Exhibition celebrates 30 years of Fibre Spectrum
A group of fibre artists who formed as Fibre Spectrum in 1987 are celebrating 30 years in business with an exhibition this month. Titled Fibre Spectrum Celebrating 30 Years, it features a selection of work by current members, including knitting, weaving and felting.
In June 1987 a group of ten weavers, graduates from the then Nelson Polytechnic (now NMIT) School of Weaving, took on the lease of a shop at 280 Trafalgar Street and have continued to grow and sell their hand made work.
At this time there was already Seven Weavers in Collingwood St and Focsle Weavers in Selwyn Place also operating as cooperatives selling weaving. These two businesses have long gone, so what's the secret to Fibre Spectrum's success?
Founding member Mary Andrews puts it down to meeting the demands of a changing market place while selling products that are purely natural and locally made.
"Fibre Spectrum has survived the years by having a diverse group of members who still have a common thread ( pun intended) and (are) passionate about their own work and the benefits of our main street premises to show off our craft," Andrews says.
She adds that being a member within a group of experienced and enthusiastic fibre artists has enhanced her work and offered a place to connect directly with customers.
"When I joined I was one of the youngest with a few being 15-20yrs older than myself," Andrews says. "I loved having such good role models not only about craft, but also the great values these women showed to me."
Diane Harris joined the collective in the early 90s as a knitter, specialising in making jumpers and jerseys, using alpaca, possum and merino wools. She says the members are all like a big family, sharing a common interest, while always evolving with the times.
"Our success has been because we are changing our product all the time, making new things to suit all tastes; there's nothing imported from China, everything is from Nelson," Harris says. "We get a lot of repeat customers who love natural fibres, especially overseas visitors who seek us out."
Each month a non-member guest artist is featured in an exhibition within the shop which brings many visitors in who may never have been before.
At present the collective has nine members and they are seeking one or two new fibre artists to join the group.
Celebrations aside, it's back to work for this group of industrious individuals who have shaped Fibre Spectrum into the success story it is today.
Fibre Spectrum Celebrating 30 Years, Fibre Spectrum, 280 Trafalgar Street, Nelson, open Monday to Friday 9am - 5.30pm and Saturday 10am - 2pm. www.fibrespectrum.co.nz