Waikato Wahine: Louisa Higginson

Telling Stories: Waikato Wāhine is an exploration into the lives of trailblazing Waikato women. Over five weeks I will tell the stories of a politician, businesswomen, artist, activist and Te Ao Maori leader

This week: In this special Anzac commemorative episode historian and author Jane Tolerton talks about the role of women in the war – before Kelli uncovers the story of Louisa Higginson, a Waikato nurse who paid her own way to London before signing up to serve in Malta and Egypt.

Telling Stories: Waikato Wāhine airs 5pm Tuesday on Free FM 89.0;
 live streamed via the Access Internet Radio NZ app, via TuneIn or from freefm.org.nz or listen to the podcast right now via this link

http://bit.do/WaikatoWomen-LouisaHiggonson

This Free FM series is supported by the Ministry for Women, New Zealand Suffrage 125 community fund and Browsers Bookshop in Hamilton.



Advertisements

Waikato wāhine: Adele Younghusband

Telling Stories: Waikato Wāhine is an exploration into the lives of trailblazing Waikato women. Over five weeks I will tell the stories of a politician, businesswomen, artist, activist and Te Ao Maori leader.

This week: Adele Younghusband was a photographer, artist and arts advocate who led a fascinating life – making her mark in the Waikato, Whangarei and Auckland.

Telling Stories: Waikato Wāhine airs 5pm Tuesday on Free FM 89.0;
 live streamed via the Access Internet Radio NZ app, via TuneIn or from freefm.org.nz

or listen to the podcast right now via this link
http://bit.do/WaikatoWahine-AdeleYounghusband

This Free FM series is supported by the Ministry for Women, New Zealand Suffrage 125 community fund and Browsers Bookshop in Hamilton.

Waikato Wahine: Mary Innes

Telling Stories: Waikato Wāhine is an exploration into the lives of trailblazing Waikato women. Over five weeks I will tell the stories of a politician, businesswomen, artist, activist and Te Ao Maori leader.

Podcast link http://bit.do/WaikatoWahine-MaryInnes

This week: Mary Innes was one of Hamilton’s first businesswomen – she saved two breweries from bankruptcy and passed on a business legacy for her sons and the city.

Telling Stories: Waikato Wāhine is on throughout April on Free FM 89.0 at 5pm 📲 live streamed via the Access Internet Radio NZ app, via TuneIn or from freefm.org.nz

or listen to the podcast right now via this link
http://bit.do/WaikatoWahine-MaryInnes

This Free FM series is supported by the Ministry for Women, New Zealand Suffrage 125 community fund and Browsers Bookshop in Hamilton.

Have yourself an as ethical as possible Christmas

Published first in Hamilton News 7 December 2018

Have you seen that cartoon with Santa taking his sleigh of gifts straight to landfill called ‘Cutting out the middle man’?. Sadly this is reality and it’s not good for Papatūānuku or our wallet.

santa-landfill

I don’t want to sound like the Christmas Grinch but, I do worry about the pressure Christmas puts on us to buy gifts that we can’t really afford and then have them end up in landfill in the next spring clean.  Where is the sense in that?

Most of us don’t have dedicated funds to call upon at this time of the year and clock up credit card debt, skip bills or do without to get through.  Yet we do it, every year – because we want our loved ones to know we care…  It’s human nature and it’s habit.  But, I’m calling on Hamiltonians to make some small changes this year for an ‘as ethical as possible Christmas’.

Consider buying secondhand or “vintage”, diverting quality, unique items from landfill, supporting charity and saving you loads of money.  You’ll be amazed at what you can find at the Dump shop, or Sallies.  Spit, polish and wrap.

A little bit crafty? Make something useful like a reusable bag or produce bags from an old t-shirt or fabric lying around.  Youtube has numerous DIY videos to help you out.  Your friends and whanau will appreciate it immensely in less than 6 months when the plastic ban kicks in. Yipee on that.

Our tamariki will remember that time they went to the zoo, movie or theatre more than they will another expensive plastic toy.  Make memories not waste.  I know that 90% of the fun is unwrapping, so make a game of it. But remember that foil wrapping paper isn’t recyclable so stick to the paper stuff (which is cheaper anyway).

I also think it’s time we called ‘time’ on the dreaded workplace Secret-Santa. It’s always novelty crap that has no function.  Why not change your workplace tradition to be $5 or $10 towards a charity, you agree on. Win Win.

Christmas doesn’t have to be about debt, gifts destined to landfill and stress. But, it will take some changes.  What will you do differently this year?

