Com­mu­nity art work­shop on suf­frage

The Northland Age - - Local Arts -

Rawene’s Clen­don House will be the venue for a com­mu­nity art work­shop com­mem­o­rat­ing 125 years of women’s suf­frage on Novem­ber 24 (9.30am-4pm).

The art work­shop, led by Dunedin artist Janet de Wagt and funded by Cre­ative New Zealand, with sup­port from Her­itage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga, will have par­tic­i­pants cre­ate a com­mem­o­ra­tive ban­ner that will be joined with oth­ers made at other work­shops at key her­itage lo­ca­tions around the coun­try over the next few months.

The ban­ners will be amal­ga­mated into one fi­nal art­work, which will be launched at Old Gov­ern­ment Build­ings in Welling­ton in April.

“The ban­ners are a ref­er­ence to the three Par­lia­men­tary pe­ti­tions that were cir­cu­lated around the coun­try, and which ul­ti­mately re­sulted in women fi­nally be­ing granted the right to vote on Septem­ber 19, 1893,” said Lind­say Char­man, se­nior vis­i­tor host for Clen­don House.

“The third pe­ti­tion was de­scribed by suf­frag­ist Kate Shep­pard as a ‘mon­ster,’ made up of sheets cir­cu­lated through­out New Zealand and re­turned to Christchurch, where Shep­pard pasted each end-onend and rolled it around a sec­tion of broom han­dle.”

The ‘Mon­ster Pe­ti­tion,’ with 25,519 sig­na­tures, some from men, was pre­sented to Par­lia­ment with great drama. Sir John Hall, Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment and suf­frage sup­porter, took it into the House and un­rolled it down the cen­tral aisle of the de­bat­ing cham­ber un­til it hit the end wall with a thud.

“The ban­ners will be an artis­tic rep­re­sen­ta­tion of that ex­traor­di­nary so­cial move­ment that ul­ti­mately saw New Zealand be­com­ing the first coun­try in the world to grant women the right to vote,” Mr Char­man said. Clen­don House was a fit­ting venue for a work­shop.

“Jane Clen­don was the daugh­ter of Den­nis Cochrane and his wife Tako­towi from the Hokianga, a woman of con­sid­er­able strength.

“She also had sig­nif­i­cant blood lines and mana, although she found her­self al­most bank­rupt with a large fam­ily to pro­vide for af­ter the death of her hus­band in 1872. Many peo­ple fac­ing such pres­sure would have gone un­der, but Jane, who was only 34 years old with eight chil­dren un­der 17, rode to Auck­land on horse­back and man­aged to skil­fully ne­go­ti­ate terms of re­pay­ment with her cred­i­tors.

“The story of how Jane man­aged to clear her debts, ed­u­cate her chil­dren in both the Pa¯keha¯ and Ma¯ori worlds while keep­ing the fam­ily home, is in­spir­ing. She was a young mother who took charge of her life in a cri­sis.”

Artis­tic abil­ity will not be nec­es­sary for the work­shop. Janet de Wagt says she is look­ing for­ward to work­ing with peo­ple with a range of dif­fer­ent ideas and skills. All art ma­te­ri­als will be pro­vided.

“Par­tic­i­pants in the ban­ner mak­ing will be able to use paint­ing, print­ing, stamp­ing, draw­ing and weav­ing — what­ever they pre­fer — to cre­ate the ban­ners,” Mr Char­man said. “Par­tic­i­pa­tion is the im­por­tant thing, and cel­e­brat­ing a move­ment that changed New Zealand and the world for­ever.”


Artist Janet de Wagt (right fore­ground) at the first com­mu­nity suf­frage art work­shop in Auck­land.

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