We have just returned from a wonderful holiday in Central Australia and I am pleased to say that I have returned with a quilt story.
Whilst in Alice Springs, in the very centre of Australia, we visited the National Pioneer Women's Hall of Fame. On display there is the Signature Quilt made in 2003 to celebrate International Women's Day. The quilt is made up of calico squares, all signed by Australian women who have recorded firsts or those who have made significant achievements within their field, with alternate patches of patterned fabric, appropriate to the signatory's field. The quilt is representative of both a traditional women's craft of the 19th century as well as making visible women's achievements of the 20th and 21st centuries - a "Patchwork of Empowerment".
The completed quilt on display measures around 3m x 2.5m (10‘ x 8‘). It contains the signatures of 343 Australian women who have been first in a variety of fields (ranging from sport, law, medicine, politics, public service, adventure etc) within Australia, their State or Territory or their community.
The quilt has been signed by a range of exceptional women - a complete list of signatures is on the National Pioneer Women's Hall of Fame website. The signatories include:
Evonne Goolagong Cawley - First Aboriginal woman to win the prestigious Wimbledon tennis singles title (1971)
Zali Steggall - First Australian woman to win a World Cup alpine event (1997: slalom, Park City, Utah, USA); first Australian to win an individual medal at a Winter Olympic Games (1998: slalom, Nagano); first alpine World Champion in Southern Hemisphere (1999: women’s slalom, World Skiing Championships).
Margaret Fulton - First and greatest of the Australian celebrity cookery writers, with 4 million cookbook sales over the past 40 years; credited with being one of first to bring international cuisine to the Australian table after WWII.
Joan Kirner - First woman to head VIC government (State Premier: 1992).
Lowitja O'Donoghue - First Aboriginal woman to receive Order of Australia (1976); founding Chairperson of ATSIC (1990); one of SA’s first trained Aboriginal nurses (1956).
Dawn Fraser - First and only swimmer in history of Olympic Games to have won an Olympic event (100m freestyle) 3 times in succession (achieved Tokyo: 1964).