Thursday, 24 March 2016

Captain Cook's Waistcoat

Monday 21st March

Living history is an often mis-used term but for our delight and delectation, Alison Larkin became Elizabeth Cook, wife of Captain James Cook, navigator, explorer and hydrographer.  She dressed in a hand-made replica costume and told us about her meticulous research to recreate and complete an unfinished waistcoat started by Elizabeth Cook.  The garment was never finished because Cook was sadly killed during his third voyage and the original is now in a museum in the State Library of New South Wales.

The waistcoat is unusual for the fact that it is stitched onto tapa cloth, a traditional non-woven bark cloth from Polynesia.  The cloth that Elizabeth used was a gift from a Tahitian king that was brought back by James from one of his previous journies but Alison had to track hers down from a supplier in Hawaii.  

Whilst Alison had the original but unfinished waistcoat as a guide to the threads and stitching used, the pattern for the garment was part guesswork and part research from another of Cook's waistcoats that is on display at Te Papa museum in Wellington, New Zealand.  Fortuntately, Alison received two grants for her research which allowed her to study both waistcoats first-hand in Australia and NewZealand.

The result is not only a beautiful piece of work, but a historically accurate recreation of how the original would have looked if it had been completed.  We were lucky to be able to handle it - something that would never be allowed in a museum.

Alison also brought with her all her research samples and trial pieces along with some of her exquistite minuture embrodieries.

 Capability Brown Update

Well it was 'hand-in' day for all the pieces of our Capability Brown composite!  Sue Ingles pinned each piece as it arrived and we got our first view of how the whole picture will look.  What a stunning piece of work!  Thank you to Sue Ingles for coordinating this project and to everyone who has contributed.  There will be a small working party to assemble the piece ready for display on Monday 25th April 10am-3pm.  Anyone interested in helping should speak to Sue Ingles.

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