18
the ruyton reporter
Celebrating Ruyton’s Heritage
ARTISTIC DESIGN
Jennifer Seton
Margot Waters
CONTRIBUTORS
Amanda Starkins
Anna Daher
Candi Browne
Christina Gregurek
Claire Noonan
Erica Paine
Fiona Roberton
Gabrielle Kelly
JanWallace
Jennifer Seton
Jenny McDonald
Kia Cookson
Kim Baker
Liz Assetta
Mandy Farrell
Margot Waters
Maria Xeros
Sophia Constantinides-
Strugnell
2008
Questers Heritage Quilt
At the heart of Questers is a passion for art and a desire to
share the beauty and meaning of art with the Ruyton
community.
One of the wonderful things about Ruyton is the artwork
that appears in so many places around the grounds. In this
way, we have an environment through which the girls learn
to appreciate and value art as well as having an opportunity
to create it.
In recent years, Questers made it their mission to raise the
profile of embroidery, quilting and appliqué in art forms.The
result is the 2008 Questers Heritage Quilt – a beautiful and
intricate piece of art which depicts and celebrates Ruyton’s
rich history.
Jennifer Seton
and
Mandy Farrell
have shared with the
Ruyton Reporter the process behind the quilt from concept
to completion.
Jennifer Seton
and
Margot Waters
drew inspiration for the
artistic design of the quilt from the qualities of Ruyton.The pair
felt the quilt should reflect the beauty of the school grounds,
feature recognisable buildings and carry some aspects of
femininity. Above all, the women felt the quilt should focus
largely on the students of Ruyton both past and present.
Jennifer recalls,“we thought this would pay homage to the
fact that Ruyton is one of the oldest schools in Melbourne,
has a great sense of its own history and yet still has a place in
the education of girls today.” She pointed out that as “you
look at the quilt from left to right you can see the changing
nature of the students and buildings and marvel at how
much the times have changed.”
The Questers quilters drew upon material from the Archives
to find images that depicted the story of student life in
different times. In this way, scenes depicting old fashioned
picnics on the oval,The Pagoda and horse drawn carts appear
alongside the current music school, the Ruyton Aquatic
Centre and students using new technology.
Despite this emphasis of change and development, the quilt
also captures the permanence of the Moreton Bay Fig Tree.
A symbol of Ruyton’s longevity and sense of community, the
fig tree and its sheltering branches and leaves adorn a
number of scenes on the quilt, seamlessly linking the past
with the present.
The quilt is the result of the four year collaboration of twenty
volunteers and a testament to the strong sense of community
at Ruyton. Volunteers were given an image to complete and
were then at liberty to use whatever techniques they liked. In
this way, each image is also a reflection of the various
personalities of the volunteers.
The quilt is made from silk dupion and mercerised cotton
thread. Most of the work is hand embroidered or hand
appliquéd, with some areas being sewn by machine.
The 2008 Questers Heritage Quilt proudly hangs in Henty
House outside Ms Douglas’ study. Students, staff and
members of the Ruyton community have already spent some
time admiring the intricate detail of the quilt and learning
about the stories behind each image. Ruyton thanks Questers
for this beautiful gift to the School.
The Pagoda
One particular section of the quilt portrays The Pagoda. Over recent
times there has been much interest in the long gone Pagoda.
New evidence has been found that might in fact verify its origins.
An advertisement in The Argus on 17 June 1881 described a Burmese
teak pagoda from the 1880 Melbourne International Exhibition as
for sale ‘at less than quarter original cost’. Henry Henty is said to
have bought his pagoda from this Exhibition. In 1920, Ruyton Girls’
School purchased Mr Henty’s land and house.The girls subsequently
christened the existing tea house,The Pagoda. It stood a few metres
south of what is now the Gillies Building.
In 1995, the Ruyton Reporter stated that ‘although repeatedly
described as a Burmese Temple, the structure appears to have been
a traditional ah-yone laban or pavilion built to house a Buddha
image. It survived at Kew at least until the early 1940’s when,
according to one account, it was destroyed to make way for trenches
dug at Ruyton against the possibility of Japanese invasion.’Another
account speculates that the Pagoda was removed to make way
for an enlarged hockey field.
Fortunately, remnants of the Pagoda have survived and are framed
outside the Senior School Office. Our thanks to
Mandy Farrell
for
her continuing research. Mandy and I would welcome any
recollections about the Pagoda and the trenches.
Mr Trevor Hart,
School Archivist