Necessity: waggas and the art of making do
The National Wool Museum is custodian to Australia’s largest and most significant collection of heritage quilts and waggas.
A selection of these pieces, along with objects that tell the stories of making do, will be on display for the first time in 25 years during the exhibition, Necessity: waggas and the art of making do from 29 July.
A wagga is a quilt made of necessity. Born in the desperate times of the 1890s to the 1930s, the wagga is a uniquely Australian creation that embodies the practice of making do. They were made from the recycled materials that were available to people at the time – for travellers on the land it might have been flour or wheat bags, for a family it might have been old clothing stitched together.
Taking inspiration from the wagga, the exhibition presents a range of creations borne of necessity and making do. These additional objects include a wool fragment recovered from the 1797 Sydney Cove shipwreck, a maid’s dress from 1840, two rare Jimmy Possum chairs, contraband objects from the Geelong Gaol and even an upcycled cardboard sleeping bag.
As contemporary community quilting projects show, the art of making do is still with us today. Necessity is an ode to the beauty that emerges in desperate times – the extraordinary human capacity of making do.