Shellal Mosaic : Fragments of Middle Eastern History at the Hocken

Friday, April 22nd, 2016 | Anna Blackman | 3 Comments

Post researched and written by Dr Anna Petersen, Assistant Curator of Photographs.

Housed in the Hocken Photographs Collection is an album compiled by a World War I soldier, Francis Leddingham McFarlane (1888-1948) from Dunedin, who occupied a short-lived but significant place in the long history of the Shellal Mosaic.

Sapper McFarlane of the New Zealand Wireless Troop was serving in Palestine in April 1917, when fellow ANZAC soldiers near Shellal stumbled across pieces of this sixth century mosaic.  The chance discovery was made during the second battle of Gaza on the floor of a captured Turkish machine gun outpost, located on a small hill overlooking the cross roads of what would once have been the main road between Egypt and Jerusalem.[i]

The soldiers reported their find to Senior Chaplain, Rev. W. Maitland Woods, who had a keen interest in archaeology and made a habit of entertaining the troops with stories about the Holy Lands where they were based.[ii]  Rev. Maitland sought professional advice from curators at the Cairo Museum and gained permission to organise a group of volunteers to uncover and remove the remains.[iii]  Sapper McFarlane was given the job of drawing what they uncovered (fig. 1).[iv]

Figure 1. The sketcher at work. P1993-024-012c

Album 213 includes three photographs showing sections of the Shellal Mosaic in situ (figs 2, 3 and 4), as well as a photograph of the sketcher at work and his completed drawing of the whole carpet-style design (fig. 5).

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Figure 2. Mosaic floor discovered at Shellel. P1993-024-012a

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Figure 3. Inscription and portion of border. P1993-024-013a

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Figure 4. One of the circular designs. P1993-024-013b

A colour lithograph of McFarlane’s drawing was subsequently published in Cairo but, like the photograph, does not do full justice to the subtle hues.  An example of the lithograph can also be found at the Hocken, housed in the Ephemera Collection (fig.6).

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Figure 5. Photograph of drawing of mosaic fragments. P1993-024-011a. Figure 6. Lithograph of mosaic found at Shellal, South Palestine on 23rd April 1917. Hocken Posters collection acc no. 816608.

The full significance of Sapper McFarlane’s drawing is explained in a booklet, written by A.D. Trendall and published by the Australian War Memorial Museum in 1942, some decades after the mosaic was handed over to the Australian government in 1918. Trendall relates how a second drawing, made by Captain M.S. Briggs six weeks later, reveals that during the interim, portions of the mosaic went missing.  Other soldiers probably took away pieces of the peacock and border in the lower right corner in particular as souvenirs and these proved impossible to recover.  Fortunately 8,000 tesserae survived from the top inscription written in Greek; enough to learn that the mosaic once decorated a church dating to A.D.561-2 and honoured a bishop and a priest called George.  Anyone wanting to learn the whole story plus an analysis of the imagery, technique and style, can read Trentham’s booklet, a later edition of which is housed with the album at the Hocken.

Frank McFarlane went on to serve as a war artist in the Middle East and continued to paint and draw after returning to civilian life. Other photographs in album 213 (all now available online via Hakena) help document McFarlane’s time during World War I in Mesopotamia (modern day Iraq).  These include a view of the Arch of Ctesiphon near Baghdad (fig. 7) and a soldier operating a pack set wireless in the field (fig. 8).  A sketchbook in the Hocken Pictorial Collections dates to the 1930s when McFarlane worked as a postmaster at Lawrence in Central Otago.  It includes pencil portraits of local people in Lawrence and remnants of the gold-mining days.

Figure 7. Arch of Ctesiphon near Baghdad. P1993-024-005a

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Figure 8. Pack set wireless in the field, Mesopotamia. P1993-024-022b

Frank McFarlane married Bessie King and together they had two daughters who became professional painters with work also represented at the Hocken that reflects a shared interest in vestiges of the past.  Their paintings are not currently available online for copyright reasons but Heather McFarlane (1925-2011) married New Zealand diplomat, Sir Laurie Francis and a loose photograph in the back of album 213 shows her viewing the Shellal Mosaic on display at the Australian War Memorial Museum in 1965.  A drawing by Shona McFarlane-Highett (1929-2001) entitled ‘Dunedin-Palmyra’ (1965) depicts a quarter of the city that was once inhabited by Assyrians. A photograph in the Dunedin Public Library Collection at the Hocken (P1990-015/49-264) shows a similar row of houses, presumably named after the Syrian city of Palmyra and since demolished.

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Figure 9 Palmyra before demolition, 1971. P1990-015-49-0264

These days the Shellal Mosaic is internationally recognised as one of the finest sixth-century mosaics in existence and as we prepare to welcome more Syrian refugees to the city, it may be a comfort for them to know that the Hocken also preserves some memories and material of relevance to that part of the world.

 

[i] A.D. Trendall, The Shellel Mosaic and Other Classical Antiquities in the Australian War Memorial Canberra, Canberra, 1964, p.9.

[ii] General Sir Harry Chauvel, ‘Foreword’ in The Shellel Mosaic and Other Classical Antiquities in the Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1964.

