Newsletter September 2021


Only 6 weeks to go!

Hello all!

The Gympie Rotary Quilt & Craft Spectacular, October 30 – 31, is now considered one of Queensland’s largest quilting and crafting events – not to be missed, with over 200 contemporary and traditional quilts on display as well as outstanding and diverse artisan craft exhibits.

And there’s more – the event will again run alongside it’s “Ancient Crafts, Rare Trades” Expo – both events held at the same site, same dates and times, entry to both included in the one ticket price of $8. The events are complementary – one boasting the contemporary, the innovative, new trends and techniques, the other a tribute to the heritage trades of our past and a celebration of the artisans that keep these almost-forgotten trades alive. Over 40 makers will gather at this year’s “Ancient Crafts, Rare Trades” Expo, for a weekend filled with non-stop demonstrations, vintage displays, bushcraft shows, artisan markets and lots of good old-fashioned camaraderie. Head on over to for more details.


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There’ll be plenty to see at the Quilt & Craft Spectacular, but keep an eye out for these three special pieces on display:

1. The Chilean Arpillera

Our February newsletter included a story about the Underground Railway, and how quilts made in the US in the 1800s contained secret signals that would guide runaway slaves to freedom in the north.

Here’s a similar story about arpilleras – collaged tapestries, sewn by impoverished Chilean women during the totalitarian military regime of the Pinochet government in the 70s. Powerless, many used the arpilleras as a means to depict political themes, denouncing the violation of human rights and portraying their impoverished living conditions and government repression.

Folk art? Messages of protest? Historical records? Chilean arpilleras are all of these. These patchwork pictures, made from rags by starving wives of the missing or murdered menfolk of Chilean villages and shantytowns, are chronicles of the life of the desperately impoverished, the hungry and the oppressed. 

Embroidered on a backing of burlap, arpilleras were typically constructed using the cheapest available materials, including flour or wheat sacks typically made of jute, flax, or hemp fibers, scraps of cloth, used thread. They were created on thick hessian canvasses, with colourful pieces of fabric stitched and embroidered together in appliqué style to form flat images of people, buildings, city streets, and landscapes. Many also included three-dimensional elements, such as small dolls stitched on top of the fabric. When an arpillera was finished, it was framed by a wool crocheted border and varies in size from 9” x 12” to 12” x 18” inches. It was then smuggled out, not only to tell the outside world of their desperate plight, but to raise funds to feed their children.

The Chilean Arpilleras are an important record of the lives of Chilean people of that time. “A simple cry uttered by the artistic voice of creative minds, full of charm and wit, ingeniously straightforward – and in their way, as powerful as Picasso’s Guernica” quote artist Anita Aarons (1912 – 2000), who exhibited her own collection of Chilean Arpilleras at the Noosa Regional Gallery in 1986.

Pictured below is one arpillera that will be on exhibit at this year’s Quilt & Craft Spectacular, included in The Gentle Arts display. In contrast to some, it’s a relatively happy scene, but note the absence of menfolk, the woman up the ladder running power lines….On loan, with thanks to U. Garratt


2. Can you guess the material that this waistcoat was crocheted with?

Have a close look when you’re at the event, it’ll be on display in the Gentle Arts area! This was crafted by glass artisan Michele of emubeads. 


3. Community Futures Project

Gympie’s Community Futures Project is an inclusive art group for diverse emerging artists who share a common interest in artistic expression. Managing significant challenges, these students wish to develop their skills further – the Community Futures Project offers a welcoming, accessible environment and a platform for them to do just that.

Including painting, craft, clay, theatre and more, specialist tutors attend to share their skills. 

A round of applause for the makers of this quilt which will be on display at the event – it was created using permanent fabric markers on calico, each artist choosing their own scene. The sashing and backing were dyed using liquid radiance.



Prudence Mapstone’s Scrumble Brooch workshop is now confirmed – be quick, it’s booking out fast. Details: 

To book: email, name this workshop, your name and contact phone number.


All workshops are filling up fast! For details, go to and book by emailing, include the workshop you’d like to book, your name and contact phone number.


And here’s some words of wisdom from Margaret Olley 

Much-loved Australian artist, Margaret Olley (1923–2011) spent a formative part of her career in Brisbane. A charismatic character, she exerted a lasting impact on many artists as a mentor and friend and was also a muse for artists including William Dobell and Jeffrey Smart.

“I’ve never liked housework. I get by doing little chores when I feel like them, in between paintings. Who wants to chase dust all their life? You can spend your whole lifetime cleaning the house. I like watching the patina grow. If the house looks dirty, buy another bunch of flowers, is my advice.” Margaret Olley

And here’s some more words of …. well, you decide whether it’s wisdom or not!