Women’s cen­tre mo­saic ex­tended

Hastings Leader - - News - BY BRENDA VOWDEN brenda.vowden@nzme.co.nz

The Here­taunga Women’s Cen­tre could be de­scribed as a pil­lar of so­ci­ety — lit­er­ally.

As part of last year’s an­nual Septem­ber cel­e­bra­tions, the cen­tre de­cided to mo­saic their en­trance pil­lars and this year ex­tended the work.

“Jok­ingly, when the work was com­pleted Jean McGav­ock, the main artist, joined me to talk about how they could ex­tend it the fol­low­ing year to in­clude more women and some­how in­cor­po­rate it all with 125 years of suf­frage,” says cen­tre man­ager Mar­got Wil­son.

Jean came up with a plan which spanned 5m ei­ther side of the gate. She pro­vided a tem­plate for fig­ures of women, plus im­ages of fash­ions from 1893 to to­day, and fa­cil­i­tated daily work­shops at the cen­tre. Women from Kate Shep­pard to Jacinda Ardern car­ry­ing daugh­ter Neve are de­picted.

“This meant that more than 50 women came and ei­ther pro­duced a fig­ure, flow­ers or bor­ders on spe­cial mesh that would then be trans­ferred onto the wall. Once all the fig­ures were com­pleted they were glued to the wall.”

Mar­got ap­plied to the Min­istry of Women’s Af­fairs for fund­ing for the project, which paid for tiles for the sky and ground and the suf­frage rib­bon that weaves through­out. How­ever much of the cloth­ing on the fig­ures is made up from pieces of crock­ery women brought in to be part of the wall.

Mar­got says there were many high­lights dur­ing the process, but watch­ing women who had never done any mo­saic or art work be­fore stood out.

“It was re­ally great to see them pro­duce these fan­tas­tic fig­ures and be so proud and happy to be part of what will be a last­ing work.” An­other high­light was the com­mu­nity con­ver­sa­tions and sto­ries the work gen­er­ated as it went up on the wall, Mar­got says.

“A large num­ber of peo­ple stopped to talk with Jean and her helpers as they glued and grouted the work in place. It truly was a com­mu­nity art work.”

The whole process took just three weeks. The big­gest chal­lenge was get­ting the work com­pleted in time for the un­veil­ing on Suf­frage Day, Septem­ber 19, al­though the fi­nal grout­ing had to hap­pen a week later.

“It was such a re­lief to get it all com­pleted on that af­ter­noon be­fore un­veil­ing. Jean didn’t think we had enough tiles to com­plete the sky but re­mark­ably we man­aged to fin­ish with some to spare. She is still scratch­ing her head over how we did this.”

Feed­back from the com­mu­nity has been very pos­i­tive.

“I re­ally feel it adds an­other di­men­sion to Civic Square and draws at­ten­tion to our beau­ti­ful Cat­e­gory One his­toric build­ing and the Women’s Cen­tre it­self. In some ways it al­most feels like we need to have an en­trance into the cen­tre from the square as well now — but that might be a con­ver­sa­tion for an­other day. I am just thrilled that the women of Hast­ings have man­aged to pro­duce such a stun­ning com­mem­o­ra­tive piece in honour of those women who worked tire­lessly 125 years ago to se­cure the vote for women.”

Here­taunga Women’s Cen­tre man­ager Mar­got Wil­son stand­ing by the cen­tre’s en­trance wall show­ing a suf­frage mo­saic de­pict­ing Kate Shep­pard, and Jacinda Ardern and her daugh­ter Neve.

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