[iii] Trendall, p.9.

[iv] Ibid.

Sticky Problems in the Archives

Monday, March 7th, 2016 | Anna Blackman | No Comments

 

Sellotape 4

Post researched and written by Debbie Gale, Arrangement and Description Archivist.

Since its introduction in the 1930s, sellotape has been popular for attaching and mending paper and other material.  It is a common sight in archives to see first-hand just how much harm this ‘quick fix’ can do in the long term.

This family heirloom below, the memoirs of Catherine Hester Ralfe dated 1896 (our reference 87-072), is testament to just how damaging the irreversible effects of sellotape can be:

Sellotape 1

As is apparent, rips and tears on the first page have been repaired with sticky tape and its lasting effects are neither successful nor aesthetic.  It is a perfect example of how the compounds comprising sellotape and paper have interacted with each other over time.

Sellotape is comprised of a clear film on top, called the carrier, which is traditionally cellophane. Cellophane is regenerated cellulose. The bottom layer, the sticky part, is traditionally rubber-based adhesive, made so that it bonds with what it touches when pressure is applied.

The rubber adhesive is a long polymer chain, just like the cellulose that makes up paper. Over time, as the paper and the adhesive stay stuck together the two types of polymers will begin to interact and attach to each other in a process called ‘cross-linking’.

As this process continues, the adhesive mass will yellow, get very sticky and oily, and more difficult to remove from the paper.  In this oily condition the adhesive mass can penetrate the paper entirely and move into adjacent sheets. This staining is almost always impossible to remove:

Sellotape 2

Later on the tape also becomes less effective as an adhesive and eventually the carrier falls off:

Sellotape 3

It is clear from the photocopy of these memoirs produced in the 1970s, that the sticky tape repair work had been undertaken before that time.  It is interesting to note just how the condition of the original memoirs has continued to deteriorate since then.  It was in a far better condition in the 1970s than it is in the present day.

Sellotape 5

However tempting it may be, don’t try repairs to your valuable family papers using sticky tape.  If you are interested in getting repair work undertaken by a qualified conservator, a list of contacts can be found in the Directory of New Zealand Conservators of Cultural Material

References:

Ergener, Sibel (2012) Sellotape: Why it’s bad to put on paper, and removal [online].[Accessed 10th February 2016].

Smith, Merrily A. et al. (1983) Pressure-Sensitive Tape and Techniques for its Removal from Paper [online].  [Accessed 11th February 2016]

On the cover

Wednesday, February 24th, 2016 | Anna Blackman | No Comments

Post by Dr Ali Clarke, Library Assistant – Reference

We’re always pleased to see images from our collections featuring on the cover of new books! Each year we put together a list of published items – from books to theses, blogs to journals, television series to exhibitions – which have made use of Hocken resources. Some of them relate to research carried out on our archives or publications, others have used our pictorial collections, and some have done both. So far we have tracked down over 200 items published in 2015 for our list, including 69 books. The variety of topics covered is remarkable, as demonstrated by the few examples featured here.

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MS-0975/234

The very handsome 4-volume set of James K. Baxter’s complete prose, edited by John Weir, involved lots of digging through Baxter’s archives, which are held here. The cover of the first volume features an amusing photo of Baxter with his coat on backwards in Cathedral Square, Christchurch in 1948, sourced from his archives. Another particularly handsome book that has drawn heavily on the Hocken Collections is John Wilson’s New Zealand mountaineering: a history in photographs. including many from our holdings of the New Zealand Alpine Club’s archives. Among them is the great cover shot of Syd Brookes and Bernie McLelland descending North Peak in the Arrowsmith Range in 1939, from an album compiled by Stan Conway.

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We can’t claim the splendid cover picture for Simon Nathan’s biography James Hector: explorer, scientist leader – that comes from the Alexander Turnbull Library – but he has made very good use of Hector’s papers, held at the Hocken. Hector’s notebooks are notoriously difficult to read, thanks to faint pencil combined with illegible handwriting, but some of the sketches in them make very effective illustrations in the book. Simon has also done splendid work transcribing various Hector letters in recent years, making them accessible to others.

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Hector’s sketches of Parengarenga Harbour and his Maori campanion, January 1866

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Another 2015 book which brings previously unpublished work to light is New country, a collection of plays and stories by James Courage, with an introduction by Christopher Burke. Some have been previously published, but one comes straight from Courage’s papers at the Hocken. The book also features some fascinating photographs from Courage’s papers. Genre Books, the publisher, also made good use of Hocken material in a 2014 book, Chris Brickell’s Southern men: gay lives in pictures. This includes numerous photographs from the archives of David Wildey, held in the Hocken largely thanks to Chris. On the cover is one of Wildey’s photographs, recording a visit to Waimairi Beach, Christchurch in 1960.

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Lest we leave you with the impression that all material from our collection is about recreation and enjoyment, another cover from 2014 shows a sober purpose. Presbyterian Support Otago’s report Out in the cold: a survey of low income private rental housing in Dunedin features one of our old photographs of the crowded suburbs of southern Dunedin. The Hocken really does have material for all sorts of purposes.

Unforgettable. In every way.

