The War Widows Quilt: An Armed Forces Day Exhibition

On Saturday, 24 June 2023, in honour of Armed Forces Day, St George’s Hall, Liverpool, will host a special exhibition of the War Widows Quilt. Made by over ninety war widows and their families from armed forces shirts, the War Widows Quilt is a beautiful, moving piece of art that tells stories of love, loss, grief, and survival, and shines a much needed light on the lives of war widows in the UK, past and present.

At this second-ever exhibition of the Quilt, visitors will have a chance to discover its patches up close, meet lead artist Lois Blackburn and, try their hand at making their very own token dedicated to a loved one.

The War Widows Quilt is part of the War Widows Stories project, led by Dr Nadine Muller (Reader in Women’s and Gender Studies, Liverpool John Moores University) in partnership with the War Widows Association of Great Britain (WWA).

The event will be accompanied by the publication of a new edition of the War Widows Quilt exhibition book, which reveals what lies behind each of the Quilt’s patches, its making, and introduces the many life stories recorded by the project. The book will be available to visitors in return for a donation to the WWA.

Commenting on the forthcoming exhibition, Dr Muller said: “We first exhibited the War Widows Quilt in 2019, at the Queen’s House, Greenwich, after which, sadly, the global pandemic soon put a stop to our plans to tour the Quilt around the UK. This exhibition marks an important step in continuing the Quilt’s journey and in our mission to raise awareness of the challenges war widows face every day. The War Widows Quilt is a stunning testament to the strength and resilience of the women who have made it, the therapeutic effects of art and of making, and a reminder of the sacrifices made by our armed forces and their families.”

Lead artist Lois Blackburn reflects on her work on the Quilt: “Sewing together the pieces into a final quilt felt a giant responsibility, but one for which I remain very grateful. I selected fabrics that had been worn by the armed forces. I carefully took apart fifty military shirts to make patches and chose a patchwork technique that deliberately echoes the quilts made by British servicemen during the Crimean War”.

Mrs Mary Moreland, former Chair of the WWA, highlights the importance of this project for the Association, its members, and the wider armed forces community: “The quilt and the project help the Association raise awareness of the challenges war widows face every day. Our voices are sadly still absent from most accounts of war and conflict. We cannot tell the stories of war without the stories of those left behind.”

The exhibition is free to attend on Saturday, 24 June 2023, 10AM – 4PM at St George’s Hall, Liverpool. To mark this special occasion, a drinks reception will be held from 4:30-6:00PM. Tickets for the reception can be obtained here.

War Widows’ Stories is funded by Liverpool John Moores University, the Arts & Humanities Research Council, Arts Council England, the British Academy, and the Heritage Lottery Fund.


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