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“Quilts 1700 – 1945” Exhibition

The quilt community in Australia is a buzz at the moment, especially those living on the eastern seaboard. We are being treated to a one-off quilt exhibition of the most amazing proportions. The Exhibition is called “Quilts 1700 – 1945” and comes from one of the world’s most significant collections of textiles and decorative arts – the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Brisbane, Queensland is the only stop for this exhibition, and word has it that there are many, many quilters making their way across the country and indeed across the world to see this most outstanding array of quilts that have been made from 1700 to 1945.


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I am very lucky to live in Brisbane and I’ve attended the exhibition four times so far, and intend on seeing it again and again until it closes at the end of September. The quilts are truly amazing and I predict that the next couple of state quilt shows will have “like” quilts exhibited.

There’s a strong influence of English paper pieced quilts, and the workmanship and artistry is simply hard to comprehend. The exquisite stitching is so fine – one really wonders how these quilters managed in cramped and poorly lit homes and residences.


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There are 30 quilts in all, and each one has a marvellous story to tell. Every time I’ve gone to see the quilts, I’ve come away with something else that has intrigued me or stunned my senses. Without the use of all the modern day tools and equipment these quilters have made stunning creations that seem to be lasting forever. It makes one wonder if we really need all the clutter that goes with modern day quilting.


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A big bonus is the inclusion of Australia’s most known and loved antique quilt – the Rajah Quilt. This quilt and the story behind it has intrigue me since I first became interested in piecing patches of fabric together and to see it in the “flesh” so to speak is unbelievable. (See the link to my article on the Rajah Quilt below).




To accompany this exhibition, the Queensland Art Gallery has also presented a small exhibition of a local quilter – Ruth Stoneley. Ruth commenced quilting later in her life but probably achieved far more and made many more quilts that someone who might have started in their teens.

I knew Ruth, not terribly well, but we enjoyed a few laughs together from time to time. Her quilts are really something – and it’s a great pleasure to be able to wander around the gallery viewing your way through her quilting journey and it’s very different stages.



Ruth was very gutsy, and not afraid to quilt outside the bounds of the norm. I can remember people saying that her quilts were too way out, yet now I see them and they look like they fit very well into the character of 2013 style quilts. A girl ahead of her time was Ruth.

Ruth was great friends with Crazy Quilter Judith Baker Montano. Judith has devoted part of her website to a lovely memorial for Ruth.
Judith Baker Montano Website tribute to Ruth Stoneley








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