RETRO PAST

Wel­come to Chris­tine Ferny­hough’s Mu­seum of the Ev­ery­day – where or­di­nary day-to-day items are cel­e­brated. Here, it’s the iconic hand-coloured prints of Aotearoa by Whites Avi­a­tion that catch the eye

NZ Life & Leisure - - Contents - WORDS CHRIS­TINE FERNY­HOUGH

A se­ries cel­e­brat­ing or­di­nary ( but never un­in­ter­est­ing) ev­ery­day things

IMAG­INE A POSH ROOM in a home in post-war New Zealand – say in the 1950s and 1960s. A sofa and two match­ing arm­chairs sit upon pat­terned (and proudly New Zealand wool) Axmin­ster wall-to-wall car­pet, next to the glazed cabi­net that dis­plays all that is for “best”, never to be used, only ad­mired. On the wall­pa­pered walls hangs a com­pany cal­en­dar, a framed ta­pes­try (Gains­bor­ough’s The Blue Boy is pop­u­lar), a print of Queen El­iz­a­beth II’s bri­dal bou­quet and, in pride of place over the fire­place, a Whites Avi­a­tion hand-coloured pho­to­graph.

Per­haps it’s an im­age of a turquoise blue sea, waves foam­ing white as they break on the jagged rocks of coastal Kaik­oura. Or the Bri­tan­nia, here for the Royal Visit in early 1970, steam­ing up the Waitem­ata sur­rounded by a flotilla of yachts and mo­tor­boats.

Leo White (1906–1967) sat­is­fied his pas­sion for pho­tog­ra­phy and avi­a­tion when he es­tab­lished Whites Avi­a­tion in 1945. He and his fly­ing mates over­came many tech­ni­cal chal­lenges as they ranged all over the coun­try, record­ing for pos­ter­ity the cities, towns and ru­ral and iconic land­scapes that now shape our im­age of New Zealand. First pub­lished by Whites in 1952, the book Pic­to­rial Ref­er­ence of New Zealand was a cel­e­bra­tion of post-war growth and con­fi­dence in God’s Own Coun­try. In­di­vid­u­ally hand-coloured prints, strik­ing in a time of black and white pho­tog­ra­phy, are now ap­pre­ci­ated by new gen­er­a­tions of New Zealan­ders both as part of the coun­try’s so­cial his­tory and as ob­jects of de­sire.

The Mu­seum of the Ev­ery­day is the coun­try’s lead­ing col­lec­tion of com­mon­place items from the past cen­tury. See more at ehive.com

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