Quilts 1700-2010 is a guide to an exhibition held at the Victoria & Albert Museum. It seems to be the didactic audio guide repurposed. The enterprising makers probably thought: “Let’s get some extra money by selling this content to quilting tragics as an iPhone app.” Fair enough, but if you want to make money off us iPhone owning quilting tragics not able to visit the V & A without a 24 hour plane ride, maybe at least edit out the voice over references to the next panel, just to pretend you know we’re not really at the exhibition.This app is collection of audios dressed as videos which show a still picture of the quilt being discussed with an earnest but descriptive voice-over and some curatorial comments. It drove me nuts that I couldn’t zoom in to see the detail during the video playback, but for some quilts there was a separate menu item for a picture of the quilt that you could pinch on to zoom. Too bad the resolution wasn’t better in the photos. The tone and content of the voice-overs for these photo elements sounded condescending to my adult ears, along the lines of, “Now zoom in and see how many different animals YOU can see.” Remember, I’m a quilting tragic, so I actually give a damn about this stuff.
Now for the good bit. I learned about a fascinating piece of history, thanks to this app. The Rajah Quilt which was made by convict women being transported to Tasmania, or Van Diemen’s Land as it was then. This group of prostitutes, thieves and other criminals was shipped off to Australia along with a couple of pounds of fabric and bucketloads of thread, a gift from British Ladies Society for the Reformation of Female Prisoners. It was either to help them pass the time on the long journey to Australia or because of a Victorian notion of the redemptive power of work, or maybe both.
Whatever the thinking behind the gift of the materials, the women of the convict ship Rajah made a beautiful medallion quilt. It’s apparently so delicate and so valuable that it’s only placed on exhibit once a year. Maybe that’s why I hadn’t heard of it before buying this app.
I’m glad I got to hear the story of The Rajah Quilt. That alone is worth $2.99.
Have a iPhone or iPod Touch? Read my review of the Block Tool App. It’s a good buy.