 

Wendy Ganley: 1960’s Fashion Designer

The story of a 21 year old Hamiltonian, opening her own fashion boutique on Victoria street, caught my attention.  That it happened back in the 1960’s, fascinated me even more for the vision, gumption, passion and dedication it would have taken to succeed.  It was a privilege to hear Wendy Hall nee Ganley of Elle boutique talk about her early career during an event at the Waikato Museum / Te Whare Taonga o Waikato on Sunday.  The exhibition showcasing her work, “Elle & the Youthquake” was curated with the New Zealand Fashion Museum and runs until the 14th of October.

Take a sneak peek here…

A visit to the exhibition will take some of you back in time… and for the retro-curious like me, have you swooning over the display of 1960’s clothing we spend hours scouring op-shops for today.  I’ve got a little collection of dresses in the mod style which I’ve collected over the years – it’s difficult to find them in my size, but I find the shape flattering and the colour and patterns fun.

Sunday’s conversation was facilitated by Doris de Pont, a fellow designer and Director of the New Zealand Fashion Museum in front of over 40 people.

39454434_10155678253717997_3978703333299847168_n39568543_674917559544817_1887681514351624192_n

Wendy started out by making clothes for dolls, herself and friends.  After finishing school she contemplated what might be next; and while peers may have followed a path in nursing or teaching she decided to follow her love of design, textiles and colour.  The decision was fortunate for Hamilton, which could have been forgotten as a trend setter for fashion in those days.  Because trend setter she was!  Hems were getting higher, she was cutting holes out of the midriff, using crochet loops to make her version of a fur coat and combining colours not previous paired.

She shared her love of colour, showing off the bright orange lining on the inside of her cream wedding suit – which is in the exhibition (bottom left of the photo above).  Orange has been her favourite colour though points out it doesn’t look as good on her as it used to… I’m not sure if I believe this, I get the sense when looking at her that she would still get away with it – as stylish as she has remained.

Society was changing in the 1960’s.  Youth were no longer restricted by pre-war conservatism and more women were in the workforce, giving many of us discretionary income for the first time.   In fact, one member of the audience and one of Wendy’s first customers, an ex-nurse, recalls spending “all her pay” in Elle boutique, while other’s nodded in familiarity at lay-buying their latest desires. Many of these items still hang in their wardrobes.

Another theme, coming from stories of Wendy’s early career was the industry support given to her by fellow designers and given to others in return.  Wendy learnt couture from Babs Radon in Auckland, and mentored Marilyn Sainty in return here in Hamilton.  It was through working with Barbara Penberthy of Babs Radon that she was able to see how balancing motherhood and a career could work; through setting up a space for ‘the babies’ in her Frankton workshop.

Wendy was able to share her original sample books with the audience, which showed the textile swatches she had to choose from – and the designs and combinations used to make her clothing and accessories.  I was really surprised each item was a one off – she explained there wasn’t the same awareness of economies of scale; customers wouldn’t want to be seen at the races in the same outfit as someone else and besides, it wouldn’t have been fun mass producing them that way anyway!

Before trade was opened up in the 1980’s New Zealand wasn’t inundated by cheap imported clothing; or “fast fashion” as we are now.  Buyers consumed fashion under the kaupapa of “Buy once, Buy well”.  Quality over Quantity.  These garments were often one of a kind, hand made and of high quality, particularly with New Zealand wool a common textile to use.   Collectors like myself can attest to this enduring quality – with it not being uncommon to find an immaculate 1960s dress or suit in an opshop (they obviously knew how to follow “care instructions” unlike me).

Inevitably it got me thinking about how different things are now, and most notably in comparison to fast fashion.  Will there ever be a resurgence of NZ made clothing? Will we look back some time in the future and pin point the time when we started to “Buy once, Buy well” rather than base a decision on low cost and quantity.  Will we look back in 50 years and know who our local designers were?

We are not paying “The True Cost” #fashionrevolution

The Waikato Museum / Te Whare Taonga o Waikato has booklets about the exhibition available in their shop for $15.

 

 

 

Kitsch: Why I can’t do minimalism.

14358877_912877382190374_8189396464770875326_n.jpg

I blame my love of kitsch for my inability to be a Minimalist.  The concept of being a Minimalist is bang on… I understand the benefit of keeping things simple, keeping the feng shui moving around the house and feeling more liberated with less stuff – but it’s just not for me.

Sometimes I call myself a vintage collector, sometimes a hunter gatherer and sometimes a hoarder.  Either way – if this beautiful stuff didn’t make me happy I  might have been  the type of person who could thrive with bare minimal possessions… I could live in a house that looked like everyone else’s and was easy to clean… but I choose to surround myself with beautiful stuff.

Beautiful might be a stretch…  You see, I have a thing for kitsch.

