The artistry of quilts

If you believe some, they were different climates, they were different times and they definately different morals.

For when Mary Jane Hannaford (right) was in her rocking chair taking on quilting for the first times in her 80’s, in the infant 1900s, churches were full of devotees.

However, she had no idea whatsoever about where her quilts would end up.

Most quilters these days quilt for their families, relations and grandkids.

Other stack them away in a cupboard only to eventually become throwaways in the deceased' estate.

Mary Jane' had a different ending.

Today, the Blandford resident has five of her quits in the National Gallery in Canberra.

Thankfully, someone donated them and the curator had the sense to realise their historical importance.

Radically different in their composition and materials, the quilts are highly religious reflecting a time when Christianity was followed not Climate Change.

Mary lived on the lucerne flats which are today alongside the Blandford School on the Murrurundi side of the schoolyard.

They were known as the Norvill paddocks and stretched down from the base of the hills of Blandford to the Pages River on the other side of the valley.

The New England Highway now dissects but in Mary’s day, the road curved past the school, forded the river and went on out to Timor, Nundle and Tamworth.

If you wanted to go to Murrurundi you went along the stock route which edges the valley.

Mary was born in Devonshire England on March 27 1840 and with her shepherd parents migrated to Australia in 1842.

Her dad got a job with the Australian Agricultural Company whose leases took up a sizeable parcel over the range on the Liverpool Plains surrounding Willowtree and Quirindi.

After his death her mother remarried and they moved to Blandford where she and her brother ran the farm after the death of her mother.

Mary died on June 1, 1930 and is buried in the Murrurundi Cemetery.

Her quits had morally uplifting poems in-sewn and images reflecting her upbringing.

Very different from today's quilts which are shown above in our exhibition recently titled 2022 Patches on the Page and in the main are variations of patches embracing colour and the sower' artistry.


 Name: Sewing history

 Writer: Des Dugan

 Date: 12/06/2022