Tuesday, February 9th, 2016 | Anna Blackman | No Comments

Post researched and written by Amanda Mills, Liaison Librarian – Music and Audio Visual

In Hocken’s 78rpm disc collection there is an anomaly: over 100 American pop standards by US artists. For a collection of New Zealand material, this is a significant exception to our collection development policy, and more than just an example of a popular genre. There is little to explain why these discs are in the music collection, but our records state they were donated by Mr Grant Fleury in the late 1990s, and were (according to staff recollection) part of an estate collection.

So, why would a collection of New Zealand material include these items? One potential reason for keeping these discs, is that they are all NZ pressings of international labels, including Columbia Records, Decca Records, His Masters Voice, and Capitol Records. However, there are between 50 and 100 of these recordings, so this collection is more than just an example of local label pressings. Some of the titles are jazz, pop, and rock’n’roll classics that shaped popular music in the 20th Century, coming at the end of the 78rpm era. Titles include:

Ella Fitzgerald: Happy Talk. A track from the very popular musical “South Pacific”, Ella Fitzgerald recorded the song with Gordon Jenkins and his orchestra in 1950, and this led to them recording an album soon after.

photo 2 78

Fats Domino, Blueberry Hill

Fats Domino: Blueberry Hill and Ain’t That a Shame. Both are significant rock ‘n’ roll classics – Domino’s 1956 recording of Blueberry Hill became the standard version of the song, while his 1955 recording of Ain’t That a Shame gained US  fame after being re-recorded by Pat Boone. However, Domino’s version became more popular.

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Fats Domino, Ain’t That A Shame

Nat King Cole: Unforgettable b/w Mona Lisa. Unforgettable was recorded in 1951, with the Nelson Riddle Orchestra, and with Riddle’s arrangement. Cole remade it in 1956, and it was remade again  in the 1990s as a beyond-the-grave duet with his daughter Natalie. It is backed with an equally popular song, Mona Lisa, which won the 1950 Academy Award for best original song from the film “Captain Carey.”

photo 3 78

Nat King Cole, Mona Lisa

Having these recordings in the collection presents a conundrum – are they a one off exception to the collection development policy of collecting material by New Zealand artists? Or, was there a valid reason for adding international music into the 78rpm disc collection, when there was no apparent local link in terms of composer, or performer?  They are an interesting addition to the collections of early popular music, and their influence is felt widely throughout local New Zealand music of the same time.

Ouch! Acid Burns in the Archives

Friday, January 29th, 2016 | Anna Blackman | No Comments

We often see the effects of acidification of paper on archival collections. Here is a particularly graphic example found in an old school notebook from the papers of the economist Allan George Barnard Fisher (1895-1976).

ExerciseBook2

Inside cover and first page

ExerciseBook3

Inserted note has masked part of the first page and prevented acid migration

The cover of the volume is acidic board, and over the years the acid has migrated from the cover to the first page. A note inserted over part of the page has slowed the acid migration in that area, causing the paper underneath to be less damaged and lighter in colour. The subsequent pages in the volume have remained lighter.

From the late 19th century most paper was made from wood pulp. Wood pulp paper has what conservators call “inherent vice” and most will degrade over time becoming more brown and brittle. We now frequently see 20th century papers that are in much more discoloured and fragile condition compared to papers from the 19th century. Earlier papers were usually made from cotton fibres which do not age in the same way.

Acidification of paper happens when lignin (a fibrous component of wood) breaks down over time. As the lignin breaks down acids are produced that weaken the cellulose fibres of the paper, and make it yellow or brown and brittle. Like many chemical reactions, the acidification process is speeded up by heat, humidity and light. Leave a fresh newspaper outside in a sunny spot for a few days and see the effect of the sun, dew and daytime warmth for yourself!

Because of the almost universal use of wood pulp based papers across the world for much of the 20th century we are often presented with preservation conundrums like the A.G.B. Fisher volume pictured above. The staining could be removed by a professional conservator but the paper will remain weak and conservation treatment is expensive so we rarely have archives treated for this kind of damage. Our strategies for preserving paper are to improve storage conditions and reduce physical handling.

The conditions we store the collections in at the Hocken help slow the rate of deterioration. Air conditioning systems ensure the air in the storage areas remains at a constant temperature and humidity and dust is filtered from the air. Light is excluded by packaging in sturdy acid free folders and boxes, and lights are only turned on when staff need to work in the storage areas. The folders and boxes also provide physical protection to brittle paper, preventing bumps and tears caused by handling.

At home you can help slow the deterioration of your books and family papers by storing them out of direct sunlight, in a dry and clean place. Garages, sheds and basements are not good places for storing older historical material as they tend to be damp, dusty and light and temperature is uncontrolled.

Put historical papers and photos in clean new file folders and boxes. Don’t attempt repairs to tears with any kind of sticky tape, don’t have documents laminated as this causes irreversible damage.

Don’t put book cases directly against outside walls, leave a gap for air circulation between the book case and the wall or preferably put the book case against an internal wall.

