The Quilt: Echoes & Memories
Together with Queer Culture Ireland, we are excited to announce our new exhibition “The Quilt: Echoes & Memories” (1 December – 31 December 2020). Launching on World AIDS Day, this new exhibition takes place at Filmbase in Temple Bar and focuses on HIV/AIDS history.
The Story of the Irish Names Quilt
In November 1985, Clive Jones, learned that over 1,000 San Franciscans had died of AIDS. At the time, the gay rights activist was planning a march in honour of Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk, and he decided to ask marchers to write the names of these AIDS victims on placards, which were later mounted on the San Francisco Federal Building. Placed side by side, the placards resembled a patchwork quilt, which inspired Jones to organise another, bigger commemoration.
This resulted in the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt, and the first Quilt was displayed on 11 October 1987 on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. as part of the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay rights. By 1989 the Quilt had inspired activists in over twenty countries to launch their own AIDS Quilt, with Ireland following suit in May 1990.
The first panel of the Irish AIDS Quilt was officially displayed at the Dublin AIDS Action Alliance officers in Parnell Street on 11 July 1990. This panel was dedicated to Joe Carthy who had died from AIDS on 17 January 1990. In October 1990, as part of the 35th Cork Film Festival, the Irish AIDS Quilt featuring Joe’s panel was launched.
On 13 January 1991, in a solemn and moving ceremony at the Mansion House in Dublin the Irish AIDS Quilt Tour was officially launched, and between 13 January 1991 and 12 February 1991, the Irish AIDS Quilt travelled from Dublin to Cork, Limerick, Derry, Galway, before finishing up in Belfast. The tour sought to increase public awareness of the human dimensions of AIDS in Ireland, promote a compassionate response to the problem and those directly affected, and raise much needed funds for voluntary groups. The tour comprised 15 quilts (each quilt contained eight panels dedicated to an individual), two of which were Irish, and the others were quilts from the USA and Britain. At each venue the exhibition was opened and closed with a moving ceremony at which the names of each individual on the quilt was called out and flowers then laid on their panels.