Home
History
- Newsletter archive
Supporters
People Remembered
- Quilt Blocks
- Quilt Panels
Making a Panel
Displays
- Hosting a Display
- First Unfolding
- South Island School Displays
- North Island School Displays
- South Island Public Displays
- North Island Public Displays
- International Displays
- 1992 tour of Northland
Digital Quilt
Contacting the NZ Quilt Project

The first Unfolding of The New Zealand AIDS Memorial Quilt

For photos of other displays etc., see:
School displays in the North Island and the South Island
Public Displays in the North Island and the South Island
International Displays which include the New Zealand AIDS Memorial Quilt
The 1992 tour of Northland of the New Zealand AIDS Memorial Quilt

In readiness for the first Unfolding, a series of workshops was held to create new panels and assemble blocks. The first of these workshops was held on August 20th, 1991, only 7 weeks out from the Unfolding. The following three photos are from this workshop.

Photo taken at th workshop to create new panels before the first unfolding
On the left is Nikki Eddy who was the Convenor for The Quilt during the mid 1990s, and standing behind her is Darren Horn, the first Convenor.

Photo taken at th workshop to create new panels before the first unfolding

Photo taken at th workshop to create new panels before the first unfolding

Photo showing one of the first blocks being assembled.
The first blocks are assembled at Nikki's home.

Photo showing one of the first blocks being assembled.

All too soon, October 5th 1991 arrives and it is time to set up in the Auckland Art Gallery for the first Unfolding that evening.

Photo of last minute repairs before the first Unfolding.
Even while getting the blocks ready for hanging, out come the needle and thread (again).

The evening started shortly after 7.00pm with the arrival of Her Excellency, Dame Catherine Tizard, Governor General. Dame Catherine, Libby Woodhams (Convenor of the Australian Quilt Project, who flew over especially for the event, bringing some of the Australian blocks with her), and Darren Horn, Convenor of the New Zealand Quilt Project all gave short speeches before the blocks were unfolded.
Once all the blocks were unfolded, everyone had a good look at them before a light supper was served.
The evening concluded with the departure of Her Excellency at approximately 8.30pm.

Photo of Dame Catherine Tizard arriving at the Auckland Art Galley for the first Unfolding.
Her Excellency, Dame Catherine Tizard, Governor General arrives, accompanied by Darren Horn, Convenor of the New Zealand Quilt Project.

Photo of the Official Party at the First Unfolding.
The Official Party (seated in the front row) was Libby Woodhams, Convenor of the Australian Quilt Project, Her Excellency, Dame Catherine Tizard, Governor General, and Darren Horn, Convenor of the New Zealand Quilt Project.

Photo of the people who read the names of those remembered on the Quilts.
The readers who read the names of those remembered on the Blocks as the Blocks were unfolded.

Photo of the flautists playing.
Musical accompaniment for the evening was provided by these two flautists.

Three photos showing the different stages of Unfolding a Block:
Photo of a Block being unfolded.

Photo of a Block being unfolded.

Photo of a Block being unfolded.

Two photos of another Block being unfolded:
Photo of a Block being unfolded.

Photo of a Block being unfolded.

Note that the arrangement of the Panels on the New Zealand Blocks was different for these first Blocks in these photos. The Blocks were re-assembled in the present arrangement shortly after the first Unfolding.

With the design of the Auckland Art Gallery, some Blocks were laid out on the floor while others were hung off the balcony of the floor above so they could be seen from below.

Photo of people watching one of the Blocks being unfolded from the balcony of the second floor.
All eyes up as one of the Blocks is unfolded from the upper level balcony.

Photo of people watching one of the Blocks being unfolded from the balcony of the second floor.

Photo of one of the Australian Blocks being unfolded from the upstairs balcony
One of the Australian Blocks being unfolded from the upstairs balcony.

Photo of an Australian Block hanging from the upstairs Balcony.
An Australian Block hanging from the upstairs Balcony.

Photo of an Australian Block hanging from the upstairs Balcony.
Another Australian Block on display.

Photo of the start of the Unfolding.
A general view at the start of the Unfolding. Note the Block on the balcony ready to unfold (in the top left hand corner of the photo).

Photo of the Unfolding under way
Another one of the Blocks being unfolded.

Photo looking at the Blocks hanging from the balcony, from one end of the balcony.
Looking at the Blocks hanging from the balcony, from one end of the balcony.

Photo looking down onto one of the new New Zealand Blocks.
Looking down onto one of the new New Zealand Blocks.

Photo looking down onto one of the new New Zealand Blocks.
Looking down onto one of the new New Zealand Blocks.

Photo looking down onto one of the new New Zealand Blocks.
Looking down onto one of the new New Zealand Blocks.

Photo looking down onto one of the new New Zealand Blocks.
Looking down onto one of the new New Zealand Blocks.

Photo of he near empty supper tables.
Supper didn't stay on the table for long.

Photo of the sales and donations area at the Unfolding.
T-shirts and other mementoes were available to purchase to help with funding.

Photo of the clean-up crew getting ready to leave and set up for the next Display, the following day.
At the end of the night, The Quilt was taken down, re-folded and then taken to its first full Public Display two days later at Auckland's Aotea Centre.

Photos of this display can be found here.