The National Preservation Office at the National Library of NZ provides more detailed advice on the care of collections from their website.

https://natlib.govt.nz/collections/caring-for-your-collections/family-collections

 

Postcards at the Hocken

Monday, January 25th, 2016 | Anna Blackman | No Comments

Post researched and written by Dr Anna Petersen (Assistant Curator of Photographs), originally published in Deja View 63 (February 2014), pp. 10-14  (Journal of the Photographic Collectors’ Association of New Zealand)

The Hocken Library has a good collection of early postcards available to researchers, as one would expect of an institution located in Dunedin – the centre of postcard production in Australasia during its postal heyday. There are approximately four thousand postcards in total housed separately in their own sequence within the Hocken Photographs Collection and digital images of about a third of these are currently available on the Hocken Snapshop website.   Hundreds more are housed within individual holdings named after their donors, as well as in albums and brief descriptions of these are given on the Hakena database, available online via the Hocken Library home page.  Countless more postcards are to be found in the Hocken Archives Collection though not collected as postcards per se and, due to the sheer mass of material and limited resources of the Library, only a mention of the format has so far generally been given on the Hakena database.

A visit to the Hocken provides an opportunity to view postcards by particular photographers alongside other examples of their work.  Bill Main chose to mention the E.A. Phillips collection of negatives, for example, in his brief description of the Hocken’s holdings in his book Wish You Were Here.[i]  The recent acquisition of Hardwicke Knight’s collection of photographs and archives currently being catalogued also contains some hundreds of postcards and looks set to bolster in particular the number of images from the Aotearoa series produced by Hugh and G.K. Neill.

GuyFigure1

Figure 1 Portrait of Guy Morris, F.L. Jones photograph.  S09-113b.

 

One favourite Dunedin photographer for curators at the Hocken over the years has been Guy Morris (1868-1918, see figure 1).  Guy Morris’s work was featured at an in-house exhibition in 2009, following the gift of over 100 original photographs from the estate of his eldest daughter, Marina. The show included postcards carrying his images as well as illustrated supplements from the Otago Witness newspaper which contain many published copies of Guy’s work from 1900 until his death during the flu epidemic in 1918.

Hardwicke Knight was the first to mention Guy Morris in his histories of New Zealand photography.[ii]  He explained how the Morris name was well known in Dunedin at the end of the nineteenth century as John Morris, Guy’s elder brother, headed a thriving photographic business.[iii]  John Morris (1854-1919) rose to prominence as a portrait photographer, and, in competition with the Burton Brothers, his prints of Dunedin streets also proved popular, possibly as Hardwicke Knight noted, because he included so much life.  Guy and another brother, Hugh, began as John’s apprentices and then ran branches of the firm around the city before Guy struck out on his own in 1900, trading under his first name.[iv]

Bill Main has published a couple of articles specifically about Guy Morris’s postcards in Postcard Pillar in 2007 and 2011, well-illustrated with examples of his colour and real photo cards.  A useful list of cards in Bill’s private collection reveals how Guy’s images appeared in a number of different series and though mainly devoted to the Dunedin and Otago region, he also photographed other corners of New Zealand. [v] The Hocken holds cards by Guy of places as far south as Stewart Island and north to Bluff Hill in Napier.   Bill Main focused on Guy’s work as a press photographer, putting him on a par with Joseph Zachariah and S.C Smith in Wellington and F.N. Jones in Nelson, and noted  how  his street scenes were ‘refreshingly different’ for the choice of subject matter in people going about their business and the manner in which they were taken  ‘with Dunedin’s trams playing a very important part in his ordered compositions’. [vi]  Another aspect of this is that his subjects can often be matched and dated accurately with photographs in the Otago Witness.  We can therefore know that his ‘Naseby Snow Series’ was a record of a heavy fall in July 1908, for example.

GuyFigure2

Figure 2 ‘Lawyer’s Head Dunedin NZ’, Standard Series postcard, Guy photograph, c.1908.  S14-006b.

I would like to draw attention to Guy’s early postcards that at first sight might not seem as interesting or exciting to collect in terms of action.  These include colour lithograph views of sunsets and largely empty shorelines like that shown in figure 2, now such ubiquitous subjects in the postcard market with its modern printing techniques.  During the first decade of the twentieth century, however, such mechanically reproduced scenes were about as close to a real colour photograph as was possible.  Moreover, the subject of unspoilt nature in the form of uncrowded spaces, unpolluted water and clear skies was very topical (as indeed is still the case), as people in Europe looked to escape their over-populated, smog-bound cities and local authorities sought to attract the discerning public to Dunedin.

Guy’s career as a photographer covered the Edwardian period, often referred to as ‘The Age of Innocence’ before World War One.  Dunedin was a safe haven even by New Zealand standards and residents actively promoted the city as a good place to raise a family.  The Otago Witness newspaper published a weekly column espousing the teachings of local hero, F. Truby King and ‘Dunedin became the Citadel’ of the Plunket Movement.[vii]  The newspaper also supported the Dunedin Expansion League’s quest to attract industrious, skilled workmen with large young families to bolster the population, further business interests and regain the position of foremost city in New Zealand.[viii]

The golden beaches lying literally at Dunedin’s doorstep, which had been largely neglected by photographers until this point, constituted a major selling point and Guy’s photographs and postcards served an integral part in advertising the fact.  While the focus of photographers during the late nineteenth century had been on promoting the material progress of the colony and Muir and Moodie’s extensive stock of postcards concentrated on built-up areas of the city, Guy offered a change of scene and rather different set of values.  Along with his postcards of other public beauty spots like the Botanical Gardens and Outram Glen, Guy’s images of the open coastline spoke of a romantic closeness to nature and wealth of wholesome leisure activities which held universal appeal.

