Monday, 10 May 2010

The Rajah Quilt

The Rajah Quilt is truly part of Australia's heritage
and one of the most important early textiles of this country.
The Rajah was a ship who began her 105 day voyage from England to Hobart Town on 5th April 1841 carrying 179 female convicts.  The women were provided with needles, thread and patchwork pieces by the British Ladies' Society for Promoting the Reformation of Female Prisoners, established in 1816 by the Quaker Elizabeth Fry. 

The Rajah landed in Hobart on 19th July 1841 and during her voyage, these female convicts, most of whom had never held a needle before, had turned their fabric and thread into this inscribed patchwork, embroidered and applique coverlet.  The coverlet was presented to the Governor's wife, Lady Jane Franklin, as evidence of the women's industry.  The quilt has 2815 peices and the inscription if finely worked in silk yarn.
The Rajah Quilt is currently held by the National Gallery of Australia and is the only known surviving convict shipboard quilt.  It is not on view very often, so when it is, quiltmakers and the general public flock to see it.

Organizers of the AQC, Expertise Events, conduct the Rajah Award acknowledging an outstanding contribution by an individual to quilting in Australia; announced at the Gala Dinner of the AQC each year.  It is indeed one of the highest accolades for any quilter to be nominated, let alone win.  The inaugural winner was Narelle Grieve who sadly passed away last year and a moment's silence was made in her memory at this year's AQC Gala Dinner.  The Rajah Award for 2010 was won by Cynthia Harvey Baker from W.A. for her work in many aspects of our industry.

Marlene King of Tasmania won the National Quilt Award for her quilt "Travels" depicting her travels in the form of a photo film.  These are some photos I took when I saw it on display at last year's Hobart Craft & Quilt Fair.  A truly deserved win.  Congratulations Marlene.

Make every effort to attend the 2011 AQC and you'll want to go every year.  The entrance was queued for a very long way each morning.  Every now and then, someone masked with this black eye mask kept popping up and you never knew quite where or by whom.  Don't know who this Exhibitor was hiding behind Austin Powers who entertained all the visitors each day?
An aerial view of our stand before the show was open, hence no visitors on the floor, just a few delegates who were permitted to show before opening time for their daily class needs.

Each day at our stand, we had the pleasure of viewing Helen Godden's quilt "Mother Earth" since it was on display at the Husqvarna stand immediately opposite us. Helen has won numerous international awards for her art quilts and she is indeed one of Australia's finest quilters.  Helen explained that "Mother Earth" was black fabric which she bleached with a brush technique until she had the desired light and shade effects she needed.  Then she free-motion stitched the detail in.  Quite incredible.  So very different and indeed a masterpiece.  Enjoy the close-ups showing the detail.

So, girls and boys, SEE YOU THERE NEXT YEAR!!!


  1. Thanks so much for giving me a look at the quilt show!!

  2. Oh Yvonne, you're most welcome. You must go to see for yourself as many times as possible though too. Judy

  3. A picture of a film reel quilt led me here but no quilt. I would love a pattern