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The Rajah quilt

Introduction | events

the Rajah Quilt

The Rajah quilt 1841 British makers on board the Rajah en-route to Hobart pieced medallion style unlined coverlet: cotton sheeting and chintz appliqué, silk thread embroidery Collection of the National Gallery of Australia. Gift of Les Hollings and the Australian Textiles Fund 1989.
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The Rajah quilt was produced by women convicts on board the Rajah as it sailed toward Hobart Town in 1841.

The fabrication of the quilt, encouraged by British prison reformer Elizabeth Fry and The British Ladies Society for the Reformation of Female Prisoners, and most likely supervised by a free passenger on board the Rajah, Miss Kezia Hayter, has captured the imagination of National Gallery of Australia visitors since its acquisition in 1989.

Due to its size, fragility and light sensitive nature, Gallery textile conservators have advised that the quilt be made available for viewing only once a year. To enable as many people as possible to view this historic work, The Rajah quilt will be on display in the Gallery’s Foyer.


Piecing together the past: The Rajah quilt
Friday 8 August 3 pm
Robert Bell, Senior Curator, Decorative Arts and Design,
discusses the history of The Rajah quilt
Free | James O Fairfax Theatre

The Rajah quilt
: all in the detail
Saturday 9 August 3 pm
Debbie Ward, Head of Conservation, provides insights into
the materials and methods used by convict women to produce
The Rajah quilt
Free | James O Fairfax Theatre


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