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Quilt leaves prison to find a permanent home at Parliament

Jul 26th, 2013 | By | Category: Latest News, News

QuiltMain1.A LARGE QUILT which inspired women prisoners to stay out of trouble after release will be presented to Parliament next week.

The quilt made by women prisoners and Quilt-Stitch Group volunteers in Auckland will be presented to at an awards banquet.

Minister for arts, culture and heritage Christopher Finlayson said that the quilt carries an important message about unity and represents the empowerment of women.

“When this quilt is displayed it will carry a positive message about women helping other women rebuild their lives through creativity and training in the traditional craft of quilting,” he said.

It will be presented by Quilt-Stitch Group volunteers Mary Ann France and Clare Barnes at the 2013 Big ‘A’ Awards Ceremony at the banquet hall in Parliament on July 30.

Ms France said while the offenders who were originally involved with the quilt have now been released, their sense of achievement is manifold.

“When they start a project they are continuously amazed at the result and what they can achieve. The improvement in self-esteem is gradual and very apparent.”

Comments from the prisoners while making the quilt includes: “I can sew all the time instead of gossiping & causing trouble,” and “I want to be able to teach my children to sew.”


Above, Quilt-Stitch Group members receiving the Big ‘A’ Prison Arts Community Award from Pita Sharples last year.

The quilt took several years to complete by the Quilt-Stitch Group and about 25 prisoners from Auckland Region Women’s Corrections Facility in Manukau.

The Dresden Plate design quilt was bought by the Parliamentary Art Committee after it was displayed in Parliament for a prisoner art exhibition in January.

Displays and collection coordinator Michelle Janse said the quilt will fit with the theme of women helping women in the Parliament gallery.

Ms Janse said it was a testament to the women’s skill, patience, and willingness to learn and see a project completed.

“The quilt is a purchased artwork with its own story and history. We plan to put it back on display in Parliament House.”

The volunteer stitch group members have been delivering programme for seven years and received the Big ‘A’ Prison Arts Community Award in 2012 for their work.

The Big ‘A’ Awards celebrate the achievements of individuals and organisations in providing opportunities for people with limited access to participate in the arts, as artists and audience members.

Each year, about 50 women attend the stitch group programme. A maximum of 12 prisoners are able to take part in the classes.

Ms France said the Quilt-Stitch Group will use the funds from selling the quilt for quilting supplies.

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is is a Whitireia journalism student with a BA from Victoria University with English literature and media studies majors.
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