Wellington Museum Exhibition

As we slowly moved into the the exhibition there was no talking but more gasps at the shear scale of this exhibition. 546 panels stitched by over 600 people. After 125 years these women are still treasured for their hardship, resilience and determination, this is their memory.

I shed a tear looking from one panel to the next. It was overwhelming as each one seemed to find a voice.

I cherish this moment and congratulate every single person who was involved especially Caroline O’Reilly.

Thanks also to Wendy Welsh and Ryan Jennings for some of the photos

Its open until 31 August at the Wellington Museum.

Stitches with a Difference

When something wears out you either repair, replace or renew. I've played a lot of sport and my knee has suffered various injuries.

These injuries were something a plaster wouldn’t fix so in March I had a knee replacement.

My surgeon could well become the invisible stitcher. A running stitch with dissolving thread.

Recently my artwork has included many varieties of stitches as I learn to embroider.

4 months later and I’m still recovering.

Motivation is not high up on the list for finishing a project I started quite a few months ago.


Suffrage in Stitches Part 2

This great initiative organised by St Vinnies in Wellington saw me busy over Christmas. I've enjoyed every stitch and bonded with Jessie pollock very early on.

My process is about making a beginning and things develop from there. Using raw threads shows the workings of the piece.

I have a stash of treasured stuff that is very old and fitted perfectly into the vintage theme. I’m grateful for the donations from friends when tidying their cupboards.  The tatting came from my late Mother’s sewing box. It had a label DIC 2/6d and i used her embroidery thread. The blanket for the nurturing all the women did.

I contacted her Grandson and this is his recollection.

 " Jessie Pollock was born in 1863 Jessie married twice.  The first, against her mother’s wishes when she was about 22, in 1886. Henry was a scion of an English clerical family of some repute, but had been sent to the colonies to redeem himself, it would appear. His occupation was given as bottler on the marriage certificate, so presumably he was working in a brewery.. The marriage ceremony was given publicity in the local papers in Dunedin, as the bride wept throughout the ceremony, and having said “I do”, dashed out to the graveyard area accompanied by her puzzled spouse and they spent the the next few hours discussing matters. The upshot was that she went back to her mother! 5 years later in 1891, she divorced him, amid attendant publicity in the local Otago Witness paper, and later had, at age 33, a very successful marriage to Bob Garrett.  Nothing of this earlier marriage was ever talked about in the family. Indeed, it was only when we were examining the marriage certificate between Bob and Jessie that we noticed that she was defined as “divorced” rather than the usual spinster! This set us off on a hunt to discover what had taken place. She is reputed to have met Bob whilst out riding a horse along the banks of the Taieri River, Mosgiel area. She ducked her head to go under a tree branch, insufficiently as it turned out ,and off came her bonnet.  Bob was minding his own business, sitting by the river bank, and laughed at her embarrassment. Jessie turned her steed around and proceeded to to give Bob her opinion of people who laugh at others’ misfortune. So!  Bob picked up her hat and thus she went and married him! Jessie did have strong opinions, regarding Temperance, and Suffrage, and worked to improve the lot of women in general.  She and her mother both signed the petition. She wrote to the ODT, under the pen name of Lola, on numerous occasions.”

Thanks to Malcom Garrett her Grandson for the information. 

view the link for more information. 


Jessie and her mother Janet appear on sheet 86 

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Introducing Jessie Pollock

There’s something about being part of a large group creating something special. I have been working on a panel for an exhibition along with many hundreds of people. What a mission for the organisers of ‘Suffrage in Stitches.’

Each person or group selects or is given a women, who signed the Votes for Women petition in 1893. Using a piece of recycled 100% cotton white sheet 50cm x 75cm as a base.

The finished panel size to be 21.5cm x 55.5cm long.

I love a challenge so my journey began. Introducing Jessie Pollock. Each piece has a meaning but more on that in my next post.


2019 Really! I got in a bit earlier with my New Year Resolutions and on November 18th I retrieved an old A5 blank page book from my stash of things I might someday use. I decided to set myself a challenge to draw something on a page every day until it was full. 

Drawing brings out the laughter that sometimes you experience at school with feeble attempts at creating something realistic. With my new blank page book I have no one staring over my shoulder or criticising. I'm free to create whatever. My tools are black ink pens, blue biro, scissors, ink tense pencils, a wee crystal vase with water in it, glue stick and paint brush and some old magazines. 

I have managed to keep this up for 6 weeks now. Imagine! Such stickability.


In 2006 I created a textile artwork called ‘Poppy Parade’ 

The poppy is our national symbol of remembrance. Armistice Day this year was special as it marked the centenary of the end of the First World War. On November 11th we remembered those who served overseas, the many lives lost and the hope that peace continues.

My Grandfather Joseph McBride went to Gallipoli. He smuggled a forbidden camera inside his sock. My son Ryan and I have reproduced his photo album to share what he saw. 

The book is ‘Proof of War,’  and on the 12th of November we presented two books to Jeff Smith, Principal, Papanui High School in Christchurch. Joseph McBride was their first Principal in 1936.  

