Suffrage scheme relaunch for anniversary

By Alisa Yongalisa.yong@age.co.nz -
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Community scheme head NZPS Madeleine Slavick, left, Project 607 relaunch leader Di Grant,  NZPS chair Jean McCombie, Toi co-ordinator Corrinne Oliver, and artist Justine Fletcher. PHOTO/ALISA YONG
Community scheme head NZPS Madeleine Slavick, left, Project 607 relaunch leader Di Grant, NZPS chair Jean McCombie, Toi co-ordinator Corrinne Oliver, and artist Justine Fletcher. PHOTO/ALISA YONG

Toi Wairarapa's new home in Carterton is not yet officially open, but organisations are already lining up to use the arts space.

Toi's new "Heart of Arts" space on High St is the proposed venue for a relaunch of Justine Fletcher's "Project 607", a collection of 607 hanging pendants commemorating each Wairarapa woman who signed the third suffrage petition in 1893.

A collaborative project between the Wairarapa branch of the National Council of Women (NCW), the New Zealand Pacific Studio and Toi Wairarapa, organisers hope to display a new configuration of the work, which has previously been displayed in four parts at various locations around Wairarapa, to celebrate the 120th anniversary of the National Council of Women this April.

Project 607 relaunch organiser Di Grant said it was an anniversary that deserved to be celebrated.

"Since the founding of the National Council of Women it's the longest serving feminist organisation in the world.

"We wanted to have a celebration of the founders because it is a big anniversary."

It was hoped the installation will also include information "around that theme of women and feminism and what is happening to women today", Ms Grant said.

Artist Justine Fletcher, who created the work during a residency at the New Zealand Pacific Studio, said she hoped to present the work in a more portable way for the relaunch.

"I've got all these components of the piece, some were sold ... but the vast majority are still there and so I'm going to get a selection of what is left and build something that is supposed to be more portable.

"The idea is to make something in a cabinet form that can be moved around," Ms Fletcher said.

Trained as a jeweller, Ms Fletcher said she used a "statistical approach", and had a strong interest in feminism and geography.

"I'm interested in the historical relevance of all that hard work all those women did not that long ago. I'm quite interested in the way the two genders still seem to be separate."

With help from Wairarapa Archives, she hopes to include profiles of some of the signatories featured in the installation.

Ms Grant said details were still being finalised, but hoped a final decision on venue and dates would be confirmed soon.

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