Darwin Patchworkers and Quilters

Darwin Commemorative Quilt WWII

The Darwin Commemorative Wall Quilt is one of the many works of art which adorn the Northern Territory Library in its home in Parliament House, Darwin.

It contains about 1600 patches recording almost 2000 names of people who spent time in the Northern Territory during the War years. Among their number are civilians, defence personnel, nurses, police, evacuees, Commonwealth and North Australia Railway volunteers, members of the Civil Construction Corps, members of various religious orders and others. Patches were signed by people who visited the Northern Territory during 1992, the 50th Anniversary of the Bombing of Darwin, and people who wrote from interstate or overseas during that year. Names on the quilt are listed alphabetically by surname in the index to the quilt to help pinpoint the location of a particular patch.

The Quilt measures almost five metres by three, and is designed to resemble a typical porcellanite stone wall as can still be seen in some old Darwin Buildings. In addition to the names on the Quilt there are a nurse’s colour patch, the emblem of the Civil Construction Corps and twenty pictures of sites which would have been familiar to people in Darwin at the time. Some of the buildings can still be seen today, whereas others have disappeared as a result of enemy action, Cyclone Tracy or the indomitable march of progress.

The illustrations on the Quilt were based on photographs taken during the war years; these photographs are now held in the Northern Territory Library Collection,  PictureNT. The Quilt was made by Jenny Armour, a former librarian of the Northern Territory Library, and it took about 18 months of weekends and other free time to complete, using techniques of patchwork, appliqué, and machine embroidery. It was machine-quilted using 100% Australian wool batting.