Stitch at MTG Hawke’s Bay

Next weekend MTG Hawke’s Bay is going embroidery crazy! Set up in the museum foyer for the weekend will be a community stitching activity, designed by Jo Dixey. Jo was one of only ten students chosen worldwide to train at the Royal School of Needlework, Hampton Court, London in the early 1990s, and went on to attain her City and Guilds qualifications. Not long after, she moved to New Zealand and set up an embroidery practice: teaching, taking on commissions and designing pieces for exhibition. Adding to her long list of accomplishments Jo has recently published her first book ‘Stitch People, a 20-project guide to modern embroidery techniques’. The book will be available for purchase through the museum shop.

Jo’s superb design for the community stitching project portrays six iconic Napier Art Deco buildings including the 1936 Hawke’s Bay Museum & Art Gallery entrance and the National Tobacco Company building, Ahuriri. This activity is designed to allow anyone from experienced stitches to beginners and those who have never tried, to add some stitches to the overall work. This is a child friendly project with easy stitches and colourful wool. Members of the Hawke’s Bay Embroidery Guild will be on hand to guide and support. Once completed, the panel will be gifted to the city through the Mayor’s office.

This project came about through a philanthropic bequest from Marian Holt, long-time champion of the Museum and keen embroiderer. Marian, a Hawke’s Bay local, attended Napier Girls High School and then trained as a nurse and midwife at the Hastings Hospital. Her nursing qualification took her all over the world. At the end of her career, Marian returned to Hawke’s Bay to retire at Puketitiri. The Marian Holt Trust, keen to honour Marian’s legacy and acknowledge her contribution to the Museum and Hawke’s Bay, approached Jo Dixey to develop a public embroidery programme. For two days, Jo researched and drew designs from a selection of embroidery work held in the Hawke’s Bay Museums Trust collection.

For embroidery enthusiasts Jo is teaching two workshops, also next weekend, with unique designs she has drawn from the textile collection. One workshop on Saturday for beginners through to advanced and is based on some of our Indian textiles. The second workshop on Sunday is designed for intermediate to advanced, and is taken from a seventeen century silk embroidery. Jo has pulled out a detail of the background scenery to make a brooch.

During Jo’s time researching the collection she was particularly interested in a rare 700AD Egyptian Coptic tapestry. Jo used this as one of her inspirations, along with other textile pieces, in the development of four different kitsets. These range from kitsets for children through to adult embroiderers and can be purchased exclusively through the museum shop.

On behalf of the Museum, we warmly invite you to come in and add some stitches to the community project. If you are interested in learning more about the art of embroidery with an excellent tutor, we highly recommend enrolling in one of Jo’s workshops. Fun and laughter guaranteed!

  • Stitch at MTG Hawke’s Bay, 2-3 December. Public stitching project available all day
  • Embroidery workshops with Jo Dixey, 2-3 December, 10:30am – 4pm, $50 per workshop. To book call MTG 835 7781 or email
  • Deco Kimono: From the Jack C Richards Collection, a range of beautiful silk kimono from the era of Art Deco in Japan on display now

Coptic Textile detail

Gail Pope – Curator, MTG Hawkes Bay

Published in the Hawke’s Bay Today 25th November 2017



Last week an Arts for All meeting was held at Hastings City Art Gallery. I along with three other staff from MTG Hawke’s Bay attended this meeting, led by Richard Benge from Arts Access Aotearoa. Richard introduced Arts for All – a programme aimed at encouraging museums, galleries, theatres, festivals, etc to improve their accessibility for disabled audiences. There was a small enthusiastic group of people from various organisations present for the first Arts for All meeting in Hawke’s Bay, all keen on looking at ways to make their organisation more accessible for everyone.

At the same time we’ve recently had an Accessibility Audit done on MTG, to look at how well the building does, and doesn’t, work to enable easy physical access into and around the facility. And this report, along with staff ideas and observations, and the Arts for All meeting has highlighted a number of things we can do to improve.

