Level 3, Temporary Exhibitions
Making the Australian Quilt: 1800–1950 is the first major exhibition of its kind to bring together the rich works that constitute Australia’s quilt heritage. Exclusive to Melbourne, the exhibition includes more than eighty works from around the country. Key works such as The Rajah Quilt and examples by renowned makers Mary Jane Hannaford, Marianne Gibson and Amelia Brown are shown alongside a number of recently discovered pieces not exhibited before. They include quilts, coverlets, garments and quilted, patched and pieced works made in Australia or with a significant Australian provenance. The exhibition also features key 19th century English quilts that were brought or sent to Australia, informing and influencing the early quilting practices of local makers.
With works drawn from public and private collections throughout Australia, visitors to this unprecedented exhibition have a rare opportunity to experience the aesthetic impact, technical skill and powerful storytelling capacity of this fascinating art form. The material used in the creation of the work is diverse and telling of the creative resourcefulness of their makers. Taffeta, velvet, furnishing fabric, dressmaking scraps, flour bags, possum skins, suiting samples and flannelette have each been transformed by the act of cutting, layering, piecing and stitching.
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.
The exhibition is accompanied by a full colour catalogue co-curated by renowned quilt historian and collector Dr Annette Gero and Katie Somerville, Senior Curator Fashion and Textiles, NGV. Multimedia is used within the exhibition space to provide a better understanding of the process of quilt making and the stories behind the works on display.
A special symposium on Saturday 23 July exploring Australian quilt making leads the extensive range of public programs offered for Making the Australian Quilt. Other programs include talks, practical workshops and creative activities that allow a deeper exploration of the art, history and heritage of quilting in Australia.
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