Queensland Art Gallery's current exhibition, Quilts 1700 - 1945, will appeal to a wider audience that you would first imagine. There is the beautiful history and legacy of such craft, which will lure those with a historical leaning. There is the handmade element, the workmanship and detail, which will appeal to crafters, artisans and makers of any medium. Then there is the element of design - pattern, colour, texture, motifs - which have a universal appeal. Each quilt a practical work of beauty.
As I stopped before each magnificent quilt on loan from the Victoria and Albert Museum, I couldn't help but think that those quilts were like the blogs off their day. A visual expression of ones creative self. A way to document, engage and reflect. An investment of time and patience. The beautiful, hand worked quilts, coverlets and even pincushions reflected the individual makers aesthetic and environment. Coverlet with Sundial for instance, portrays appliqued domestic items and flowers from the makers life. Maps figure in each corner, reflecting her interest in geography. Other quilts included textile panels which celebrated military victories and royal occasions, "revealing an engagement with the world beyond the confines of the domestic domain." While a more recent paper pieced hexagon quilt took three years to create using fabric recycled from old shirts, dresses and black out curtains, in the aftermath of World War II.
"Recycling materials bore witness to a wife's practicality. The paper templates used in patchwork during this period were cut from receipts, shopping lists and ledger books. Patchwork and quilt making also provided an opportunity for women to showcase her skills to family and friends." - from the gallery wall
Any plain fabric and wadding can make a simple, practical quilt. But is takes the makers hand and heart to create a quilt of beauty and meaning. The collecting, designing, cutting, rearranging, stitching, all an art in themselves. Quilts are like blogs. They both fulfill a human need to document and share. Different platforms for a similar need.
The exhibition really resonated with me. I found it to be a rewarding, well curated and enjoyable experience. If you are in Brisbane it's certainly worth a visit.