HistoryThe maker of this quilt is unknown but the remnant comes from a quilt made in Smyrna (now called Izmir) Turkey c. 1900. The quilt was owned by Aikaterini (Antonopoulou) Pholeros of Smyrna. It then passed to her daughter Evelyn McLeod and is now owned by Evelyn's daughter Catherine Llewelyn-Smith.
This quilt remnant comes from the once-great city of Smyrna, now called Izmir, in Turkey, where Greeks had lived for hundreds of years, probably even back to 1000 BC and through the time of Alexander the Great. At the beginning of the C20th, Smyrna was a big, prosperous, Greek city. The quilt belonged to Aikaterini Antonopoulo whose father was the head of Lloyd Triestino Shipping company in Smyrna. She married Frank Pholero (born 1891) in Parkes NSW, son of Angleo Pholero of Smyrna who came to Australia in about 1870 and became Australia's first Greek Vice Consul. Frank Pholero had become a senior official of the Anglo-Eastern Railway Company in Smyrna. His position there ended abruptly during the 'great catastrophe' of 1922 when, as a result of the terrible hostilities between Greece and Turkey, the city was torched and burned, thousands were killed, and over one million refugees poured into Greece. Aikaterini and family fled, leaving behind their house and all possessions. Eventually, they arrived in Australia as penniless refugees, having spent almost two years on the island of Malta. At some time after fleeing Smyrna, Aikaterini received a parcel from Turkey. It seems that a maid she employed had managed to rescue a few items from their house in Smyrna and send them on; among them this piece (perhaps the centre-piece of the original bedspread) and the family photo. Although not much else is known about the quilt, it can probably be assumed that, in true Greek tradition, the bedspread had been made especially for Aikaterini's prika (dowry), or that it may have been handed down to her through the family. The silk fabric and rich, gold embroidery certainly reflect the well-off position which the family would have enjoyed in Smyrna's 'pre catastrophe' days.
This remnant has been passed down through Aikaterini's daughter Evelyn McLeod, to her daughter Catherine, who with husband David Llewelyn-Smith have two daughters, Victoria and Rebecca.
[Written by Lula Saunders, adapted from interview 14 March 2000 for the National Quilt Register]
DescriptionQuilt remnant. This piece of the top is hand embroidered in gold thread on a background of burgundy silk in a traditional style still practised by Greek women today. The backing is white and probably cotton or linen.
940 x 430 mm