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In today’s contemporary throw-away society, where most objects are not made to last and consumers anxiously await the Latest and the Newest, many consumer products such as clothing and computers are only expected to last for a season, stylistically and technologically. In Death, Memory and Material Culture (2001) Hallam and Hockey point out that “one of the effects of mass merchandising in the later twentieth century has been to underline the inherent ephemerality of the present” and that this has “set up a radically new relationship among wanting, remembering, being and buying” (p. 18). It has created a void and the past has rushed in to fill it. Museums, once relegated to dusty old corners and dark buildings, are now in new purpose-built, modern, light filled structures. The collecting and making accessible of the past to the public, to inform and satisfy interest, is of high importance to many societies. In Dream Spaces, Memory and the Museum (2001), Gaynor Kavanagh explores the current themes of museum exhibits in relation to memory and writes that museums need to have a feeling for peoples lives or they will become irrelevant, even remote. This point is relevant to all postmodern contemporary spaces. Personal interpretation and involvement are important in the connection between objects and user, artwork and audience, writer and reader. In Wild Things: the Material Culture of Everyday Things (1998) Judy Attfield discusses the unique place textiles have in our lives and our identities - she claims that fabrics are one of the most intimate materials that forge the connection between the body and the world we live in. Some mementos, such as heirloom jewellery, serve not only as representations of other peoples past lives and your relationship to those people, but also of the times you have worn the jewellery since it was given to you. They are a part of your identity because of the significance of them to you, and the link they provide to your heritage, genealogy and immediate past. These objects exist in the present and are representational of the past – but how accurate is this representation? How much is truth and how much is fogged by nostalgia and myth? And does truth actually matter? Last year I found a box filled with slides which I could not remember having ever seen before. They were photographs taken by either my father or someone close to him, before I was born. They are memories of a time I was not alive to see. In many of the photographs my dad is younger than I am now: in the army before he met my mother, on a road trip around New Zealand with a friend I cannot recognise, or at a party with a group of lads - 2 of whom I know as friends of my parents. There are photographs of my older brothers and sisters as babies and children, going on trips, walking on our farm. My dad died of cancer when I was twelve so I cannot ask him about these people, about the times he had, or what it was like for him in the army. How do I construct this history, these memories of a life that has ended so that they can be remembered? How can the distance between the past and present be bridged in a poetic and meaningful way?

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...