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War and Pieced: The Annette Gero Collection of Quilts from Military Fabrics

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A must-see for all quilt and textile lovers
Britain, A soldier's patchwork with incredible border (Crimean War), c. 1855, England, felted wools taken from uniforms of the 37th Foot Regiment, all hand-sewn, beadwork, textural layered appliquéd border, 208 x 216cm

Following the success of the blockbuster 2017 exhibition Wartime Quilts in New York comes the Adelaide premiere of its successor War and Pieced: The Annette Gero Collection of Quilts from Military Fabrics - now showing at The David Roche Foundation House Museum until 19 December 2020.

War and Pieced brings the art form of 'military intarsia' back to vivid life with 25 breathtaking examples spanning from the Napoleonic Wars through the Crimean War of the mid-19th century to the late 19th century British colonial wars in India and southern Africa.

'Military intarsia' quilting is an art form that was widely practised in British and European countries by wounded soldiers, prisoners of war and regimental tailors, who repurposed discarded military and dress uniforms to construct spellbinding patchwork mosaics with the most intricate and beautiful geometric and pictorial patterns, often reflecting life in a village or a political event.

Prussia, Intarsia with Soldiers, 1760–1780, Prussia, wool, probably from uniforms, all hand sewn, intarsia, 140 x 110cm

Often each piece of fabric was cut to no more than a couple of centimetres in size and then skilfully sewn from the back to create a perfectly smooth surface to the quilt. Some of these quilts contain as many as 25,000 pieces of fabric.

These quilts demonstrate not only the remarkable skill of the makers but also reflect the preoccupations of these ordinary soldiers as they served in wartime – some declaring their patriotism with images of flags, coats-of-arms or embroidered portraits of monarchs, others more personally focussed with dedications to family or pastoral vignettes. These quilts stand as a testament that beauty can still be derived from the most terrible of circumstances.

Dr Annette Gero, one of Australia's leading quilt historians, has been documenting and collecting quilts since 1982. She has travelled all over Australia giving lectures, curating exhibitions of Australian quilts and documenting quilts in private homes and public collections. She gained her PhD in 1982. In 1986 she was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society for Arts (London) in recognition of her work on Australian quilt history.

Her book Wartime Quilts, Appliqués and geometric quilts made from Military Fabrics, which serves as the catalogue for the exhibition, was reviewed by the New York Times as one of the 10 best Art and Design books of 2017.

Britain or southern Africa, Zulu War army quilt, late 19th century, England or southern Africa, woollen uniform fabric, all hand-sewn, pinked cut-out fringed edge, embroidery, 223 x 88cm

War and Pieced is a must-see for all Adelaide quilt and textile lovers. Featuring 25 stunning examples of appliqué and geometric quilts made from richly coloured wools by soldiers, sailors and regimental tailors, the War and Pieced exhibition revives this precious heritage, literally piecing family stories and history back together.

No bookings are required to see War and Pieced. The David Roche Foundation House Museum is open to the public Tuesday to Saturday 10AM - 4PM. Limited Parking Available Onsite.

The entry fee is $10 adult, $8 concession and children under 12 receive free admission.

Plan your visit today at www.rochefoundation.com.au/exhibitions/war-and-pieced-the-annette-gero-collection-of-quilts-and-military-fabrics


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When: 10 September - 19 December 2020. Tuesday - Saturday. 10am to 4pm.
Phone: +61 8 8267 3677
Where: The David Roche Foundation, 241 Melbourne Street, North Adelaide
Cost: $10 adult. $8 concession. Children under 12 free.
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