Spectacular quilt tells the stories of 500 students

A project designed by Ashfield Public School students has won the top prize at the HIDDEN Rookwood sculpture exhibition. Ben Worsley reports.

Two girls holding a quilt. Two girls holding a quilt.
Image: More than 500 Ashfield Public School students contributed to the prize-winning quilt.

Students at Ashfield Public School have been busily designing and sewing over the past few months, and the results are spectacular.

The school has created a quilt called ‘Intersections’ - 13 metres long with 504 unique patches, each telling a student’s story.

So extraordinary is the quilt, it won the school’s prize at the HIDDEN Rookwood sculpture exhibition, which takes place among the gardens and graves of one of Sydney’s largest cemeteries.

Doris, a year 5 student at Ashfield, proudly described the idea behind the quilt.

“Every year since 2018, our whole school comes together to create a special collaborative sculptural artwork to acknowledge Refugee Week where we remember and learn about the journeys undertaken by displaced people,” she said.

“We learn about empathy, understanding, and building a strong community.”

Olivia, from Year 6, said the quilt embodies the school’s ethos of diversity, inclusivity and respect.

“Our project represents the intersection of lives, cultures, and stories coming together to create something new,” she said.

“Just like displaced people on their journey to seek safety, security and home.”

The school’s artist-in-residence Karen Manning said the quilt was inspired by the children’s book ‘My Two Blankets’, by Irena Kobald and Freya Blackwood.

“The project allowed our students to explore a unique blend of art forms, from textiles to storytelling, weaving together a tapestry of experiences,” she said.

“Through this collaborative effort, they fostered a cross-cultural understanding and highlighted the significance of language, communication and unity in a diverse world.”

“And to have it recognised as a winner in HIDDEN Rookwood is simply wonderful.”

Doris said the quilt was made using upcycled and recycled fabric.

“We used things like old clothing and upholstery to make it. The coloured fabric copied the illustrations and colour palette in the book, with each piece having its own history and life before becoming art,” she said.

Olivia said every student in Ashfield Public School participated.

“Everyone made their own patch, and each patch tells a story of refuge and hope, just like the stories of refugees we want to share,” she said.

“Together, we learn, grow, and make the world a better place.”

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