Clothes add dash to Highwic
An exhibition of historic fashion and accessories from the collections of the New Zealand Historic Places Trust is on display as part of Highwic's 150th anniversary celebrations.
Highwic manager Cheryl Laurie says the Fashion Treasures exhibition is a one-off event because it's the first time they have brought together items from three Northland Historic Trust properties as well as Highwic, Alberton and Ewelme in Auckland.
It runs until September 30.
The combined collection of historic clothing held by the trust is very significant and comparable in quantity to many cities' museums, guest curator Angela Lassig says.
Mrs Lassig has previously worked as senior curator of history at Te Papa Tongarewa and assistant curator of decorative arts at Auckland War Memorial Museum.
She says in contrast to museum exhibitions, it's been a thrill to display the clothing in a more authentic context.
"It's most appropriate and delightful . . . It gives the items proportion and a relationship to the furniture of the rooms," she says.
There are about 20 garments in the exhibition as well as a collection of purses and mourning jewellery which date from the settler period to the late 18th century.
"Besides showcasing some of the earliest clothing associated with the European history of New Zealand, we'll also be highlighting some stunning examples of fashionable clothing from the 1890s through to the 1920s which have been donated to the trust over the years," Mrs Lassig says.
One of the oldest garments in the exhibition is a man's white linen shirt dating from the early 1800s which was hand-sewn by Hannah Hansen in Australia for her husband-to-be John King.
They were some of New Zealand's earliest missionaries and settled in the Bay of Islands in 1814.
"It's a very humble working man's shirt but the workmanship is extraordinary. It should be considered a national treasure.
"When you look up close you can barely see the stitches but it's entirely hand-sewn.
"By way of contrast we are also showcasing some beautiful garments from the prosperous Victorian, Edwardian and Flapper eras, including clothes worn by descendants of Alfred Buckland, who built Highwic in 1862," she says.
Wherever possible, Mrs Lassig has made an effort to include contextual and biographical information about the wearer of each garment.
"The owners of the clothes generally come from the families associated with the houses, otherwise they may have been donated to someone in the house. Linking the clothing to a specific individual personalises the garments.
"I think the exhibition provides a good opportunity for people to take some time out to see original examples of some of New Zealand's formative fashion influences and to just appreciate our clothing and fashion heritage."
Highwic is open 10.30am till 4.30pm, Wednesday to Sunday, at Mortimer Pass, Newmarket. Phone 524 5729.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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