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HIV/AIDS Quilt memorial website goes online

Wed 5 May 2010 In: New Zealand Daily News View at Wayback

A website displaying 139 quilts created in memory of New Zealanders, mostly gay men, who have died due to AIDS has gone online. Two quilt panels Quilt making was a response to the huge death rate in the late 1980s and early 1990s with family and friends of those killed by the incurable disease came together to grieve. Initially a community organisation called The Quilt Project oversaw the storage and occasional display of the quilt panels but recently concerns have grown that individual panels were showing signs of wear and tear and that there was no long-term plan for their safe storage or for public accessibility. Fewer people were volunteering to help oversee the quilts which must be stored, transported and periodically cleaned. “The web site was created as a permanent record of The Quilt and a way of remembering all those who have gone before their time because of HIV/AIDS,” says Michael Bancroft, the current Guardian of the Quilt. “It gives the family and friends who were left behind a way to add their own thoughts to those already expressed on the panels or to remember those who do not have a panel on The Quilt.” Last year all of the panels were photographed by Gareth Watkins and his partner Roger Smith in preparation for the website which was created by Nelson man Kevin Jensen. Jensen has been associated with The AIDS Quilt and displaying it since 1994. The web site also includes a history of The New Zealand Quilt which began in 1988 and information on how to make a panel. All of the current panels can be viewed online or downloaded as a high-resolution image.  Web site users can also add comments or create a new web-only memorial panel. “The Quilt has become a valuable resource that helps encourage both compassion and personal response” says Bancroft. “By presenting the human face behind the statistics it creates an emotional response and provides an educational opportunity.” Bancroft says he is considering a number of options for the long-term physical storage of the quilts. He is still happy to accept quilts already made or new quilts and guidelines for making twe quilt panels can be found on the new website.    

Credit: Daily News staff

First published: Wednesday, 5th May 2010 - 3:05pm

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