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Figure 3 Original photograph of an image included in ‘Scenes on the Beach at St Clair, Dunedin’, Otago Witness Christmas Annual, 1905, p.40.  S09-096g.

A critical aspect of the message was that the sandy stretch was accessible to all and, by in large, this appeared to be the case.  The trams that Bill Main noted as integral to Guy’s cityscapes, now linked the suburbs more completely to the business centre making it easier for everyone to travel and bathe in the salt water, walk along the esplanade, picnic and take in the fresh air.  Crowds of people made their way there each Labour Day when the weather was fine, and over the summer months as documented in Guy’s photographs published in the Otago Witness Christmas Annual (for example, see figure 3).  Copies of the Christmas Annual made their way across the world courtesy of the New Zealand Government Department of Tourist and Health Resorts.  Of course the very idea of being on the beach around Christmas time was a novelty for adults of European origin.  One copy of the Guy postcard in figure 4 (a photograph reproduced in at least four different postcard series including F.T. Opalette, F.T. Domed Glossine and Industria) was sent by one local resident as a Christmas card to a friend just down the Otago Harbour at Broad Bay.

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Figure 4 ‘St Clair, Dunedin, N.Z.’, Guy postcard, c.1909. S14-006a.

Yet then, as now, it was still possible to find the beach virtually to oneself and judging from his output, Guy spent hours photographing beside the sea.  Purely from an aesthetic point of view, Guy found an ever-changing play of light and form in the vista of earth, sea and sky between Lawyer’s Head and St Clair known as Ocean Beach, the warren of curious volcanic rock formations further south towards the expanse of sand looking out to Green Island and drama of the waves of the South Pacific Ocean hitting land.  Amongst the original prints by Guy in the Hocken Photographs Collection are many studies (figure 5) that obviously constituted a library of images to choose from for his postcards.

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Figure 5 St Kilda, Guy photograph, undated. Marina Morris Collection. S14-006d.

By working productively and spending the time, Guy established a personal relationship with the Dunedin coast, making it his own.  Though some other postcard images of the area by different photographers can be seen on the Hocken Snapshop site, Guy appears to have produced the largest number.  Guy’s postcards and published photographs comprise both public as well as more private views, perhaps none more so than those that include his own children enjoying themselves.  The card entitled ‘Ocean Beach, Dunedin. A Summer Seascape’ (figure 6) may well feature his three young daughters just above his signature, a portrait of whom is also reproduced here from the Hocken Photographs Collection (figure 7).

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Figure 6 ‘Ocean Beach, Dunedin.  A Summer Seascape’, Guy postcard, undated.  S14-006c.

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Figure 7 ‘Gathering Wild Berries’ [Portrait of Jean, Dorothy and Marina Morris], original photograph reproduced in Otago Witness Christmas Annual, December 1912, p. 39.  S14-008.

Studying postcards of the closest beaches at the Hocken, we are left with a record of Guy’s vision of a healthy city environment and people―fresh, clean, full of natural beauty and promise.  What were once new views of Dunedin are now old, but over a century later, they remain relevant.  The same virtues that Guy and other citizens valued continue to satisfy local residents and attract foreign families to the city.  Providing just a sample of the postcards held at the Hocken, Guy’s postcards are undoubtedly worth collecting and preserving.  They represent just a fraction of the postcards held at the Hocken but speak of the potential the collection holds for researchers as a whole.

[i] William Main, Wish You Were Here, Wakefield, 2005, p.114.

[ii] For example, see Hardwicke Knight, Photography in New Zealand:  A Social and Technical History, Dunedin, 1971, p.108.

[iii] Hardwicke Knight, The Photography of John Richard Morris: An Appreciation of his contribution to New Zealand portrait and view photography in the nineteenth century, Dunedin, 1995.

[iv] Ibid.

[v] William Main, “Guy” Guy Clayton Morris 1868-1918’, Postcard Pillar, issue 79 (August 2007), pp. 16-17.

[vi] Main, p.15.

[vii] Erik Olssen, A History of Otago, Dunedin, 1984, p.151.

[viii] See, for example, ‘Dunedin The City Beautiful’, Otago Witness Christmas Annual, December 1912,  back cover.

Vogue New Zealand: A Decade of Home-Grown Glamour

Wednesday, November 18th, 2015 | Anna Blackman | No Comments

Blog post prepared by Kate Hyland, Library Assistant

The Hocken’s periodicals collection is home to a range of fashion-related material. Perhaps one of the most glamorous titles we hold is Vogue New Zealand – our nation’s very own edition of the famous title published from 1957 to 1968. Though New Zealand’s Vogue was short-lived, the magazine is a valuable resource for today’s readers: the preserved copies represent an important decade in New Zealand’s fashion history.

