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It's been a pretty busy weekend for me so far. I think I get to relax a bit now.

Yesterday morning, the bike bridge/path between Kooringal Drive and Mt Ommaney Drive was officially opened. We walked over there and arrived too late for the free sausages but did get a free coffee (James) and hot chocolate (me), stared in amazement at all the people, got some bike maps, talked to Ben and Bill from Bicycle Queensland, and of course walked on and admired the bridge itself.

It has turned out to be an expensive affair, it's the longest single-span aluminium bridge in Australia, but the upside of that is that the creek, the sides of the creek, and the vegetation along the creek has been left alone. In fact, the bridge is a good up-in-the-trees vantage point if you're a bird watcher.

Then in the afternoon, Annette and I headed to Ipswich for the official opening of The Fabric of Society: Australia's Quilt Heritages. Annette had got an invitation because a quilt made by her great-aunt is in the show. Annette Gero gave an interesting talk about Australian quilt history - quilts were made by convicts on the ships heading to Australia, and there's two quilts now suspected of being from that era. Australia also has a number of other very old quilts because govenor's wives brought out family pieces, and later migrants similarly took quilts with them, which they then kept particularly good care of as their old-world heritage.

A number of the quilts are from Australia's prosperous colonial period - the fashionable crazy quilts made of velvets and silks, decorated with intricate embroidery (I had no idea variagated embroidery thread was available in the 1880s, but that's what a lot of the quilts from that era seem to be using), log cabins in rich silks, and a grandmother's flower garden where the hexagons are penny-sized, fussy-cut around tiny flowers printed on the fabric, and the entire quilt - single-bed sized - awe-inspiring in the amount of different fabrics and sewing time required.

But the truly Australian quilt form is probably the Wagga (including Annette's great-aunt's quilt). These were originally made from used flour sacs, wadded with newspaper, as blankets by people who literally could not afford better blankets. They came to be made of the good parts of worn-out suits, and tailor's fabric samples. Annette's great-aunt worked as a tailor, so had ready access to the fabrics - I suspect some parts of her quilts were offcuts from re-fitted suits. One quilt in the exhibition was made from furnishing fabric samples.

Australia went through a depression in the 1890s, then there was World War I, the great depression, WWII. A lot of people were struggling to get by, for quite a long time. And because these were hard-times quilts, and Australians don't understand how their quilt heritage differs from the more famous American quilt heritage, these quilts are mostly still in the possession of the families in which they were made, and so come with a lot of family history. Annette could share her memories of how this quilt would come out when she (or one of her brothers) was sick, and now it's on a gallery wall.

The Wagga seems to have been made by both women and men, based on need, and Australian men have their own quilt genre - the decorated army blanket. Dr Gero showed pictures of the most astounding example of the genre, by C.A. Gatenby, a soldier who was a prisoner-of-war of the Germans during WWII. He embroidered the blanket with scenes of places he'd served, the prison camp both in summer and winter, maps of Australia and various Australian animals. It now finally hangs in the Australian War Memorial, as it deserves. But in the exhibition was a somewhat more quilt-like example, where a soldier had covered his blanket with his unit's patches - all the leftovers that hadn't been used at the end of the war.

This morning I went to bushcare at Jindalee Creek, riding my bike over the new bridge of course! I thought I was going to get a blister from shovelling mulch, but I got a blister pulling out weeds instead. When I'd finally worked across the bottom of my patch (Rod: "I hope you don't mind, I'm thinking of that (gesturing) as your patch" Me: "I was working on the same assumption" - I've been down there pulling out weeds every time I've been there, only three times so far admittedly, but the pattern is well-established now) and stood up, I discovered my entire front, down past my knees, was soaked in sweat. I think I worked enough.

I still have some bananas to turn into banana bread and some meat into curry. That'll be enough weekend for me.

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ingrid: photo of me (Default)
Ingrid Jakobsen

July 2011

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