The War Widows Quilt to be displayed on Armed Forces Day in Liverpool



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, part of the War Widows Stories project led by LJMU academic Dr Nadine Muller.

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 patch dedicated to a loved one.

War Widows Stories project

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).

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 said: “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, said: “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.”

Visiting times and new book

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.

The exhibition is free to attend on Saturday 24 June 2023, 10am to 4pm at St George’s Hall, Liverpool. To mark this special occasion, a drinks reception will be held from 4.30pm to 6pm. Tickets for the reception can be obtained through Eventbrite.

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

Read our feature from 2019 with Dr Muller explaining how the project came about.

LJMU’s support for the Armed Forces community

Dr Muller also sits on LJMU’s cross-university Armed Forces Steering Group, which brings together colleagues across all factions of the university to drive forwards everything from research to HR policy development to better support students and staff from the Armed Forces community, and to create positive change for the community across the UK.

Find out more about LJMU’s pledge to the Armed Forces community.



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