The first meeting of the Otago Embroiderers’ Guild was held on 26th January 1961, in the Lecture Room of the Dunedin Public Library. Miss Helen Moran chaired the meeting and spoke of setting up an embroiderers’ guild affiliated to the London Embroiderer’s Guild. The subscription was one pound and the following committee was elected:
- President – Miss H Moran
- Vice-President – Mrs S Johnstone
- Secretary – Mrs B Arnold
- Treasurer – Mrs E Collett
- Librarian – Mrs Rhodes
- Committee – Mrs A Waugh, Miss M Duke, Mrs N Waugh
- Supper convenors – Mrs More & Mrs E Randall
Records show that the number of members in 1961 was 78.
A constitution was drawn up in 1965, and in 1973 OEG became affiliated to the Association of New Zealand Embroiderers’ Guilds Inc (ANZEG), and one of 59 such groups around New Zealand. Currently OEG has 127 members.
Over the past 52 years the Otago Guild has been meeting at various venues around Dunedin and since 2005 has resided at the Leith Bowling Club in Duke Street. Monthly meetings allow members to attend classes, borrow from our extensive library, meet up with friends and of course to stitch and share ideas.
The Otago Embroiderers’ Guild celebrated its 50th anniversary in November 2011 with an exhibition aptly titled ‘Golden Stitches’ hosted at the Toitu Museum. The exhibition displayed examples of past work completed by Miss Moran ranging up to items completed by current members. Included in the weekend celebrations were; a talk at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery by Australian Gary Clarke, Embroiderer; classes taught by Gary; presentation of the new Otago Embroiderers’ Guild banner designed by Anne Jaquiery and luncheon at the Savoy with invited guests as well as Life Members and present Guild members.
Guild meetings are held at Leith Bowling Club, 2 Duke Street, Woodhaugh, Dunedin.
Evening meetings are held on the fourth Thursday in the following months: Jan, Feb, March, April, Sept, Oct, Nov.
Day meetings are held each fourth Saturday in the following months: May, June, July, August.
Workshop is an informal stitch group open to all Guild members, held each Thursday morning 9.30 – 11.45am at the Senior Citizens Rooms Lower Octagon. Cost $1 for tea/coffee.
The Guild has an extensive library of over 500 books that is available to Guild members during each Guild meeting (except May Day). Loan period is for one month. Books and magazines cover all forms of stitching both traditional and contemporary, construction and history,
The Tapestry Trust of New Zealand.
In 2009 an Otago businessman, Fred Haslam, approached Jeanette Trotman who was, at the time, President of the Otago Embroiderers’ Guild, with the concept of a tapestry telling the story of New Zealand.
Unfortunately Fred Haslam passed away at the end of 2010. By then he had persuaded Barry Clarke, a local accountant, into becoming the Chairman with Jeanette Trotman the Secretary, Margaret Erskine (at that time the ANZEG president), and Margaret Kennedy (the ANZEG Representative for Otago and Southland), into becoming Trustees. In 2014 Susan Schweigman joined as a Trustee and became minutes secretary. These five people are the trustees of The Tapestry Trust of New Zealand Inc.
It is visualised that the panels, when complete, will tell the history of these islands in embroidery. Volunteers from all over New Zealand will create this embroidery. The embroiderers will mainly be members of local Guilds, which together form the Association of New Zealand Embroiderers’ Guilds. The history will be set out on approximately 90 panels of width 100cm and height 67cm.
The History Department of the University of Otago suggested titles for the panels with some local input from Guilds. Woollen cloth using New Zealand wool was woven by Stansborough, a small mill in Lower Hutt, and locally produced Strands threads were selected for the stitching because of their excellent colour range.
Alex Gilks is the designer with help from Victoria McIntosh and Mishca Hill. These artists research the panel content; make preliminary drawings that are then sent to the Guild who will stitch the panel. The Guild then makes suggestions that the artists take into account when making the final design.
Guilds are sent the fabric with drawn design upon it attached to a large folding frame, all threads and some simple directions about which stitches to use. Each frame has a cover with carrying handles to simplify transportation and to keep the embroidery clean.
To date we have four completed panels, Shore Whaling from Marlborough Guild, The Foundation of Otago from Otago Guild, Sheep Farming and Breeding, from Central Hawke’s Bay Guild and Gallipoli and WWI from Whakatane Guild.
There are five panels being stitched, seven panels at the design stage, eleven panels allocated to Guilds but not yet at the design stage, and five Guilds have not yet finally chosen their panel title.
For more information contact Jeanette at firstname.lastname@example.org
We are moving ahead steadily, this is a long-term project.
Jeanette Trotman, May 2015