22 March 2022

Quilts sewn with love will bring a world of warmth to bushfire victims

| Katrina Condie
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Group of people standing in front of quilts on show

(Left to right) Eurobodalla Bushfire Recovery Support Service coordinator Jane Moxon, Eurobodalla Council’s community, arts and recreation director Kathy Arthur, Eurobodalla Mayor Mathew Hatcher, bushfire-impacted resident Chris Kowal and the Wollongong Modern Quilt Guild’s Rachael Letham and Sally Turner at the official opening of the bushfire blocks exhibition. Photo: Eurobodalla Shire Council.

Quilters from around the world will bring some comfort to victims of the Black Summer bushfires.

More than 15,000 hand-crafted squares made by quilters in 36 countries have been sewn into 877 quilts, which will be distributed to families in bushfire-affected communities on the South Coast.

Shortly after the fires, the Wollongong Modern Quilt Guild asked the quilting community to make tree-themed patchwork squares to sew into quilts for people who lost their homes.

The theme is based on the ideal that trees symbolise life and regeneration, with their roots providing strength and stability.

The Eurobodalla Bushfire Recovery Support Service, in partnership with the quilt guild, arranged an exhibition at the Mechanics Institute in Moruya, with about 30 quilts on display until 31 March.

READ ALSO Sprinkler systems to protect endangered Corroboree Frogs from fires in Kosciuszko National Park

Following the exhibition, around 100 quilts will be gifted to clients registered with the recovery support service.

It’s hoped the recipients will appreciate their quilt’s warmth and will also feel the love sewn into each stitch from people who care.

The quilters have expressed how proud they are to have participated in the project.

“We were so pleased to make blocks in our quilting club, something useful to do to help after the terrible fires,” one said.

“My (quilting group) in Greensboro North Carolina thanks you. We enjoyed being able to participate and help our fellow friends in Australia,” said another.

Words from some residents expressing thoughts on their recovery are also on display in the exhibition.

Quilts hung on walls

The quilts will be on display until 31 March before being distributed to bushfire victims. Photo: Eurobodalla Shire Council.

Eurobodalla Mayor Mathew Hatcher said the project was a heartfelt way to show that people cared and it would bring comfort to many.

“Two years on from the fires, the recovery journey for many is still difficult and slow,” he said.

“These quilts come with a message from the quilters: you are not alone and you matter.”

Guild member and one of the three women who started the project, Rachael Letham, said it was the result of friends watching the coverage of the fires and feeling helpless.

READ ALSO Community opinions sought for post-bushfire rebuild of Bega Valley’s historic halls

Ms Letham said they did “all the normal things” like donate food, clothes and wraps for bats, but it did not feel enough.

Little did they know their call for patchwork squares would rally a worldwide community into action.

“We were just blown away. It’s been a massive community effort,” she said.

“We got to work with our Australian quilting community to help us put these all together and used our network of family and friends to courier it all over the country.”

The Quilts for Australia, Bushfire Blocks 2020 exhibition will be held at the Mechanics Institute on Page Street, Moruya until Thursday 31 March, from 9 am to 4 pm, Monday to Friday.

Two case managers will be based at the exhibition throughout, and clients are encouraged to pop in and say hello.

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