From time to time poppies pop up in my garden and I am reminded of the Canadian, John McCrae, who wrote the poem ‘In Flanders Field.’ The recent Wildflowers Exhibition held at the Russell's property in Hastings had a field of poppies.

Truly stunning.


Afternoon Tea with Nana

Memories are part of my artwork. As a child my Nana let us make mud pies in her garden. We were allowed to pick flowers and decorate them. The best part was she came with handbag over her arm and bought our creations. We then set off to the corner dairy where I soon learnt that vanilla, a new flavour, was not a fruity ice-cream. 

This book was made for the NZ Association of Book Crafts exhibition. Using muslin as a base, serviettes and photos of cupcakes were glued, collage style on to the muslin. These were photocopied and formed the pages.

The process in pictures.

Art from Family Photos

Old photos have an energy that fills me with happiness. Sepia or black and white they have distinct clues about the era they were taken. The clothes, the stance, the interaction. Dominant genes passed on can show uncanny similarities.

When a baby is born relatives search for likenesses. “He looks so like his Grandmother.” 

“Where does his red hair come from?"

These inherited characteristics make you part of your DNA family.

Now with DNA testing kits you can have a link to family you never knew you had. 

I’m about to start using old photos on fabric to create my next piece. 

An Interactive Artwork

When my sister visits she take great pride in rearranging the ‘Cushies.’ This physical presence of her contemplating her next move, appears like a draughts player with a new strategy.

The humble pin cushion is its own work of art, with a new artwork everyday. This re arranging is a bit like life. You need to make adjustments, change things up a little, make something appear new and different.

 Maybe it’s become an interactive artwork.

Figure Hugging or Not

My Grandmother always wore a corset. It was important for that generation.

Body image seems to change with different generations. Its OK to wear a corset on the outside of the body these days.

While studying at EIT I touched on this subject with these images.

I'm beginning to explore this again in a new artwork. 

Art in the Garden

Warmer days bring more interest in the garden as the dormant plants burst with lush growth. My garden is full of weirdly crazy art too.

Remembering Strawberries and Cream

My special interest is art books. Something a bit different. My first book swap topic was Food. 

I asked myself questions. How many pages does a book need?

Does it have to have traditional binding?

How can I make something very different?

I believe book binding can take many forms.

I set my own challenge and hauled out my stack of serviettes. They have great ideas in them. 

I chose the strawberry one and set about making a Strawberry and Cream Book. The strawberry book resting on the cream cushion like a special ring at a wedding ceremony.

The process set out in photos.

Feel free to ask Questions.

Ironing with Style

Taking a saw to pages of a book is not something for everyone. Neither is using an iron on wet dye and hearing it sizzle but what an adventure.  I also like the furry edges of the paper. The heated bubbles produce some amazing patterns. There is no firm result for the outcome. That's the mystery of this process. You never know what you’re going to get. 

In the photos below I have drawn around images that I see on the pages. 

I have 2 irons for this process as they have different patterns on the base.

My iron has become a friend for the first time in my life. Oh! And the dye bottle.

Memories and Making

In 2012 my Grandson was smuggled out of New Zealand to Cape Town, South Africa. This left a huge gap in all our lives. 

To cope with the loss and to pass on family memories that I may never have the opportunity to share with him, I made him a book. 

I treasure these books. Not because I made them but because one day it will be a link to my Grandson. 

Each day I wonder what he is doing and where he is and if he receives the things I send.

My one book has grown into 8 books now. This will be his New Zealand family history. One day he will know he had a great family who were denied access to his precious world. 

One page is special as my late husband, his Grandfather wrote in the one of the books.  

This year Joseph was 8. We all love him and miss him

I call these Joseph Book’s

They measure 140mm x 75mm

Inside are drawings, photos, presents I've sent and cards I’ve made, copies of postcards about New Zealand, family photos and events, memories of times spent in the first 2 years of his life and jottings of what Bizzel, cat is up too.  



The Making of a Model

Several years ago a group of us got together to create a Tree Cosy for the Napier Main Street as part of a promotion. Working with creative people is always fun especially when it involves something rather large.

We had several ‘working bees’ and encouraging hours of crochet and chat.

Our Magnificent Aquatic Goddess (MAG) was complete.

Here is her story in pictures 

Learning a New technique

Beading and embroidery go hand in hand. It’s not something I've done before but the process is somewhat challenging. At first I started with silk thread and chain stitch. When part way through I moved onto the beading. Three beads at a time on a fine needle and then a knot at the back to make sure the stitch didn’t come undone. 

I was surprised how quickly it grew. 

My cat showed a complete lack of interest. 

Triggers from the Christchurch Earthquake

What Triggers a new artwork? My Nana lived in Christchurch.

As a young child we holidayed with Nana and Papa. Nana couldn’t drive and the bus stop over the road was very convenient. She along with her sister would board the ‘goody red bus.’ With their super dress sense and handbags over their arm this was a weekly adventure culminating with afternoon tea at Beaths.

When the Christchurch earthquake struck 22nd February 2011 my mind went back to my early memories and wondering how my Nana would cope with the liquifaction, her beloved cathedral broken and the area she lived in red zoned. 

I painted a picture.