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Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art
Maker unknown / Cover or hanging showing alphabet of love and courtship 1875–85 / Wool / Collection: Victoria and Albert Museum, London / © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
14 JUNE 2013

An exhibition of historic British quilts opens at the Queensland Art Gallery (QAG) tomorrow, bringing with it the enthralling social histories and personal stories of more than 200 years of quiltmaking and patchwork.

Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA) Director Chris Saines said ‘Quilts 1700–1945’, from London’s Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) was on display exclusively at QAG until September 22.

‘The exhibition includes more than 35 hand-crafted textiles created to provide comfort and commemorate historical events and family occasions between 1690 and 1945, plus a host of associated material such as pin cushions, needlework tools and sewing baskets,’ Mr Saines said.

‘The works in ‘Quilts’ come primarily from the esteemed collection of the V&A, the world’s leading decorative arts and design museum.

‘Select pieces have travelled from British regional museums and private collections, and there is the special addition of the much-admired Rajah quilt 1841, sewn by convict women during transportation to Van Diemen’s Land, on loan from the National Gallery of Australia.’

Divided into four thematic sections, the exhibition explores the domestic landscape of the wealthy bedrooms of 18th century Britain; the private thoughts and political debates that emerged as patchwork spread to aspirational middle class homes in the early 19th century; the movement of quilts to the public sphere for exhibition and display in Victorian England; and the survival of quiltmaking in economically deprived areas in the face of the emergence of mass production in the early 20th century.

‘The exhibition has been curated for QAG by Sue Prichard, Curator of Contemporary Textiles at the V&A, based on the popular exhibition ‘Quilts 1700–2010: Hidden Histories, Untold Stories’, presented in 2010 at the V&A,’ Mr Saines said.

‘QAGOMA previously partnered with the V&A for ‘Hats: An Anthology by Stephen Jones’ in 2010 at QAG.’

Mr Saines said public programs throughout the duration of the exhibition would bring the fascinating histories of quiltmaking to life for visitors.

During the opening weekend, Saturday June 15 sees a guest lecture by exhibition curator Sue Prichard, and an in-focus session on The Rajah quilt with Dr Robert Bell, the National Gallery of Australia’s Senior Curator of Decorative Arts and Design. Sue Prichard will also appear in conversation with Sally Foster, QAGOMA Assistant Curator of International Art (pre 1975), for an informal tour of the exhibition.

On Sunday June 16, QAG will host the first of four free monthly Sunday Stitch-ups – afternoons of hands-on workshops, talks on contemporary crafting and Suitcase Rummage markets with local designers and vintage enthusiasts. Sunday Stitch-ups will also be held on July 21, August 18 and September 22.

‘Quilts 1700–1945’ is organised by the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. The exhibition is supported by the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art’s Chairman’s Circle of companies as Major Sponsor, and Brisbane Marketing as Tourism Partner.

The exhibition is accompanied by the 196-page publication Quilts 1700–1945, a co-edition from QAGOMA and the V&A.

For more information on the exhibition and accompanying programs, and to purchase tickets, visit

QAGOMA will also present an exhibition of contemporary quilts by celebrated Brisbane quilt-maker, the late Ruth Stoneley (1940–2007), in the Xstrata Coal Queensland Artists’ Gallery at QAG from July 13 to October 7.

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(The Gallery has late opening hours when evening
Australian Cinémathèque screenings are scheduled.)