Crafting Aotearoa

tui apron
Tui Apron, unknown maker, late 19th century
Te Papa GH015566

Every couple of decades, someone takes stock of craft/object art in Aotearoa New Zealand. There was Doreen Blumhardt and Brian Brake’s Craft New Zealand in 1982 and Helen Schamroth’s 100 New Zealand Craft Artists in 1998, both of which won national book awards. The latest in this line is the recently released Crafting Aotearoa, co-edited by Karl Chitham, Kolokesa U Māhina-Tuai and Damian Skinner, published by Te Papa Press. Unlike its predecessors, its temporal and geographical scope is wide, covering three centuries across the wider Moana / Pacific region. It almost goes without saying that this is a substantial and handsome work which will take some time for anyone to digest; it includes nearly 70 essays by dozens of experts. A significant tranche relate to textile crafts, and CTANZ members are among the many contributors: Stella Lange on school needlework, Natalie Smith on wearable art and Jane Groufsky on quilting, just for starters.

While the book itself will be consumed bite by bite, courtesy of Auckland Museum, there’s more, a selection of online essays as a sister project. Again featuring several CTANZ names, the six sections include  Textiles and Jewellery and adornment.  Among the topics here, Jane Groufsky offers some insight into one of her specialist subjects, bird-related textiles such as the tui apron above. Enjoy this little trove of gems!

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