Wairarapa's 607 suffragettes are now immortalised in artworks throughout the region.

Wellington artist and jeweller Justine Fletcher has completed four installations commemorating the Wairarapa women who signed the third suffrage petition in 1893, eventually winning New Zealand women the right to vote.

Her works feature a collection of hanging pendants - 607 in total - representing each signatory, and bearing the name and home town of each woman.

The installations are at the Greytown Public Library, the West Taratahi Community Hall, Food For Thought Cafe in Masterton and the Memorial Hall in Eketahuna - representing the four districts of the Wairarapa electorate where the suffragettes lived.


"I think [the art works] represent an example of something proactive which lead to change for the better," said Fletcher, who is the Friends of Aratoi Fellow for 2014.

"We need more of that in society today. It's good for a community to remember its history and the people who brought about change."

Fletcher fashioned the pendants mostly out ofrecycled objects, such as old crockery and cutlery, bottles, glass bottle caps, drawer handles, jelly moulds and decorative ornaments.

All objects used were sourced from Wairarapa, mostly from second-hand shops.

"I'm a bit of a magpie," said Fletcher, who trained as a jeweller in Milan, Italy.

"I love collecting and working with discarded items - and making something new out of a practical object."

She said she specifically chose household objects to represent the domestic duties the suffragettes would have been expected to perform.

"Back then, a woman's home was her domain," she said.

"That was how their lives were centred.

"The suffragettes would have led very busy lives - so they would have had to be very determined to come together and sign that petition."

Fletcher said the installations have so far received positive feedback from the community.

"People are definitely interested, and are stopping to have a look.

"I intended the pendants are to be looked at and touched, and be accessible.

"It's not just a gallery exhibition - it represents people who were part of the community."

The installations will remain in the community until July 14, when they will be collected and displayed at Aratoi.

Fletcher hopes the pendants will remain in Wairarapa following the exhibition, and will be worn as necklaces or brooches.

Her next project is an exhibition at Toi Poneke Arts Centre which will feature a "chandelier-shaped" installation commemorating the Wellington suffragettes - all 1260 of them.

For more information on the installations, or if you would like to claim one of the pendants, please contact Justine Fletcher on 027 381 3409, or via email at justine.liz.fletcher@gmail.com.