 

Among the records, we have a copy of the speech that Libby made at the Unfolding. It is reproduced here.
The first time I visited New Zealand, I was not prepared for how beautiful it was. My first visit came at a time when my first Ankali client had just died. I was in need of care, love and replenishment. The beauty of the New Zealand people and the New Zealand landscape did that for me.

There are many panes on the Australian Quilt which remember New Zealanders who have died of AIDS in Australia. What is fascinating, and which pays tribute to the beautiful power of this country, is that so many of the panels remember also the shape of the soil, the mountains, the sea, the plants and th animals. But the landscape of any country is not always peaceful. New Zealand, as well as Australia, know only too well the tragedy of destruction - earthquakes, droughts, cyclones.

And so too, it is with The Quilt. The Quilt is teacher, par excellence. It is an object of great colour, power, beauty, courage and humour. At the same time it is a visible and tactile document which has sprung from great sorrow, anger, frustration loss - and most importantly perhaps, love and endurance. As Marc Chagall, the great painter, wrote:

"In art as well as life, anything is possible, provided there is Love.",

That we have to keep remembering. AIDS has irrevocably changed us. It has challenged us, and will continue to challenge us, to the very depths of our personal selves - and to the depths of ourselves as a community of nations. We have had to sustain multiple personal losses which are unparalleled in modern times. Each time a human being dies - so does part of us."

The first ten years of this epidemic has taught us much. But one of the important lessons, I believe, we have not learnt, is that conventional and traditional ways of thinking are not sufficient to halt the spread of AIDS, nor to care for the millions of people who are in need of political support, of housing, of medicines, and food.

At the same time, many of the responses to the AIDS epidemic have shown us what great beauty and creativity there is in the human spirit. One of the greatest demonstrations of that beauty and creativity is The Quilt. I am continually amazed and humbled by how radical is The Quilt. The Quilt employs and artistic and creative medium to show the humanity behind a set of AIDS statistics. Many people have felt alienated from artistic means of expression since they left the playgrounds of kindergarten. Yet something larger than the fear of creativity has produced these panels of fabric. As Chagall says:

What inspires paintings as well as colour, after all, is love.

And all along our experience of AIDS are the same choices between Love and fear; between Love and ignorance; between Love and ignorance; between Love and prejudice. The Quilt shows us the result of taking the risk of loving - beyond where we have, perhaps, ever been called to go.

Making a panel for The Quilt does many things:

  1. For us individuals and as part of small groups, in enables us to creatively express our grief and sadness at the loss of someone we have loved.
  2. Perhaps, as importantly, The Quilt draws us into an International community of people who share the same grief and loss. It draws us into solidarity with Dominic in India who was arrested and quarantined when it was discovered that he was HIV positive. Dominic is making a panel for another man who was quarantined at the same time but who has since died of AIDS. Dominic's panel will probably be the first panel in the Indian Names Project Memorial Quilt.
  3. It draws us into solidarity with Jack in Malaysia, who with his mother and a group of friends, has made a panel remembering the first 21 people who have died n Malaysia. Again this will be the first panel in what may become The Quilt Project, Malaysia, in spite of adverse religious and political attitudes of that country.
  4. It draws us into solidarity with a group of high school students in rural Australia who have made a panel for the Thai Quilt - simply because they wanted to show that they cared.

The humanity of The Quilt and its stories lays bare the obscenity of some of our Governments policies, trade embargoes and economic sanctions which prevent the sale of desperately needed medical supplies to countries like South Africa and Russia.

The Quilt, which can embrace panels for human beings from all countries of the world, calls us into something bigger - a more human and creative response to this global pandemic. Panels for an Australian Aborigine lie side by side with a panel remembering woman from Auckland, a child from San Francisco, a friend from Uganda. The love and courage which is evident in every stitch and brush stroke of these panels begs us to acknowledge that AIDS is bigger than our personal prejudices, our local jealousies and parochial attitudes. It is bigger, even, than our national and state boundaries.

In October 1992, the Names Project Quilt will return to Washington. The return will include, for the first time, panels from every country in the world. The return of The Quilt has been made necessary by the very fact that the numbers of people affected by the virus is steadily rising, and yet many people are acting as if the virus has disappeared. The growth of The Quilt is a sad testament to the ineffective or non existent policies in many countries of the world.

In the same way as Australian and New Zealanders have cared for each others sick, have buried each others dead, so too, we are called by the humanity of The Quilt to care for others, particularly those in our own Asian Pacific region.

In closing, I would like to share with you some words of Mother Teresa of Calcutta. These words, I believe, also speak of the power of people who have been touched by The Quilt.

"There is Light in this world, a healing Spirit more powerful than any darkness we may encounter. Sometimes we may loose sight of this force when there is suffering, too much pain. Then suddenly, the Spirit will emerge through the lives of ordinary people who hear a call and answer in extraordinary ways"

Libby Woodhams
5 October 1991.

 

Return to the top of this page

 

Home | History | Newsletters | Supporters | People Remembered | Quilt Blocks | Quilt Panels | Making a Panel | Hosting a Display | South Island School Displays | North Island School Displays | South Island Public Displays | North Island Public Displays | International Displays | 1992 tour of Northland | Digital Quilt | Contacting the NZ Quilt Project