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If you haven’t had the chance to see this quilt “in the flesh’,  you still have a little time to go into the NGV Federation Square and take a long look.

Early reports suggested that it would only be on display until March but that time has been extended and now the quilt will remain in Gallery 5 until at least the end of April.  There has been no confirmed date for its removal but it is scheduled for “some time in May” according to gallery staff.

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The gallery bookshop has been selling copies of Dr Annette Gero’s new book “The Fabric of Society –  Australian Quilt Heritage from Convict Times to 1960” in which this quilt is profiled.  The gallery bookshop is currently out of stock but have stock on order.  Interestingly not only does the book document our history, it provides patterns for 29 of the quilts.  The book can also be ordered directly from Annette via her website.

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Thursday 26th February will see the return of craft and quilting events to the Royal Exhibition Buildings in Carlton.  This historic building and the surrounding Carlton Gardens are significant in their own right as the complex is included on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

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The Australasian Quilt Convention brings together patchwork and quilting afficionados from all around the country and from overseas for a range of classes, events, exhibitions, demonstrations and of course, the inevitable opportunity to add to the stash!  All the major patchwork and quilting retailers will be represented within the marketplace so even if you haven’t registered for the workshops, you can still come along and see all the latest and best in fabrics, patterns, equipment and accessories.

There are a number of different travelling exhibitions or you to enjoy including “Caravanserai”  by Dijanne Cevaal, ‘Brigitte Giblin –  a Retrospective’ and a wonderful new showing from the tACTile group called ‘Collections’.

The featured artists this year are from Arnhem Land – the women from the Babbarra Women’s Centre will display their indigenous textile art.  This work combines a varitety of textile painting and printing techniques and reflects the distinctive symbols and stories of the people of central Arnhem Land.

For those of you who are interested in working with an embellishing machine, the inaugural world wide Embellisher Textile Challenge conducted by The Thread Studio (WA) will make its first appearance at this event.  This is a fabulous opportunity to see just what marvellous work can be achieved using these great machines.

If you are an interstate visitor, take the time to travel into the city and visit the NGV Federation Square to take a look at the Dickens quilt – It won’t be on display for too much longer!

E Dickens Quilt

E Dickens Quilt

A retrospective exhibition of Rosalie Gascoigne’s work is currently showing in NGV Federation Square. If you are planning to visit the Dickens Quilt in the near future, take the opportunity to walk up to the third level and take in this show.

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Rosalie’s work took many forms: from sculpture, to installation art,  to pieces that were painterly in presentation yet sculptural in construction. She was the ultimate in recycler, in that she scoured the countryside around her home town of Canberra for “waste” – found objects to some of us – and rendered them into superb pieces that vibrate with texture and form.

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Some pieces reminded me strongly of the Russian religious icons – this one a tribute to that iconic Australian institution of the Arnott’s Rosella.  This piece dates to before the subsequent loss of this brand to the multinationals.

This exhibition had me itching to come back to the studio, select appropriate fabrics and the start cutting and twisting and stitching back – and I have just the fabrics to do it with!

This is a “must see” for those of us who lament lack of formal art training – Rosalie was a self taught “artist” who found her feet in her chosen form in her 50’s and produced this remarkable volume of work over little more than 25 years.

Today I took myself into see this beautiful quilt….and it is absolutely beautiful!  It won’t stay that way long if the gallery doesn’t do something about keeping the public back from it though.  In the short time I was there at least two people put their hands on it and another nearly tore the quilt from the wall tripping over the raised platform in front of it.

E Dickens Quilt

E Dickens Quilt

As you can see from this picture (Taken with the ambient light within the gallery as flashes can damage vulnerable fabrics!) the quilt is substantial in size.  On close examination there is little if any wadding left – it is very thin!  It appears to have a binding but in actual fact the edges have been turned under and there is a fine line of quilting right along the edge.

Outer Edge

Outer Edge

The fine edge three stripe fabric is approx 1 & 1/4″ wide and is applied in three sections, the middle section on each side reads orange, gold centre and dark brown stripe to the edge of the quilt as opposed to the two outside stripes as seen below.

RH Lower Corner

RH Lower Corner

As you can see there is even a tiny corner block – and this is broderie perse as are the larger floral blocks in the adjoining rows. The stitching of the broderie perse varies in “expertise” – some of it is so tiny, it is hard to believe it could have been hand stitched and other areas shows a less refined level of skill indicating that the quilt may well have been the work of more than one person.

The wall notes accompanying the quilt state that the broderie perse was executed using chain stitch…..it is clearly buttonhole stitch. (Full text of the wall notes can be found here.)

This quilt is a “must see” for anyone interested in quilting, historic quilts, quilt preservation techniques and old textiles.  It can be found in Gallery 5 Level 2 of the NGV Federation Square (Ian Potter Gallery) Melbourne.

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