Exhibition of rare quilts made by men in the military on displayed at The David Roche Foundation

Media release 2024


Quilts: The Fabric of War 1760-1900
The Annette Gero Collection of Quilts made from Military Fabrics

Adelaide: – From 15 February to 18 May The David Roche Foundation House Museum will present an exhibition of extraordinary and rarely seen quilts of artistic significance, all made by men.

This Adelaide-exclusive exhibition Quilts: The Fabric of War 1760-1900, includes quilts acquired in Australia and internationally revealing new and unseen treasures from the private collection of leading Australian quilt historian, Dr Annette Gero. The exhibition is accompanied by a new and extensive exhibition catalogue available for purchase.

Guest curator, Dr Gero says, ‘Most of the intarsia [patchwork] quilts in this exhibition are recently found and have never been exhibited before. Several rare quilts were even discovered in Australia and had been brought here by Prussian immigrants in the 1830s, and others whose relatives had fought in wars in England or Europe. These mid-nineteenth century immigrants journeyed to a new land bringing precious items with them, including their family heirloom quilts.’

‘They make one wonder how men could have possibly made these quilts as the geometric designs are so complex and there were no patterns to follow. Some of the quilts have 15,000 or 20,000 pieces of 1-inch squares and they were all made from brightly coloured eighteenth and nineteenth century military uniforms.’

A patchwork quilt made in India or England 1855–1880, using thousands of red, yellow, white, black, and blue 1-inch squares of wool broadcloth from military uniforms. Some are arranged as stars, and there are four quilt patches with detailed beading of British crowns, Prince of Wales feathers, and the colour standards of the 37th Regiment of Foot. The Annette Gero Collection.

37th Regiment of Foot Soldier’s patchwork made in India or England 1855–1880 wool broadcloth from military uniforms, beading The Annette Gero Collection

Dr Gero goes on to say, ‘As they are made by soldiers or military tailors, from colourful woollen uniform scraps, some of the quilts are pictorial and copied from famous paintings and celebrate life and victory or defeat. Their illustrated stories are full of facts, war history, and patriotic legends.’

Museum Director, Robert Reason said, ‘We are delighted to be working with guest curator Dr Gero to present her remarkable quilt collection made by men serving in the military. It’s humbling to think that these quilts still clearly reveal their service in the Prussian, Napoleonic, and Crimean wars, as well as service in British India. That Dr Gero recognised and researched the history of these important quilts has, without a doubt, saved them for future generations to enjoy.’


Dr Annette Gero, one of Australia’s leading quilt historians, has been documenting and collecting quilts since 1982. She has travelled across Australia giving lectures, curating exhibitions of Australian quilts and documenting quilts in private homes and public collections. She gained her PhD in 1982. In 1986 she was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society for Arts (London) in recognition of her work on Australian quilt history.

Dr Annette Gero, Quilt historian and collector

Dr Annette Gero, Quilt historian and collector

Dr Gero is a member of the Advisory Board, International Quilt Museum, USA; Founder and Patron, The Sydney Quilt Study Group; and Past President, Quilt Study Group of Australia. Her contribution to the history of Australian quilting has been documented in the Archives of the National Library of Australia, Canberra. She has lectured on quilt history across Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand, and has exhibited quilts internationally, including the Musee De L’impression Sur Etoffes, Mulhouse France; the Musee des Traditions et Arts, Normandy, France; the International Quilt Show, Houston, USA; the European Quilt Symposium, Alsace, France; the Museum Europäischer Kulturen, Berlin, Germany; and the American Folk Art Museum in New York. Dr Gero has published five books, putting Australian quilt culture on the world map.


Quilts: The Fabric of War 1760-1900
The Annette Gero Collection of Quilts made from Military Fabrics

15 February – 18 May 2024
Tuesday to Saturday 10AM – 4PM.
Closed public holidays.

Adult: $12. Concession: $10. TDRF Member: $9. Children under 12: Free.
Tickets may be purchased online or at the door.

The David Roche Foundation House Museum
241 Melbourne Street
North Adelaide SA 5006

T: 08 8267 3677
E: info@rochefoundation.org.au
W: rochefoundation.com.au

For further information
0438 095 580



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