My role as an artist in the Enlightenment Project is to provide a more lively engagement (through interpretation) with stories triggered by significant objects and collections at the museum - as opposed to the use of text information panels.
Working mostly in textiles at the moment I was immediately attracted to their enmormous textile collection and also inspired by the wonderful show, The Presence of Things: sense, veneer and guise, curated by Stephen Gallenger way back in 2005. (sorry could only find awful links to this show!) In this show fourteen Australian artists and crafts practitioners created new contemporary art works response to the embroidery and lace collections of the Embroiderers Guild, Victoria. Simply new sunning works were made in response to selected pieces from the guild's collection and they were exhibited together - making for a sensory joy of possible links, leaps and relationships.
On my first visit to the Kyneton Museum on my residency I fell in love with the signature quilt - for its age, quality of stitch and it's story. The story of the signature quilt was shared with me by an extraordinary woman called Pat who has volunteered at the Museum for many years and knows the collection very well.
Way back in 1905 women from a local church decided to fund raise for a charity by making a quilt - not only were women involved who had extra ordinary stitching skills but locals were invited to participate through purchasing a quilt section and writing some text to be included on this leaving the donation and the message to be embroidered at the local milk bar. (I like this touch).
So the notion of community quilt is the direction I have taken this project - inviting community members to both donate fabric to be included in the quilts, to donate a patch or their time stitching them together. I will be posting soon the very first collection of fabric and quilt stories that have so far been donated.
Here is the twist in the project the final quilts will be shown on cubby - house like frames referencing the story of the museum how its form documents story of Kyneton. The museum being an icon architectural monument documenting the towns journey from a small settlement to a rich booming town with a large and grand bank being built.
I hope also to touch on an include sampler embroidery works I have recently had the pleasure of viewing at the museum last week - but more about these later in a future post.
More details about the signature quilt is detailed below.
346.00 Object Name : Table - Cloth
"AUTO GRAPHED TABLECLOTH"
Brief Description: Linen cloth embroidered with Kyneton local organisation symbols and the names/autographs/signatures of donors, by the congregational church ladies guild as a fundraiser for a mission to India in 1905. The cloth comprises seventeen sections stitched together with torchen lace insertions and edging. Bought by Mr Albert Young at a Dutch auction. Full list of transcriptions of names from the signature embroider is stored with card.
Donated by the Kyneton Historical Society
The signature quilt
detail : torchen lace insertion
detail : embroidery patch
The resulting works will be on show during September during the annual Kyneton Daffodil Arts Festival. I hope through viewing these new works that the audience appreciate the historical relevance of stitch in community life. Also accessing objects/items from the museum that are rarely shown due to the challenges of showing textiles - their fragility and also sheer space that is required to show them.
Lastly I wanted to acknowledge here an artist who has worked a great deal with museum collections in Victoria Malcolm Mackinon
And from the UK a research project that is within a university, rather than a museum that collects clothing stories from the local project local communities and every day people.
And finally a note about a contemporary community fundraiser quilt project I have just been invited to participate in called Project Patch Work - but more about this later