2014 CTANZ Symposium report

On behalf of the CTANZ symposium committee, I’d like to thank all delegates and presenters of papers for their contributions in turning the 13th symposium into such a wonderful event. A big ‘thank you’ also to the Auckland War Memorial Museum for making the auditorium available as venue for the symposium, and to Andrea Webley of the Auckland Museum Institute. The presence on both days of Otis the AV technician and principal Visitor Host Cindy and her assistant assured smooth proceedings, which created a relaxed and focused environment in which all could enjoy the presentations.

We had a great line up of presenters lead by two keynote speakers who cleverly unpacked the Home Front theme with their entertaining and insightful presentations:

Bronwyn Labrum in ‘The moving home front: Thinking with and through domestic textiles’ extended the notion of ‘the home front’ in considering it as moving in, through and beyond domestic spaces and suggested that a consideration of domestic textiles at home, at school and beyond, can explain what their changing functions and meanings were from the 1940s and into the 1950s. Domestic textiles, in this sense, are, according to Labrum, both a research source and a theoretical tool.

Rosie Taylor-Davies’ richly illustrated and meticulously documented key note address ‘Looking after Tommy or what to do with 9,650 nightingales’ touched on the remarkable martialling work of Queen Mary’s Needlework Guild and several other philanthropic organizations during WWI, through which people of all ages and classes were able to respond, at a touchingly human level, to the war effort.

Other papers covered a wide range of topics interpreting costume and textiles related aspects of the Home Front from the Boer War (Desi Liversage: Home fires and scorched earth), WWI (Yvonne Stewart: The women of ANZAC; Vivien Caughley: Ida Downards’s wartime legacy; Phillipa Harrison: The Salvation Army at the Home Front; Patricia Te Arapo Wallace: Te Piu o te Pakanga-Swinging into battle; Deb Donnelly: Flax industry-The jam factory during WWI), to topics relating to WWII and its aftermath (Dinah Vincent: ‘You can’t replace it’), to a series of papers that more loosely interpreted the Home Front theme ranging from the early 1900s (John Webster: Sarah Rugg-Auckland dressmaker), the first half of the twentieth century (Lizzy Wratislav: Semco girls), the 1950s and 60s (Jane Malthus and Moira White: Making and doing-Patchwork and other sewing crafts as occupational therapy), to an exploration of the topic in more contemporary settings (Ann Packer: Meet the family; Catherine Davies-Colley: Contemporary crafting in the community; Cerys Davidson: Hand printed by Susan Holmes; Christine Hellyar: Home is where the eye is).

We sadly missed the presence of Angela Lassig, president of the Costume and Textile Association, who was unable to attend the symposium following the recent loss of her mother in Australia – our thoughts were with her and her family. Vice-president Kim Smith did a good job standing in for Angela during the symposium and in chairing the AGM on the Friday afternoon.

A selection of the papers presented at the symposium will be included as is usual in this year’s two issues of Context, the Costume and Textile journal, which is send to members of CTANZ as part of their subscription to the Costume and Textiles association. For more information about membership and Context see elsewhere on this website.

Dunedin have accepted to host the 2015 symposium – watch this site for details!


Though I was only available to attend the dinner on the Friday evening it was wonderful to be part of the symposium. Met some lovely people with great stories of their back grounds and experiences.
Look forward to reading the articles in the next booklet.

Thank you for the kind words Gracie. We’re so pleased that you enjoyed the Symposium! Hope to see you in Dunedin next year!

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