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About / History

A brief history of The Quilt Association

The 1980s

1985: There was an exhibition of quilts from Ron Simpson’s collection in the Old Market Hall in Llanidloes. It was featured in the first issue of Patchwork & Quilting magazine. 

The 1990s

1995: A decade later a group of friends worked to set up the first major summer exhibition of antique quilts, again based on Ron Simpson’s collection. It was called, simply, “Welsh Quilts.” The Minerva Garage, a former showroom and working garage, was rented for the purpose, along with other venues in Llanidloes. Summer quilt exhibitions have taken place annually since then, and until 2001 were based around Ron Simpson’s extensive collection.

The quilt group Welsh Heritage Quilters was established and began meeting regularly in Llanidloes, eventually settling at The Minerva Arts Centre for a weekly Wednesday afternoon meeting.

1996: The Quilt Association was established as a charity and company limited by guarantee. A feasibility study was carried out to consider setting up a permanent centre for patchwork quilts and textile arts and crafts in Llanidloes.

1998: Funds were eventually found from the European Union, Powys County Council, Llanidloes Town Council and private donors to buy The Minerva Garage. The property, renamed as The Minerva Arts Centre, has two exhibition spaces, each approximately 200 square metres – suitable for one large exhibition or if subdivided for several smaller ones. There is a flat above Gallery 1 and a small garden at the rear.

1999: Work started on the building to make it more suitable to its new purpose.

The first quilts were donated to The Quilt Association, followed by many more in subsequent years. Others have been purchased to fill gaps in the collection.

The 21st century

2000: Most of the building was reroofed, and a new front facade created.

2001: Gallery 1 – insulation and heating system installed.

2003: Gallery 2 – floor renovated. A publicity officer was employed for one day a week, until 2007, with European Union funding.

When not used by The Quilt Association for exhibitions, the Centre is hired out to a diverse range of other groups for events such as exhibitions, talks, fairs, meetings and workshops.

2004: The Quilt Association celebrated ten years of exhibiting with its “Celebrating Ten” summer exhibition.

Installation of the prototype section of the Scottish parliament reception desk, made by David Colwell.

2005: Shop refurbishment at the entrance to Gallery 1 with funding from Powys County Council.

2007: Grant from the Laura Ashley Foundation for new sewing machines to facilitate workshops.

2008: Awards for All lottery grant received to catalogue the growing collection of antique quilts.

Photovoltaic panels installed on Gallery 2 roof to generate electricity for the Centre. Additional insulation was added to this exhibition area. A new accessible toilet was installed at the rear of Gallery 1. The work was made possible by European funding, the Low Carbon Buildings programme and Potters Waste Management.

2009: Awards for All lottery grant received for Quilt Detectives project – in depth research on quilts from the collection.

The central heating system was extended to incorporate Gallery 2.

Funding was received from the Powys County Council Community Welcome Scheme to create a logo for The Quilt Association, and a brand new website.

2010: The Quilt Association was awarded £5,000 from Potters Waste Management for the Lighting Up Minerva project, more here.

2011: The British Quilt Study Group annual weekend seminar was held in Mid Wales with a visit to The Quilt Association's heritage collection in Llanidloes. More here.

2012: Ashley Family Foundation grant received for a three year education project. Our Education Project Officer started in the Autumn, more here.

The first City & Guild students enrolled on our Level 2 Patchwork & Applique course, more here.

2013: Jean Pegg took over from Andy Warren as the new Chair of The Quilt Association, and the exterior of the Minerva Arts Centre had a makeover. More here.

2014: The Quilt Association celebrates Turning Twenty with its 20th summer quilt exhibition. More here.