There are some things we can’t change, such as the displays cases in stairwells, although we can look at how we make images and information about the items displayed there easier to access.

But there are a number of things we can do, some quick and easy, while others will take more time, thought and resource. For example there have been ongoing discussions since I came to MTG regarding font size on labels and, while we are generally much better, we’re not quite there yet.

We’re going to get the doors leading to accessibility toilets modified to make them easier to use. And we’ve nearly completely work on adding captions to the Survivors’ Stories film. This will make the film, which is incredibly popular with our visitors, much more accessible for people with hearing impairment and for those with English as a second (or third) language. It’s such a great film – we want to make sure no-one misses out.

We’re also looking at how we plan exhibitions and activities to allow sufficient time to ensure captions are including in all future videos or film in our galleries.

With the library coming to join us at MTG for a few years, this has opened up the opportunity to look at better access to the Century Theatre foyer. And the Council is currently investigating whether a ramp can be installed on Herschell Street – up to the deck outside the Century Theatre foyer.  At the same time, they’re looking at additional accessibility carparks around the museum building.

And we’ve long been aware of issues regarding wayfinding at MTG – these include helping people find access into the building without climbing stairs, where the accessibility toilets are, where the lifts are, how to access additional help if required e.g. a wheelchair or assistance from staff.

All of these are things we’re actively working on, in the hopes that every action no matter how small, can make things a little bit easier for our users and ensure everyone in the community is able to access their museum.

There’s much more we can and, over time will do, to make your museum as welcoming and inclusive as possible. Future plans will include activities such as signed tours, touch tours and autism friendly programming. As always thoughts and ideas from the community about this, or any other matters, are welcome.

Laura Vodanovich – Director, MTG Hawke’s Bay

Published in Hawke’s Bay Today 18th November 2017

photorapher David Frost

Deco Kimono


Today our newest exhibition is open for the public to enjoy – ‘Deco Kimono’ is a small display of six kimono from the Art Deco period. These fresh and bright kimono with strong bold designs would not be out of place today and are a reminder of just how exciting Art Deco design was and still is.

These beautiful robes have all the patterns and motifs you would expect from the Art Deco era. These include geometric shapes, bold colours, and expressive curving lines (characteristic of the late, 1930s period). Traditional kimono motifs, such as stylised birds and waves, were enlarged and set in bold colours during this period, rendering them new and daring.

Hung simply with arms outstretched the clean silhouette of each kimono is highlighted and allows you to see the entire design of both garment and fabric.

Art Deco was a global movement with different cultures around the world influencing the style and feel of the period. Having recently watched a few episodes of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries (highly recommended to me by locals) it’s clear to see the influence of Japan’s minimalist style and clean lines in many of the garments worn in the series.

Late in Japan’s Meiji period (1868-1912), innovations in silk fabric production and dyeing techniques led to the first mass-produced and inexpensive silk kimono. This meant that these ‘new’ kimono were easily affordable and became incredibly popular – worn everywhere from cafes to dance halls.

There’s always more to learn about any subject and this exhibition, like all the others, has also taught me something new. I’d no idea that one production method was to print designs straight onto thread before it was woven into cloth. This technique was an evolution of existing practice and created a blurred effect in the finished image.

The robes on display come from the collection of Professor Jack C Richards, who has previously lent us items from his extensive collection of Lalique vases. Jack also has a large collection of Korean, Japanese and Chinese robes and among these are a small number of kimono from the Taisho period (1912-1926), six of which were selected for display.

Museums and galleries are incredibly lucky to have people such as Jack, who so kindly share their collections and passions – freely making their items available for broad audiences to enjoy.

As part of our ongoing commitment to participate in the Art Deco heritage of the region, we try to ensure there is always something deco related on display over the summer Art Deco Festival period. These robes, along with the Art Deco tea-sets in our front window (with more upstairs), and some examples of Art Deco decorative arts by the Earthquake gallery, mean there is a touch of Deco on every floor in the museum this summer.

Laura Vodanovich – Director, MTG Hawke’s Bay