Kitsch is defined as “art, objects, or design considered to be in poor taste because of excessive garishness or sentimentality, but sometimes appreciated in an ironic or knowing way”.

DSCF2245

I should be ashamed of it – the tackiness of it.  But I’m not.  Part of me is proud of saving this stuff (that has stood the test of time) from landfill.  Part of me is proud of having a unique home that was sourced for next to no money from opshops.  Most of our decor is 1950s-1970’s so there’s stories with pretty much everything we have.  Not even just our stories but other people’s stories – passed on at garage sales; markets or through nostalgia for a common item. I should be ashamed of spending our little disposable income on stuff… but I’m not.

DSCF2251

As you can see – one of my kitsch collections is shell art.  Everyone seemed to make random little shell objects back in the day including most tourist shops…  My particular favourite in that image is the mermaid.

Shells aren’t the only kitsch thing I love though…

14533477_1614634142171129_4631795987315163136_n

Queen Elizabeth II; Ballerinas (Carlotta Edwards); Ducks/Swans (Vernon Ward) and Religious icons were all really popular in the 1950’s.  So there’s lots of those sprinkled around our house.  The vintage ballerina alarm clock was my Great-Grandmother ‘s so it’s extra special.  Ella’s not allowed to touch it.

There’s a religious corner – and a “bad taste” (often considered racist) shelf -with my favourite pieces of German Pottery (not kitsch – but of the era).  That’s only a smidgy part of that collection – I’m fond of Black African lady ornaments – one of my ‘prized possessions’ is a lamp that one of my Teacup customers tipped me off about after she saw it at Restore (Bryant Road).  Speaking of “racist” memorabilia.  Native Affairs shared this article earlier in the week.  “Aboriginalia and the politics of kitsch”.  It was interesting – but hasn’t made me hide the pieces I have.

DSCF2283.JPG

17127066_1826173580982212_7753510820868259840_n

You guessed it, the kitsch spills outside.  I took these to show Ian Duggan who wrote this article about gnomes in New Zealand gardens… Well worth a read.  The one at the front (who is missing his fishing line) was James’s Grandmother’s and the one with the watering can was my Nana’s (we brought it up in our luggage from Dunedin after finding it lonely in the yard after her house was sold).  Needless to say – the dump has given us even more friends.

So – kitsch.  It’s the reason I can’t do minimalism.   I would love to see your kitschy items!! Please feel free to share your photos and stories with me.

 

What is it about retro?

This Saturday Hamilton will enjoy it’s biggest Retro fair of the year.  The 6th annual Waikato Mid-Winter Retro fair runs from 9-3pm at the Chartwell Church Hall, 124 Comries Road. Hamilton.  With free entry, plenty of parking and over 20 exhibitors cramming anything and everything you can think of into a hall, there’s no excuse for missing it.  Prices are reasonable, and whether as a trip down memory lane or a hard-core mission to find the perfect seat for the lounge, or missing plate to a set, you won’t be disappointed.

13726827_975022479263176_1829658327097398065_n

But, what is it about retro?  Retro is technically products made between 1950-1970… (the 80’s is starting to be included).  For some people, something which is ‘just an old chair’ will be the gorgeous Scandinavian inspired recliner, handmade in New Zealand in the 1960’s that someone else desperately wants.  The wood is better quality… (it’s ACTUAL wood as opposed to wheatbix); the craftmanship is superior – and the style is sleek, modern but completely practical – and comfortable.  Remember that gawdy orange, yellow and green Tupperware?  We want it… they literally last a life-time and are so practical.  It’s down to quality again.

497652671

Some of us will flock to decor.  I personally, cannot resist looking at pictures, clocks, lamps and small furniture.  They’re the items that make our house a home.  Sometimes it comes down to subject matter, a theme, a colour which suits your decor or just because it’s $5.  Sometimes the picture that we like will also hold fond memories.  Perhaps that same framed picture hung in your Nana’s house, perhaps someone else inherited it, when you would have secretly liked it.  Now’s your chance to find it.

retrocover

Over the last few years I have found that the items that create the most nostalgia for people is kitchenalia.  It’s’ your Crown Lynn plates, glass decanters, 50’s cake mixers (that last a life-time); wooden handled utensils, kitsch cake tins and eggcups.  So many eggcups.

While some collectables are the exception, despite retro products being better quality they are often cheaper than the reproduction items you’ll find in chain stores.  You’ll find the “real deal” and save money.  That’s not to mention the benefit of re-using already existing items – which is way better for the environment.

What is it about retro?  It’s the quality, style and price/environmental benefits.  But, a huge part of that appeal is the recognition, feeling and nostalgia that comes from finding – and taking home something you associate with loved ones.