Vogue New Zealand began as an offshoot for British Vogue. Edited from the U.K., the early issues spoke of patriotism for England: New Zealand readers were encouraged to sew with British materials, and New Zealand garments were flown out of the country to be photographed in ‘proper’ English settings. Early features were mostly international and, besides advertising, there was little to indicate that the publication was intended for an antipodean audience. One exception is found in the magazine’s fashion advice, where suggestions were made about where Vogue clothing could be worn in New Zealand. The following extract details appropriate places to sport “cotton sailcloth” items by Voyageur:

 “Bottom right: More white, per leg-pocket shorts and tying shirt, brighter beneath a red beach blazer. Three sun-active parts, for Queenstown or perhaps Waitemata Harbour this summer…” (1959:Summer, page 57).

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Vogue New Zealand cover, 1959 : Summer, and “Sun Dash” Vogageur items pictured bottom right, (1959 : Summer, page 57).

The magazine’s British accent did not silence its developing New Zealand voice however. By 1960, production of the magazine had moved from England to Australia with editor Sheila Scotter appointed to oversee Vogue New Zealand and Vogue Australia. These developments – including the coming of local editorial talent such as Michal McKay – saw the magazine’s distinctive New Zealand style begin to flourish. New Zealand photographers, fashionable New Zealand homes, elegant New Zealand women and, of course, New Zealand designers were brought to the fore. In true Kiwi style, country living and woollen garments became a heavy focus for the magazine.

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“Evening Looks on Elegant New Zealanders”. v.10 : no 2 (1966 : Winter, page 40) and “Wool Elegance” – advertisement for the New Zealand Wool Board. v.12 : no.2 (1968 : Winter, page 31).

Vogue New Zealand positioned our nation as one in-touch with global trends and capable of producing high fashion garments. New Zealand designers, like Bruce Papos, or El Jay, were celebrated by the publication, inspiring confidence in local design. The local industry also benefitted from the magazine’s showcasing of the latest in European fashion. For example, the repeated feature “What goes on in other Vogues” informed readers of the styles trending in global fashion centres such as Paris or Italy. In another feature, readers were encouraged to write to the magazine and request Vogue sewing patterns. Access to these designs was not exclusive; the professional and the non-professional alike had the means to create some of the most fashionable clothes of the era.

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Bruce Papos advertisement (1958 : Autumn/Winter, page 5). Patterns for these garments were available on request. v.11 : no.3 (1967 : Summer, page 83). “What goes on in other Vogues: Italy”. v.11 : no.2 (1967 : Winter, page 83).

Trending fashions were not stagnant during the magazine’s run, of course. Fashion, as we know, is subject to change, and the magazine documents some of the era’s major changes in style. For example, looks from the late fifties vary greatly to those of the sixties. Scanning the issues today, we can see that a traditional and lady-like aesthetic prevails in the fifties; however a youthful and rebellious style emerges in the sixties. This step away from tradition is echoed in Vogue New Zealand’s “Breakaways” feature from 1966, which reads:

“Who are the Breakaways? They are the girls who bolted the pack: stepped out of the mould – then smashed it to smithereens. They are the Look of today, of this generation”. (1966:Spring, page 51).

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A traditional look from the fifties (1958 : Autumn/Winter, page 52). “The Breakaways” feature shows a distinct change in style. v.10 : no.3 (1966 : Spring, page 57). Colour image from “The Breakaways” v.10 : no.3 (1966 : Spring, page 56).

Vogue New Zealand’s decade-long run was an important time in the history of New Zealand fashion. The magazine supported New Zealand’s developing fashion industry and connected Kiwi’s with the world of couture culture. Today, the preserved copies offer a fascinating record of this time and the changing fashions within it. Like many treasures at the Hocken, Vogue New Zealand offers us a glimpse into the past and tells us a story that is unique to New Zealand’s history. We encourage those who are interested by this magazine (or related material) to visit the library and view the items first-hand. Donations from the public are also welcomed; we are always looking for material that will enrich Dr. Hocken’s ever-growing collection.

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The Hocken’s collection of Vogue New Zealand to date.

References:

Hill, M. (2011) New Zealand in Vogue. New Zealand Journal Of History [Online] 45 (2), 274-275. Available from: MasterFILE Complete, EBSCOhost [Accessed 28th October 2015].

Sun Dash. (1959:Summer) Vogue New Zealand, 57.

Te Papa: Museum of New Zealand. (2011) New Zealand in Vogue [Online] Available from: http://www.tepapa.govt.nz/WhatsOn/exhibitions/Pages/NZinVogue.aspx. [Accessed 28th October 2015].

The Breakaways. (1966:Spring) Vogue New Zealand 10 (3), 51.

Vogue Australia. (2011)  A decade of Vogue New Zealand. [Online] Available from: http://www.vogue.com.au/culture/whats+on/a+decade+of+vogue+new+zealand,12965.

[Accessed 29th Oct 2015].

 

Enquire Within

Thursday, October 29th, 2015 | Anna Blackman | 2 Comments

Post researched and written by Megan Vaughan, Library Assistant – Publications

 

Huia butter

Huia butter advertisement (edition 3, p.5)

Addressed to the householder these booklets were distributed to subscribers in the 1930s and 1940s. The content ranges from household cleaning tips to reading tea leaves.

