Following the death of her son Adam to AIDS in 2001, Paquita Crouch realised she needed an outlet for her grief. She also wanted a permanent reminder of her boy and to come out as the mother of someone who had died from AIDS.
When she saw the AIDS Memorial Quilt on display during the 2002 Sydney Gay Games, Crouch was deeply moved and decided to create a quilt panel for Adam.
As I saw all of these quilts and thought about all of these people who died, I just walked around howling quietly to myself. It was absolutely amazing. All quilts of all sizes and colours, Crouch said.
Her panel for Adam joined around 860 other panels from NSW and the ACT, representing around 3,000 people who died of AIDS-related illnesses between 1988 and 2004.
For the last 12 or so years the quilt has been packed away in an office on Oxford Street. This week The Quilt Project Sydney announced the Powerhouse Museum had offered to give the quilt a permanent home in its new walk-through storage facility in Castle Hill which will be open to the public.
The Quilt Project now needs to raise $100,000 to cover the one-off cost of curating, preserving and storing the quilt in the museum. An appeal to raise the money was launched on Tuesday.
Basically it’s to provide the racks and shelves, plus it will cover the process of cataloguing the whole thing, which will take about a year, Quilt Project convenor Philip Diment said.
The quilt will be boxed and stored and people can go and look up certain pieces. Some panels may be on display.
Kimberley Webber, senior curator at the Powerhouse, said she was pleased the museum would be able to care properly for the quilt.
The quilt is an important part of Sydney and Australia’s social history. We need to preserve it for the future, Webber said.
Crouch, 74, was glad the quilt would no longer be folded up in an office.
It’s wonderful to know the Powerhouse is going to house them and they’re going to be kept in a reasonable atmosphere, she said.
Her panel for Adam, who died at the age of 40, took a year to make and features a photo of him, a poem and an embroidered seahorse, because he always wanted to have a seahorse tattooed on his shoulder, but he couldn’t.
I was grieving for a long time. It doesn’t go away when you’re a mother if you lose a child. But all my work on the quilt calmed me and made feel, to a certain extent, at peace, Crouch said.
It was a very, very healing process.
Donations to The Quilt Project are tax deductible and can be made online at the project’s website.