The Australasian Quilt Convention (AQC) is held annually at the Royal Exhibition Building, Carlton Gardens in Melbourne. The Australasian Quilt Convention is Australia’s largest event dedicated specifically to quilting and throughout the event there is a program of classes conducted by international and national teachers of this ever popular arts and crafts form.
Every stitch tells a story and a quilt is traditionally a sewn blanket made up pieced together from scraps of fabric in a patchwork pattern joined either by needle and thread or ties to make a useful basis for a new beginning. It provides warmth and cosiness, giving people comfort and bonding them together in times of tribulation by providing a forum wherein they could enjoy being part of circle of conversation that buoyed up their spirits and kept them going and sewing.
This year it will feature a showing of some aspects of Dr Annette Gero’s Wartime Quilt Collection. Made by men during wartime from 1800 – 1940, the quilts were created from fabrics to hand, including military uniforms. They have all been hand sewn with fragments as small as 1cm square in a diverse range of geometric and pictorial designs and are very engaging. Each day at 1:30 at the Quilt Convention Dr Gero will give a free talk.
An independent curator, her passion for the stories behind her Wartime Quilt Collection and their origins is well documented in the Archives of the National Library of Australia, Canberra where her collection is described an “Australian national treasure.” Dr Gero has also completed a book about the collection, which has over 100 quilts with full page photos
Although the book is a serious documentation of the quilts, which represent wars over the past 200 years, the colors and the designs are quite extraordinary and although they are so old, the patterns are an inspiration for the modern quilter.
As a leading historian and knowledgeable collector since 1982 Dr Gero has amassed a simply extraordinary ‘threads of our society’ collection, including a significant number of early Australian Quilts made by those journeying to a new land.
Making Quilts helped both women and men in wartime as they brought ‘… some semblance of beauty and humanity to the blighted world of the combat zone… the cloth, heavy woollen serge or worsted twill, was difficult work with, and as far as we know these army quilts were always made by men” Dr Gero noted.
The amount of patience required to complete the hundreds perhaps thousands of hours that produced the Wartime Quilts is hard to come to terms with under contemporary conditions. Making them under such duress helped to relieve stress during extensive periods of waiting for battles to begin.
At the AQC in Melbourne you will be uplifted and inspired by the amazing selection of high quality hand-picked quilts, including traditional and contemporary, modern and art styles, as well as Dr Gero’s Wartime Quilt Collection 14 – 17 April, 10am to 4:30 pm daily, Royal Exhibition Building, Carlton Gardens, Melbourne | Buy Tickets