As you can see the quilt is of Aboriginal flag – only the band which is supposed to be black is actually a dark blue. What is harder to see in the photos is that stitched onto the entire quilt in thread that is the same colour as the background is the word ‘sorry’. Over and over the word ‘sorry’ is repeated in recognition of as a response to the statement stitched in black across the bottom of the piece: “Reconciliation starts with Recognition: White Australia has a Black History”. At the bottom right hand corner of the quilt there is an appliquéd crow; after reading that
“Waa (Crow) is the protector and one of the two moiety ancestors in the Eastern Kulin nation culture. We [the Wilin Centre] are very honoured to have Waa’s family watching over us at the Southbank campus, these birds symbolise our connection to the land and the Eastern Kulin nation.” – http://vca-mcm.unimelb.edu.au/reconciliation
and considering that crows are my favourite birds and that they also feature regularly in the work of my grandmother, textile artist Dawn Fitzpatrick, I felt it was significant to include a crow in this work.
The idea behind the design of this quilt – the way that it engages with its audience – is through giving people the opportunity to express their solidarity with the Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander people of this country by writing their names onto the blue band of the quilt in black marker. Importantly, once enough people sign their name onto the blue band it will become black – the colour which on the flag symbolises the Aboriginal people. I believe that the action of writing your name down as an act of solidarity is a symbolically powerfully one; The act of signing one’s names to something is certainly not something people do lightly, it is somehow official, even ceremonial, something people carefully consider. This prompting of careful consideration is exactly what I hope this quilt is able to do and in signing it I hope people are very consciously acknowledging the important role they can play in standing alongside Australia’s first peoples in their struggle for recognition, rights, autonomy and proper compensation.
The VCA Student Association has asked me if they can use it for a few more upcoming events after which we will donate the quilt to the Wilin Centre. This act of giving away my socially engaged quilts is an important part of my practice and one of my key strategies building relationships and community connectedness through my practice. In the coming months I will do a more work to documenting the quilt and the way it is used at events as well as the gifting of this piece to the Wilin centre. Hopefully this documentation will include feedback from people who participated in the work and a comment from the Wilin centre, so keep an eye on this space if you want to see more. In the meantime if you have any thoughts, comments or feedback about this work I would love to hear from you.