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Quilt - Women on Farms Gathering, Warragul, 1999 Object Reg. No: HT 13388 1

This quilt celebrates the 10th Women on Farms Gathering held in Warragul in 1999 and was on display for the duration of this Gathering.

The idea for the quilt was initiated by Quentin O'Keefe in May 1998, a new farmer to the area and member of the West Gippsland Women on Farms. The design was inspired by a quilt design sourced by Lyn Johnson, a member of the West Gippsland Women on Farms, who acquired it directly from contacts in the Linn-Benton, Chapter, Oregon Women for Agriculture, USA.

13 quilted and embroidered panels illustrate the many elements of rural life and farming enterprises in West Gippsland region. For example: timber from Powelltown and Narracan, daffodils from Ellinbank, a dairy cow and an Angus cow common in the region, potatoes from Thorpdale, wine from Warragul, apples and pears from Cora Lynn, and a grey 'Fergy' tractor. The terracotta sashing represents the rich soils of West Gippsland.

Quilt design, layout, machine assembly, hand piecing and hand quilting were undertaken over a six month period by members of West Gippsland Women on Farms: Jan Slater, Margaret Gray, Margaret Roots, Quentin O'Keefe and Pauline Mathews.

"Our quilt is very much a product of place, from Oregon USA to West Gippsland, Victoria. The Oregon women understood the significance of a quilt as a tool to document place and as an experience that bonds women through the shared activity. They were only too happy to help and sent the pattern within three days! A quilt also represents a time in the lives of the quilters when it was a distraction from the difficulties of family problems, unemployment and illness. While it commemorates the 10th Gathering and documents land use in Gippsland, the quilt also represents the last six months of the life of Keith, the husband and brother of two of the quilters. The realities that faced us as rural women are stitched in that quilt through the experiences and feelings that were shared in its creation. The appearance of the quilt at the Warragul Gathering connected me immediately to quilting women farmers from diverse places. Quilts have been a feature of Gatherings since this first appearance in 1999." Quentin O'Keefe.
The quilt is made of pre-washed cotton fabric in many colours, both plain and printed, with hand embroidery and applied embellishments such as plastic eyes, beads and buttons. It is constructed in three layers, the front or top is the design, the back is plain and the middle layer is wool batting The background is a beige mottled print with 13 quilted and embroidered panels, each framed with a narrow dark red border applied to the 'field' by hand. The designs on each panel and the narrow frames are delineated with hand quilting. The words "WOMEN ON FARMS, 1999" and "WEST GIPPSLAND" are in single letters applied by hand. A wide border in dark red surrounds four sides and a narrow border in the same dark red has been used to bind the edges by machine stitching on the front of the quilt and hand stitching to the back. The back is plain cream fabric, with a long open ended panel at both top and bottom edges to enable hanging rods to be inserted. There is a fabric label sewn to the bottom left corner of the back.

By dividing the quilt into 3 vertical sections, the panels are:

LEFT SECTION - bees and a hive in a field with a flower, wine bottle and grapes, horses in a field with hay bales and a bull in a paddock.
CENTRE SECTION - a pear, a tractor, apples, lettering as above, a homestead and garden behind a picket fence, and a possum hanging from a branch with eucalyptus leaves and gumnuts. RIGHT SECTION - pinetree plantation, daffodils, a cow in a field and potatoes.

The label on the back has the following information hand printed in a permanent black ink. "Country Spirit" celebrates the 10th Gathering of Women on Farms, West Gippsland 1999." This quilt represents the many facets of rural life in West Gippsland and the spirit of the women who contribute to the growth and prosperity of the area. "Stitches of friendship, threads of support, woven together for all to enjoy." Jan S. Quilt design, layout, machine assembly, hand piecing and hand quilting by member of West Gippsland: Jan Slater, Margaret Gray, Margaret Roots, Quentin O'Keefe, Pauline Matthews. Inspired by Linn Benton Chapter, Oregon Women for Agriculture. Signed Jan S, Marg G, Marg R, Q. O'Keefe, Pauline M. It is embellished with three grub roses hand embroidered in bullion stitch, surrounded by green leaves in detached chain stich and stem stitch.
Acquisition Information:
Donation from Women on Farms, West Gippsland, 2006
Discipline: History
Dimensions: 2340 mm (Height), 1890 mm (Width)

More information

Tagged with: agriculture, banners, community groups, community organisations, cotton fabrics textiles, crafts, gender roles, globalisation, politics, rural life, rural victoria, textile technology, work
Themes this item is part of: Clothing & Textiles Collection, Domestic & Community Life Collection, Sustainable Futures Collection, Victorian Women on Farms Gathering Collection, Working Life & Trades Collection, Joan Templar, WoFG Volunteer
Primary Classification: AGRICULTURE & RURAL LIFE
Secondary Classification: Community Activity - Women on Farms Gathering
Tertiary Classification: quilts
Creator: Margaret Roots - Women on Farms, West Gippsland, Longwarry, Gippsland, Victoria, Australia, 1999
Creator: Jan Slater - Women on Farms, West Gippsland, Warragul, Gippsland, Victoria, Australia, 1999
Creator: Margaret Gray, Nar Nar Goon, West Gippsland, Victoria, Australia, 1999
Creator: Quentin O'Keefe - Women on Farms, West Gippsland, Warragul, Gippsland, Victoria, Australia, 1999
Creator: Pauline Matthews - Women on Farms, West Gippsland, Warragul, Gippsland, Victoria, Australia, 1999
Designer: Oregon Women for Agriculture, Oregon, United States of America, 1999
Commissioned By: Women on Farms, West Gippsland, Warragul, Gippsland, Victoria, Australia, 1998
Commissioned By: Mrs Lyn Johnson - Women on Farms, West Gippsland, Warragul, Gippsland, Victoria, Australia, 1999
References: We have several oral histories and images relating to this quilt., viewed 12.05.2008 LDH, viewed 12.05.2008 LDH
  1. [Chapter] Dale-Hallett, Liza, et al. "Rural women reclaiming their place through symbols, stories and rituals"., 2008
  2. [Article] Dale-Hallett, Liza & Diffey, Rhonda. 2006. "Motherboards and desert sands: stories of Australian rural women" Frontiers: A Journal of Women's Studies., 2006
  3. [Article] Dale-Hallett, Liza, et al. 2006. "Creating collaborative living history; the case of the Victorian Women on Farms Gathering Heritage Collection", History Australia., 2006

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