Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Maria Challenge,

Back from our holiday break, unpacked the caravan washed and ironed. Back to normal routine or though I am not sure what normal is sometimes !!

During our stay in Port Stephens we visited the Port Stephens Community Arts Centre for the biennial Quilt Show where we saw an interesting show of quilts and designs. They had featured a " Maria Quilt" thought out by female convicts on their way to Australia. Transported to Australia for several trivial crimes on board the ship the" Maria" in 1817.
A Quaker lady Elizabeth Fry visited women in Newgate Prison in London where she observed women and children in horrible conditions. With some help Elizabeth set about teaching the women to sew. Elizabeth and the helpers made parcels of fabric,needles,pins,scissors,white and black thread,,hanks of coloured thread for embroidery,thimble,and 2 pounds of patchwork fabric for the women prisoners.

These parcels were given to the convict women prior to their  6 month journey on the ship to Australia. They could keep their quilts if they wanted or sell them when arriving in Australia.
You can read their story in the novel by Australian Author Margaret A Rowe  called the  Maria Challenge Quilt. Telling the story of a quilting group.

Elizabeth Fry born 1780 became famous  in Britian in the early 19 th century working for reforms in the prison system.

The Maria Quilt made by the convict women has been recreated  by the quilt makers from  Port Stephens. It is their version of the patterns and  handmade taking 2 yrs to complete. Calling the project. Maria's Quilt Challenge.The requirements for the Challenge by the Port Stephens ladies was each lady to hand in 1 kg of cotton fabric for swapping . Only put in what you would use yourself. The Commitment to be finished in 2 yrs time for their next Quilt Show. All fabric to be placed in a calico bag provided for the ladies to choose.. Create any type of quilt you like. No one to see your quilt till the challenge is over. Most of all have fun doing it.

These are some of the quilts made by the Port Stephens ladies  for the Maria Challenge.

Other Quilts from the Quilt Show.

So many lovely quilts on display.
I did start some Hexagon blocks while away  and have 3 done and hopefully will have a few more so I can  show next time on here.
Happy Quilting ,
Jen x


Karen said...

A very interesting post, I will go to the links and read more.

Connie said...

What a interesting story and what neat quilts!

Lurline said...

Very beautiful quilts!
Hugs - Lurline♥

Radka said...

Very interesting post, mainly about Maria Quilt and Elizabeth Fry.
I saw one of the convict quilts, the Rajah Quilt, in London, a couple of years ago, you can read more about it here: