Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Quilt Documentation for the Powerhouse Museum talk this Saturday

Join the Quilt Study Group of NSW at 2pm on Saturday 7th May 2011 at Burwood RSL as the committee members reveal the results of their research into quilts held by the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney. 

The quilt catalogue was in need of an upgrade and the committee of the QSG of NSW was invited by Christina Sumner to begin the lengthy process of reviewing it for the Museum. Four members of the committee, Dr Annette Gero, Liz Bonner, Sandra Lyons, and Karen Fail selected a quilt each to review and have been lucky enough to see the quilts, photograph sections of them and with further research, review and if necessary add to the existing documentation held by the PH about the history of the quilts and quilt makers.  Once completed, the new information will become available online.

A new form was designed for the purpose and we have been reviewing and adding to the catalogue for three months. This process has taken longer than expected as in some cases, the quilts were not known to us and we needed to see them. Of great interest to us and the Powerhouse Museum are the three North Country quilts (A8645, 85/1274, 85/1275) made by the same women, Hannah Reed, who Liz Bonner is researching. The donor, Hannah’s granddaughter, had provided many family records and photographs but none of this information had been collated and recorded in the quilt catalogue. Liz will be sharing her findings at the meeting on Saturday.

The PH quilt collection, while not huge, is representative of quilt history in Australia and included in the collection are several contemporary quilts including a triptych by Barbara Macey (2001/13/1) along with her 'suitcase' quilt, which was included in the Quilts Covering Australia travelling exhibition which was part of the 1988 Bicentenary Celebrations. Karen Fail has been researching Barbara and her quilts and will share the work of this outstanding and very influential Australian quilt maker.

One of Dr. Annette Gero's specialities is Army Quilts and she is currently studying the example at the PH (98/48/1), which is supposed to have been made in Tasmania around 1870 from war army uniforms from the British 90th Regiment of Foot, and will share her findings. While Sandra Lyons has looked at an amazing wool quilt (96/393/1) called ‘Goodnight, Sleep Tight’ made by Canberra quilt maker, Jocelyn Cambell.

It has been an exciting journey working Christina Sumner and learning how to correctly 'curate' items for the PH. They in turn are delighted to train us and to have us add our expertise to the information already available.

We are hoping to introduce you to this process of cataloguing and researching quilts in a way that is acceptable to museums and other institutions. So in the programme on Saturday, you will have a chance to look at the paperwork that we are using, and see how it is done. This initial training may lead to further training as other opportunities for assisting institutions and their quilt catalogues arise.

If you want to research any quilts in the Powerhouse Museums collection, their database is online at -

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