Hocken holds 12 Dunedin editions from the 30s and 40s, as well as a 1935 Auckland edition and a 1935 Wellington edition.

About half of the content is dedicated to advertising for local businesses such as Hallensteins, and Wolfenden and Russell.

Hallensteins

Hallensteins advertisement (inside back cover of 1st edition)

While the booklets themselves are not eye-catching the content offers an interesting, and sometimes amusing, insight into the minutiae of domestic life in 1930s and 40s New Zealand.

Recipes occupy a lot of space. Instructions for cooking asparagus (boil for 20 minutes!) (ed.1, p.14), curried sardines (ed.1, p.10), parsnip and turnip wines (ed.1, p.17), stuffed lettuce (ed.5, p.28), tripe (ed.7, p.8) and rusks (ed.7, p.28) are just a few of the recipes featured.

Cooking hints complement the recipes and include being able to tell the difference between fungi and mushrooms (ed.1, p.6), how to make your jelly set quickly using methylated spirits and a draught (ed.1, p.22), how to improve your coffee with a pinch of mustard (ed.4, p.34), and how to sweeten rancid fat (ed.2, p.26) rather than throwing it away.

RS Black and Son

RS Black & Son advertisement (edition 5, p.73)

Other household hints make heavy use of vinegar, lemon juice, salt and methylated spirits. A recipe for homemade floor polish finds a use for broken gramophone records (ed.4, p.36). Eggshells thrown into the copper made clothes very white (ed.2, p.22) and rusty ovens were clearly an issue as the solution of leaving the oven door open after use was repeated in many editions (e.g. ed.12, p.28).

Health remedies include tips such as placing a scraped potato on scalds (ed.1, p.26), using sage tea for a sore throat (ed.1, p.28), smoking blue gum leaves several times a day for asthma (ed.1, p.30), and shaving warts until they bleed before applying lunar caustic (silver nitrate) (ed.1, p.30). Billiousness was treated by drinking salty water and “nerves” were improved by numerous glasses of cold water and getting out of bed earlier (and a better attitude is implied!) (all in ed.1). It was recommended invalids be protected from visitors (e.g. ed.1, p.26).

Beauty tips included “cures” for numerous complaints ranging from scurf (aka dandruff: cured with kerosene, ed.3, p.48), dry skin, and baldness, to freckles (ed.1, p.32). Much of this content was repeated without variation throughout editions.

 

United Cash Orders

United Cash Orders advertisement (back cover of 5th edition)

Etiquette for occasions such as visiting, dining out and weddings is described in great detail. The dense lists for these sections contain some conventions still familiar today such as not reaching across your neighbour at the dinner table or spitting out bits of bone onto your plate (ed.2, p.4-6). Declining a dish at a meal was acceptable, but offering a reason was not (ed.2, p.4-6). Carrying a stick into someone’s drawing room was within the realm of good manners, but wielding an umbrella or wearing an overcoat was considered impolite (ed.2, p.4-6).

Conversation brought a whole raft of dos and don’ts: the familiar rules against interrupting and whispering are listed along with the recommendation you don’t talk about yourself or your maladies, or afflictions  (ed.2, p.4-6). It was advised when telling jokes to laugh afterwards, and not before! (ed.1, p.25).

Wolfenden and Russell

Wolfenden & Russell (edition 5, p.11)

Fortune telling appears to have been popular with many editions containing hints on reading tea leaves (e.g. ed.2, p56), and large sections of many booklets were dedicated to interpreting dreams (e.g. ed.1, p.54-62). One booklet includes a section that explains mole position and your resulting fortune: for e.g. a mole on the nose means success in everything, but on the left knee indicates an indolent, thoughtless and indifferent person (ed.2, p.58).

Enquire within also offers tips for motorists, hints for fixing common radio problem, advice for gardeners, meanings of a select few given names, and guidance on the care of animals.

 

 

Recent purchases for the Ephemera Collection

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2015 | David Murray | No Comments

Post by Katherine Milburn, Liaison Librarian – Ephemera

Staff at the Hocken are constantly on the search for new material to add to the collections. We rely on the generosity of donors and greatly value the contributions they make. Some other avenues used to hunt down relevant items include searching second hand stores, bidding at local and national auction houses and via online auction sites such as Trade Me and eBay. We are grateful to all those who alert us to material that may be of possible interest.

Purposeful collecting of ephemera began in the mid-1960s and although there are some older items in the collection, there is much earlier material that we would love to be able to add. The ephemera collection includes a wide variety of printed items from programmes, tickets, menus, leaflets, to posters and packaging. The collection focuses particularly on Otago and Southland material but does include items with a national scope too.

