Browsing in some old photo files this morning I found this group relating to a project in which I was involved and wrote about in a 2009 post. I remember being really thrilled at receiving a large group of images quilter photographer Gloria Currie emailed that week, although I had seen some of them before on paper. This pic shows the letter side of the 36 double-sided quilts, each letter forming part of the entry signage to the Australian touring bicentenary exhibition of 1988. Each quilt was designed and produced in major regional centres around the country, with a designated letter on one side and the reverse side of each depicting something typical of that particular region. It was all wonderfully coordinated by someone or other in Canberra, home of the Bicentennial Authority of the day.
Entrance to Australia’s Bicentinary travelling exhibition of 1988
The main centre of the huge gold mining industry in Western Australia’s Eastern Goldfields is the City of Kalgoorlie Boulder. Gold is still produced there today, even after more than 120 years of continuous gold mining. In such a place the obvious choice for our quilt’s reverse side was something to do with gold and its history there. Members of Goldfingers Embroiderers and the Patchwork Pollies formed a group to carry out the big project, led by quilter Margery Goodall. With a desert landscape colour scheme throughout, our assigned letter was H, for which we chose traditional crazy patchwork, seen here with Margery standing in front. For the other side we settled on a traditional medallion-style design featuring a soft sculpture of the most fabulous gold nuggets ever found in Australia – the legendary Golden Eagle Nugget with yours truly standing in front of that, just the day before we were to leave the Goldfields for USA in 1987.
Margery Goodall and Alison Schwabe in front of the sides of the quilted banner.
I was happy to sign up to do some free machine embroidery depicting landscape, mining buildings and headframes on the surrounding red-brown fabric, which was easy enough for someone with my experience of fme. When it was suggested perhaps I could do a gold nugget for the centre ? I blithely agreed, having no real idea and knew there would be no pattern source. I’m an experienced procrastinator with a finely tuned sense of just when I need to cut it out and get on with it 🙂 So, after weeks of procrastinating and agonising over the folly of offering to make such a thing, and faced then with a fast approaching deadline, I finally got down to experimenting with samples, naturally. I probably had possiblities turning over in my mind for weeks, but once I focused under pressure, the Golden Eagle Nugget took me about a day to figure out and make. I cut the shape from gold lame, toned it down in places with brown paint, layered that with batting and free machine quilted it to give the lumpy surface texture. I then backed that and stuffed between those layers with cushion filler and sewed it up like a little pillow. Phew! I was hugely relieved and just a bit proud of the result. Below the eagle is a little pic of the main street water fountain statue of the prospector Paddy Hannan whose discovery of gold nearby led to one of the most fabulous gold rushes the world has ever seen. What a joy to wander back in time through these photos, enjoying the memories and reminder of the proven value of making samples whenever entering uncharted territory!