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Fabric The base fabric is a pale green/tan, wool drill weave, reminiscent of military cloth or work pants fabric. It was chosen for its heavy drape, to compliment the Zealandia theme and for its drill weave – commonly used for work wear and army uniforms, and its colour. Colour The predominant colours for the sixties piece are a khaki green and orange/red. The use of the khaki green colour is to tie the print in with the concept of New Zealand Identity born from war and the landscape - both have associations with green. The blood red/orange colour is in reference to three different but related ideas. The first is from the red flag of the letterbox, the second is in reference to the Redband gumboots - an icon of rural New Zealand, and the third is taken from a quote by W. P. Morrel which claimed that although New Zealand had the beginnings of a national identity before the Great War, New Zealand ‘wrote its name on the page of history on Anzac Day, 1915, in letters of blood’. All three are a part of New Zealand’s unique cultural identity and the letterbox and the gumboots are specific to the rural world that my father grew up in. Embellishment There are three types of embellishment used on this piece. The first is the appliqué of a copy of a letter in reverse sent to my father from his father whilst at Waiouru Army Camp training to become a territorial. It is printed in reverse so that the details contained with in the letter are only visible while the wearer is viewing it in a mirror. This was done to closely link how the choice my father made (to not remain an army man and come home) directly effected me (the wearer) as if he had not come back to Taranaki, then my parents would not have met and I would not be alive. The letter is divided jaggedly and partially hidden behind the folds of the drape. This alludes to the surreptitious methods my grandfather used to lure my father home to the farm. The letter could only easily be read accurately if the drape was laid flat (truth) and the pieces of the letter placed together and then read using a mirror – a complex series of steps to follow, further concealing the ‘truth’ behind the words in the letter. Or the wearer could view the letter from the inside out – alluding to the suspicion I have that my father knew exactly what his father was trying to do. The other embellishments used were the application of shadow-like copies of family photographs of my father and his brothers, sisters and mother. These are signifying the bait used to lure my father home, and are icons of New Zealand life – the 21st birthday party, fishing, and the nuclear family unit posing for a photograph in the family orchard. The last embellishments used were the ‘stamp’ appliqués used as toggles for the buttons. They are in the shape of stamps to allude to the communication between my father and his father and the distance that was growing between New Zealand and England. The ‘stamps’ have the Southern Cross constellation (as a symbol of New Zealand separate from England), the fleur de lys (as a symbol of heraldic tradition) or a compass dial (symbolising the beginning of New Zealand’s search for an identity) printed on them and as these form part of the system that holds the garment in its shape, they represent the cornerstones of New Zealand culture at the time, one that was on the cusp of coming into its own – no longer tied to England’s apron strings.

First Son: Memory and Myth, an adjustment of faith  
First Son: Memory and Myth, an adjustment of faith  

First Son is an exploration of cultural change in New Zealand from the 1940s till the 1980susing textiles as medium for communication. It ai...

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