Ex­hi­bi­tion show­cases fab­ric of well-lived life

Central Otago Mirror - - CENTRAL NEWS - By MARY-JO TO­HILL

The life of an Alexan­dra iden­tity who was ahead of her time in fash­ion and fab­ric came to an end last week. Pat He­witt died peace­fully at Elm­slie House, the Wanaka rest home where she had resided since March this year, just a month af­ter see­ing an ex­hi­bi­tion of her life’s work open at Cen­tral Sto­ries Mu­seum and Art Gallery in Alexan­dra. She was 85. Mrs He­witt’s pass­ing was not un­ex­pected ac­cord­ing to her daugh­ter, Mary He­witt, of Wanaka. “Her health had not been good for quite a few years. It was a slow de­cline that had sped up in the last year.” The best trib­ute the fam­ily could have paid their mother was help­ing to put to­gether a dis­play of her most out­stand­ing patch­work quilts and no­table dresses, Ms He­witt said. “It was a cool thing to have done that for Mum and for her to have lived to see it.’’ “She was a woman of her time, and to have ac­cessed her dresses to re­live that time, re­minded us and ev­ery­one who saw the ex­hi­bi­tion, not to for­get how clever she was.” Nearly all of her 60 quilts, painstak­ingly made and art­fully dis­played at Cen­tral Sto­ries, were sold through silent auc­tion af­ter the ex­hi­bi­tion, with the re­main­der do­nated to the mu­seum. Her dresses were re­turned to a col­lec­tion at the Eden Hore 70s Fash­ion Mu­seum at Naseby, loaned by own­ers John and Mar­garet Steele. Ms He­witt’s most en­dur­ing mem­ory of her mother was her bound­less en­ergy and how she “threw her­self into ev­ery­thing.” While grow­ing up, Mrs He­witt made all her daugh­ter’s clothes. Ev­ery Christ­mas there was even a hand­made bikini in a par­cel un­der the tree, and Ms He­witt can re­mem­ber some pretty nifty skat­ing out­fits. Even when her late hus­band, well­known Alexan­dra busi­ness­man Robert or Bob as he was known, was un­well through var­i­ous ill­nesses, “she held it to­gether”. From what she knows of her mother’s early his­tory (she was born in Clyde to Frances and Morledge Warhurst in 1927) her sewing skills were largely self- taught out of ne­ces­sity. “Her mother was good at tak­ing old clothes and re­mod­elling them dur­ing the de­pres­sion years, so she prob­a­bly picked up a lot of her eye for de­tail from that,” Ms He­witt said. Mrs He­witt’s funeral took place at Or­chard Gar­den near Alexan­dra last Satur­day on Daf­fodil Day. ‘‘Mum wanted it to be light- hearted, and for peo­ple to have a good laugh,’’ Ms He­witt said. With that in mind, the grand­chil­dren took Ms He­witt’s dog to the funeral, to speak on be­half of all the an­i­mals that their grand­mother had looked af­ter in her long life. ‘‘It was a bit un­usual but we think she would have liked that,’’ Mrs He­witt said.

Life’s work: The late Pat He­witt with her daugh­ter, Mary, at the open­ing of A Life in Fab­ric ex­hi­bi­tion at Alexan­dra’s Cen­tral Sto­ries Mu­seum and Art Gallery held dur­ing Au­gust.

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