Monday, 2 February 2009

2008 Quilt Study Group Seminar by Karen Fail

Bayeux Tapestry Repro, Pam Holland







Reflections on Sharing Our Legacy – the 2008 Quilt Study Group of Australia Seminar
By Karen Fail

I make it a practice to attend the QSGA Seminar wherever it is being held because I know from experience that these are not to be missed! So, along with several other visitors from interstate including fellow New South Welshmen, we arrived in Brisbane to the usual ‘beautiful one day, perfect the next’ weather. Some of the girls had arrived much earlier and arranged to visit several of the quilt shops in Brisbane on Friday. Dinner on Friday night was held outdoors under a balmy night skies and provided a great opportunity to renew friendships and meet new likeminded quilters.

When I arrived for the first session on Saturday, I was welcomed by Gail Chalker who was sitting at the desk with her hat on. I thought she was dressed very formally and wondered if I was underdressed until she took the podium as the first speaker. Her topic was the Rosewood Redwork Quilt and she was dressed in the fashion of the day complete with corset. Now that’s dedication! And we were all thrilled to learn of the Queensland groups’ reproduction of this important quilt discovery. One of the original embroiderers was present – I am sure she never expected that her small square made when she was 7 would have caused such a fuss nearly 80 years later.

Dr. Gero, the patron of the Quilt Study Group of Australia, enthralled us with her talk on Gold Rush Quilts as we were transported back to those times when women had few resources but still managed to make beautiful things. But it was Karen Barrett’s delivery of The Quilting Legacy of Ruth and Denise that quietened the room as we heard about these two well-known Brisbane quilters, now deceased, whose legacy lives on through all those whom they encouraged and taught to love quilts. Thanks so much Karen for your sensitive presentation.

We can always rely on Margaret Rolfe from the Canberra Quilt Study Group to deliver a well-researched paper and this year’s seminar was no exception. She took us on the journey she herself had taken in her presentation ‘The Rajah Quilt – Developments and Descendents. She discovered much that was new about this iconic quilt made by convict women on the Rajah bound for Australia, but the mystery of why it was back in Scotland when found and bought for the National Gallery remains unsolved. Margaret’s research continues.

Michael Marendy is a good friend of the Queensland Quilt Study Group and gave an excellent presentation on Conservation of Quilts. He had many samples of his own team’s work, which were available for close inspection, and gave us all invaluable information regarding conservation of quilts of national importance and our own more modest collections.
He was, however, nearly escorted from the building when he confessed to vacuuming twice a week to preserve his own textiles from accumulating dust.

Margie Creek delighted us with A Family’s Legacy of Quilts – quilts from her grandmother, mother and of course her own. We were all just a little envious of her and wished our mothers had been diligent quilters too.

Many of you will know that Pam Holland is recreating the Bayeux Tapesty. She agreed to share her progress with us at the seminar, generously stopping over in Brisbane on her way to USA for a frenetic teaching schedule. Her presentation to say the least was awe-inspiring using the digital features of her computer to the max. We learned about her journeys around the historic areas depicted on the Bayeux Tapestry and were thrilled to see two finished panels of her work. This was the last time that the work will be seen until all the panels are complete. We are indebted to Pam for her generosity in sharing with us.

The day finished with the usual dinner and auction but was made memorable by Patty McCormack of How to Make an American Quilt fame delivering a speech on how to be a true blue Aussie resplendent in Aussie flag boxer shorts and a cork hat – in fact every item of clothing she had on was in some way Aussie flavoured. She laid us in the aisles.!

Dinner was great, the auction raised around $1000 for the Queensland Women’s Historical Association and we made many new friends. Thanks Queensland Quilt Study Group.

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