Quilt Association headquarters, Minerva Arts Centre, Llanidloes
This centre, in a former car showroom, is home to the Quilt Association, which collects and conserves historic quilts.
Quilting has been a popular pastime in Wales for centuries. It provided an income for some women. Quilts were practical objects for keeping warm at home and could be made by almost anyone, regardless of means. Offcuts or surplus scraps of material could be used. Quilting could provide an outlet for artistic expression.
The oldest Welsh quilt in the association’s collection dates from 1760. Most of the quilts have been donated, often along with stories about the maker or provenance. Each is stored in a controlled environment to prevent deterioration. Most remain in the condition in which they arrived. Ones which were degraded have been carefully restored.
The collection exceeds 230 quilts, including many from Mid Wales. The picture on the right shows part of a quilt made in the Llangurig area c.1880 by stitching triangles of local Welsh flannel together to create a “bow-tie” effect. The border has a “flying geese” pattern. Black thread was used throughout.
Some of the quilts were made in South Wales and elsewhere in the 1930s, when the Rural Industries Bureau encouraged a revival of hand-quilting.
There are also Canadian Red Cross quilts, made by Canadian women to help people in Europe who were bombed out of their homes in the Second World War. The collection has examples which ended up in Ely, Cardiff, in Tywyn, Gwynedd, and in Kent. The Tywyn quilt, pictured left, includes nine squares from redundant children’s clothes.
The seed of the association was planted by a Canadian collector, Ron Simpson. He was living in the UK when the Llanidloes Museum displayed some of his quilts in 1995. Many were Welsh quilts which he’d bought in North America, where they were taken or made by emigrants.
The association was formed in 1996 to promote interest in this unsung element of Welsh heritage. It rented space in the showroom for annual summer shows, and eventually raised funds to purchase the building and create the Minerva Arts Centre.
The centre continues to hold an annual quilt display, featuring antique and contemporary quilts. It also hosts other displays and events, including workshops with experienced textile workers.
Postcode: SY18 6BY
Quilt Association website – details of exhibitions, events and quilt collection