Intimate messages in thread

Currently on show at the Cottleston Art Gallery in Greerton is a textile exhibition by Viv Davy. Using thread and natural fibres to convey the complexities of life, Viv reaches back into early New Zealand colonial past, when women were settling here in the 19th Century and caring for their family’s clothes and household items.

Handwritten with a natural pigment onto linen fabric, the words from the writings of these women are taken from historic resources including the Alexander Turnbull Library. As first-hand accounts of their direct experiences around washing, drying, ironing, mending and remaking garments and household linens it’s a rare glimpse into an often forgotten time.

Lost Voices II was started as part of Viv’s research into Valuing the Mundane completed for her Post Graduate Diploma through AUT and focuses on the domestic care of textiles prior to any mechanisation.

As part of her thesis work, Viv created The Codex Series, diaries that continue for one calendar year, with daily pages recording her mundane domestic chores. The base of the pages is the front page of the local newspaper, which was then coated in hot wax, and various materials attached which are assigned a code.

For example, white broderie anglaise fragments represent washing the evening dishes. The pages for each calendar month were then collated and bound with assorted eco-dyed materials. Viv’s hypothesis was that creating a record is one way of assigning value to these experiences as culturally we only make monuments to things we place value on.

The exhibition also includes small tapestries that reflect the shifts of life. It runs until November 21 at the Cottleston Art Gallery, 128 Oropi Rd, from 11am-4.30pm daily.