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Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art
Ruth Stoneley | It's not all sweetness and light (detail) 1983 | Plain cream commercial cotton and red glazed chintz in non-traditional 'log cabin' patchwork | Purchased 1988 | Collection: Queensland Art Gallery
5 JULY 2013

Vibrant, expressive quilts which challenge the perceived separation of art and craft are featured in a free exhibition of work by the late leading Brisbane quiltmaker Ruth Stoneley at the Queensland Art Gallery (QAG) from July 13 to October 7, 2013.

Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA) Director Chris Saines said ‘Ruth Stoneley: A Stitch in Time’, presented in the Glencore-Xstrata Queensland Artists’ Gallery, would showcase exemplary works by the artist, and provide a contemporary and local counterpoint to the exhibition ‘Quilts 1700–1945’ from the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, now showing at QAG.

‘The exhibition will track Stoneley’s transition from early experimentation with the contained patterns of traditional quiltmaking to later abstract and expressive works which reflected feelings and ideas about herself and the world around her,’ Mr Saines said.

‘Among the highlights are an early quilt from the Gallery’s Collection, It’s not all sweetness and light 1983, created from cream commercial cotton and red glazed chintz, and a series of startling black quilts, including a major piece from the Tamworth Regional Gallery, Mystery 1984, and Starting over 1991, one of many works loaned by the Stoneley family.’

Mr Saines said Stoneley was an inspirational figure, not only for her innovative work, but as an active member of the Brisbane quilting community.

‘Connecting with other quilters through her Highgate Hill shop Patchwork Supplies, Ruth was part of a strong network of makers and she was an active mentor and teacher to many local practitioners,’ he said.

‘We’re delighted to present this exhibition as part of the Glencore-Xstrata Queensland Artists’ Gallery program, an ongoing partnership with Glencore-Xstrata that enables QAGOMA to tell the stories of important Queensland artists.’

Spanning almost 30 years, works in the exhibition include 20 art quilts and a selection of outfits, teaching pieces and ephemera. Three quilts by Stoneley from the Queensland Art Gallery Collection are featured alongside loans from the Stoneley family and Tamworth Regional Gallery.

Ruth Stoneley was born in Monto, Queensland, in 1940 and was entirely self-taught as an artist. She committed herself to quilting full-time from 1982, and worked prolifically until her death in 2007.

Stoneley exhibited widely in Australia and internationally, including shows in Japan, Indonesia, the United Kingdom and the United States, where she also travelled after winning a Churchill Fellowship.

At 2.30pm on Thursday July 18, the artist’s son Adam Stoneley will join exhibition curator Bree Richards, Assistant Curator, Contemporary Australian Art, QAGOMA, in conversation in the QAG lecture theatre to share personal insights into his mother’s life and work. This will be followed at 3.30pm talk in the exhibition by freelance textile conservator Dr Michael Marendy on how to store and hang quilts in a domestic setting. Both events are free, and no bookings are required.

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