Textile Society of America


Date of this Version



Presented at “Textiles and Settlement: From the Plains Space to Cyber Space,” Textile Society of America 12th Biennial Symposium, Lincoln, Nebraska, October 6-9, 2010. Copyright 2010 Textile Society of America


This paper will examine the work of three contemporary Australian quiltmakers in terms of a Deleuzian ‘smooth space’. It will be argued that the patchwork quilt represents a material manifestation of a concept which marks out networked, relational and transversal thought and, has the potential to link both the most similar and the most disparate of ideas. A weblog (hhtp://quilted-out-ofspace.blogspot.com) will document the process and in turn be analysed to explore parallels with the processes of making a quilt— including the potential for alternative social networks such as ‘cybermovements’, ‘submerged networks’, and ‘counterpublics’.

The quilts of Emma Rowden, Judy McDermott, and Pamela Fitzsimons interrogate specific places within New South Wales—the site of a former mental asylum and now college of the arts (Callan Park), a jail (Long Bay) and a place of natural but now endangered beauty (Bow Wow Gorge). They expose many and varied voices: those of the ‘mad’ and the ‘bad’, the institution, alternative notions of home, and concepts of time. Each artist also taps into a subtext of the personal and private, producing work that subverts the comforting notion of the quilt, thereby ‘shattering’ prior expectations of the form.
The ‘here’ and ‘now’ of performance allows the speaker to embody these many voices, to which she adds her own, thereby creating yet another space which, by its inherent instability has the potential to open up yet other connections, other possibilities, and the dissolution of boundaries.