Exhibition showcases fabric of well-lived life
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.