Inside the Collection

Australian AIDS memorial quilt project

Australian AIDS Memorial Quilt
Photography Powerhouse Museum © all rights reserved

Since 2007, a team of industrious Castle Hill volunteers have been documenting the Australian AIDS Memorial Quilt. The ‘Quilt’ itself is actually over 100 quilts, each of which is made up of panels remembering individuals who have died from HIV/AIDS since 1982.

The Australian AIDS Memorial Quilt Project began in 1988 and provided a focus for the expression of community grief as the AIDS epidemic grew and was part of a worldwide movement to promote compassion, education and understanding about AIDS and its human toll. The Museum received the quilt in 2007.

A block from the AIDS quilt
A block from the AIDS quilt. Photography Powerhouse Museum © all rights reserved

The volunteers work on the quilts out at the Powerhouse Discovery Centre in Castle Hill (the Museum’s off-site storage and collection care facility). The volunteers’ record information about the people remembered on the quilts and about the friends and families who made the panels. Special trays are constructed to move and store the large and heavy quilts. They are packed using archival materials, including ‘pool noodles’ to prevent the fabric lying in sharp folds which may later crack.

Volunteers work on the quilts
Collection Powerhouse Museum © all rights reserved

The Museum has recently issued a press release seeking to contact panel makers and contributors and request their permissions to make public the documentation and stories on each of the quilts in this valuable and very personal memorial.

To contribute towards the documentation of these quilts, contact Nicky Balmer, Registration Department, Powerhouse Museum on 02 9217 0117 or nicoleb@phm.gov.au.

21 responses to “Australian AIDS memorial quilt project

  • Hi, is there any intention of having all, if not some, of the panels displayed during this 40th anniversary of Mardi Gras?

    • Dear James,

      The Museum will being featuring a display at the Powerhouse Museum to celebrate the Mardi Gras’ fortieth year – ’40 Years of fabulousness’. The Museum will not be displaying the quilt panels; however, the quilt is accessible to anyone who would like to view it by contacting the Museum.

      Thank you

      Damian

  • My brother is featured on the photo of the quilt. I don’t know who made his panel. Can you let me know, so I can thank them. My brothers name is Andrew Grove from Adelaide

  • I made the quilt for Mark Felshaw 1963-1991.
    You have my permission and joy to exhibit his quilt.
    He would have loved it.
    Warm regards Jo Ditchett

    • Hi, I used to write to Marc, for years. We were penfriends. Started off writing to each other at school. I live in the UK. So pleased to see his name mentioned here. A lovely memorial. 🙂 Sarah.xx

  • Is it possible to find out if a friend’s panel was completed? He died in QLD in late 92. I was told a panel was being created, purple with a cockatoo, but I never saw it.

  • Hello,

    I am wanting to find out more information about quilt panels associated with Queensland Positive People (QPP):

    Panel number 056006
    Details: Reg Carnell. Quilt Project QLD. Truely Inspirational, mate. Love – the new kid on the block.

    Panel number 055006
    Details: QPP – Richard, Andrie, Ben, Mark, Alan, Lyn, Lee, Greg, Ross, Doug, Phillip, Warren, Bill, Reg, Patrick, Phillip, Ross, Jason, Glen, Ted, Keith, David, Jeff.

    Thank you very much in advance!
    Maddie

    • Dear John,
      Thanks for your enquiry regarding South Australian AIDS Quilts. Unfortunately I don’t know where there is a collection of SA quilts, the collection here is mostly NSW panels.
      Regards, Anni Turnbull, Curator

  • I made a quilt for my dear friend Alan Hughes who passed away in 1998.

    In 1999 I moved to Melbourne and made the quilt in 2000. I also wrote a short biographical story about his life which I submitted along with the quilt to the Victorian Aids Council Quilt Project.

  • My brother dale robert brentwood (aka wylie) . We had a panel made and i have seen it on the quilt. When is the quilt in melbourne. He passed away in february 1991. Please email my with your reply. Thankyou

  • I have just seen for the first time (on your website) the panel of a friend of mine, Barry McCluskey (1955-1992). I would like to know where the quilt featuring his panel is, and who wrote the evocative, beautiful poem written on the quilt as a tribute to him.

    • Dear Clinton,

      Many thanks for your enquiry about Barry McCluskey’s panel.
      The quilt with Barry’s panel on it is carefully stored at the Museum’ Castle Hill site where we have 79 quilts.
      Unfortunately we have no information about who made the panel or penned the lovely poem.
      We would like to gather more information about Barry to add to his story record.
      We are happy to show you the panel if you give us a few weeks notice.

      Thank you for getting in touch
      Regards Anni Turnbull, Curator

    • Response below from Curator Anni Turnbull:

      Dear Gilbert,

      Thank you for your enquiry regarding AIDS Quilt panels for Paul Stephen Grace and Shane Allen Maddick. We often didn’t get a lot of information about each person reflected in the panel when we acquired the quilts onto the Museum’s collection.

      I found this reference to Paul Grace, not Paul Stephen Grace: https://collection.maas.museum/object/409204. I also found that Shane Allen Maddick was in two of the 79 quilts we hold in the Museum. One is this one: https://collection.maas.museum/object/389231 and Shane’s panel is in the top left-hand corner. The other panel is in this quilt: https://collection.maas.museum/object/384079 and is located at the bottom right.

      We would love more information on Shane Allan Maddick and Paul Grace. I have put some people’s personal stories in the history field. It would be lovely to know why certain symbols were chosen for the panel.

      Again, thanks for your interest.

      Regards,
      Anni

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