 

Here are pictured some items for local businesses, some of which are now defunct, that were recently found and purchased via Trade Me. They include a Huia Cream cap (the Hocken Collections occupy the former Otago Co-operative Dairy Company Limited building where Huia products were manufactured); a Manda Ice cream sticker (a company that was founded in Invercargill); a box for F. Wilkinson’s Emulsion of Cod Liver Oil (a chemist in Caversham, Dunedin); a hat box for D.I.C. (the Drapery and General Importing Company of New Zealand Ltd was established in Dunedin in 1884); and a Coulls Somerville Wilkie Ltd packaging sample book that features wonderful examples of packaging for a variety of local firms such as Hudsons and D.W. Johnston & Sons Ltd and is dated from c.1950s. Other recent purchases include a small sheet of stickers featuring the iconic brand for the New Zealand Apple and Pear Marketing Board, and a striking poster for the 1975 Labour Party election campaign.

All of these items reflect aspects of New Zealand society and culture at the time they were manufactured and used; they are now valuable resource material that is available to all Hocken researchers.

The Dunedin Sound?

Thursday, August 20th, 2015 | Anna Blackman | 8 Comments

Post by Amanda Mills, Liaison Librarian – Music and Audio-Visual

Dunedin Sound cabinet 2

The Dunedin Sound is a phrase used widely to describe a particular sound in independent music (most often on the Flying Nun label) that emerged from Dunedin in the 1980s. Currently, there are a number of people who claim ownership of the phrase ‘Dunedin Sound’, but it is commonly attributed to The Clean’s guitarist, David Kilgour, who uttered it in an interview. The phrase is contentious: many people deny there was ever such a thing as the ‘Dunedin Sound’, while others are adamant it existed. However, it is a convenient term to use when describing local bands from that era, in particular The Chills, The Clean, The Verlaines, The Bats, Look Blue Go Purple, and Sneaky Feelings – all bands that used (to a greater or lesser degree) an underlying  drone, or a jangly guitar in their sound. Dr. Graeme Downes (guitarist, vocalist and songwriter with The Verlaines) argues that there is a ‘Dunedin Sound’, found in the songs themselves, within structural and compositional commonalities. Other factors fit too: isolation, the weather, and finding that their diverse inspirations all filtered through a similar mindset. The right time, and, crucially, the right place.

It has been argued the ‘Dunedin Sound’ began with The Clean’s Boodle Boodle Boodle EP (which was very popular, selling over 10,000 copies, and attaining the no. 4 place in the charts), and then continued with The Chills, the Stones, The Verlaines, and Sneaky Feelings (a.k.a The Dunedin Double), which is still a benchmark for local independent music – compilations such as Wellington’s Four Stars, and last year’s Fishrider Records compilation Temporary were heavily compared to it.

Dunedin Sound posters

The Hocken’s collections are rich in material from this music sub-genre, spread throughout our different collections – Posters and Ephemera include treasures such as one-off gig posters, such as these by the Magick Heads and Look Blue Go Purple, and invites to parties where the bands played; Garage, Hahaha, and Kahoutek zines all feature in-depth interviews with the musicians. Within the archives, a copy of Martin Phillipps’ recent oral history with Helen Frizzell resides, and the Xpressway papers are a mine of information about releases and careers of local musicians signed to the label (many formerly on Flying Nun). The accompanying Xpressway cassette collection was transferred to the published music collections, and these tapes include rare, and early, live recordings of bands and solo artists. There is research too – theses by Craig Robertson and Sian O’Gorman provide information on the bands and the music, as well as the creative scenes surrounding the musicians. Our publications hold books on New Zealand music that include the local scenes and profile the artists, and our music clippings files cover not only ‘Dunedin Sound’ bands and artists, but also the wider Dunedin music scenes and genres. The recorded music collection is richest in terms of the core of the ’Dunedin Sound’ – the actual recordings. We hold some of the hardest-to-find music releases because we collected them at the time of release, and, thus, have a collection deep in content. While not 100% comprehensive, original recordings and reissues are constantly being added to the collection – many new items purchased recently have been reissues. In addition, as part of the Audioculture function held at here on May 14th this year, we were generously gifted the original design for the initial Flying Nun logo (a one-eyed cherub holding an LP), a significant addition.

Dunedin Sound cabinet

 

Music is subjective: here are my 10 favourite ‘Dunedin Sound’ recordings in the Hocken’s music collections, between 1981 and 1996. How many of these do you know?

  • ‘The Dunedin Double’ EP (The Chills, The Verlaines, The Stones, Sneaky Feelings)
  • ‘Boodle Boodle Boodle’ EP (The Clean)
  • ‘Life in One Chord’ EP (Straitjacket Fits)
  • ‘Death and the Maiden’ single (The Verlaines)
  • ‘Pink Frost’ single (The Chills)
  • ‘Outer Space single’ (The 3Ds)
  • ‘Bewitched’ EP (Look Blue Go Purple)
  • ‘Snapper’ EP (Snapper)
  • ‘Randolph’s Going Home’ single (Shayne Carter and Peter Jeffries)
  • ‘A Timeless Piece’ EP (The Rip)

Finally, it’s worth bearing in mind that many of these bands and artists are still making records:  new Chills and Verlaines’ albums are coming, Shayne Carter has a new solo album out this year, and The Clean and The Bats have toured locally and internationally recently.

 

 
Anna Blackman anna.blackman@otago.ac.nz
 

Any views or opinion represented in this site belong solely to the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the University of Otago. Any view or opinion represented in the comments are personal and are those of the respective commentator/contributor to this site.