decorated.

Each quilt told multiple stories: of the construction, the fabrics available at the time and the skill of the maker. This quilt and more by the same maker told a life story. In the pic above the words under the couple read Ășnhappy honeymoon! But on another part of the quilt an old couple are shown, so perhaps their lives improved?

The Rajah quilt was there too. It’s quite fragile and is hung at 45 deg from vertical and in low light behind glass. Not easy to photograph, but the seat in front of it was full of conversation and a variety of stories about people and their connections to this wonderful quilt.

If you love quilts, history and/or story, you can visit this exhibition at NGV Australia in Fed Square in Melbourne. I’ve been twice already and intend to go again soon.