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Hessian haute couture

Hessian Dress (Small)

In March 1943 the 3rd Women’s Hospital was established in the former Thomas Walker Convalescent Hospital to provide for the needs of servicewomen. The nearby 113 Australian General Hospital dealt with surgical cases while the Women’s Hospital provided for patients recovering from illnesses contracted while on active service, such as malaria.

Later in the same year a Red Cross recreation centre was opened for patients. It provided a space for women to recuperate and included a craft room where they could engage in handicrafts to pass the time. The City of Canada Bay Museum has a small but fascinating collection of some of the handicrafts produced by the servicewomen. One of the most striking items is an embroidered dress and coat made of hessian.

The 3rd Women’s Hospital closed in May 1946.

A Christmas wish

SCAN0302 (Small)

Surprisingly, from the midst of the horrors of the First World War came one of the prettiest of souvenirs. Embroidered silk postcards were first made at the time of the Paris Exhibition in 1900 and became a popular souvenir between 1914 and 1918.

The postcards were produced in France by French and Belgian women. Panels were hand-embroidered by women and girls at home then sent to factories where they were cut and mounted on to card. The cards provided income for women and were a popular souvenir for soldiers to send home. An estimated ten million embroidered postcards were made during the war.

Generally the postcards were sent through military mail pouches so many of these fragile cards have survived in good condition. Their beauty and link with loved ones ensured that they were treasured by those receiving them.

The postcard, above, was sent from France by Alfred Robert Cassidy to his Aunt Margaret Jeffery in Five Dock in 1916. The sentiments of the card still remain true today.

A tree of memories

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A recent addition to the landscape of Concord Library is a ‘tree’ in the cafe area. The leaves of the tree are made up of historical images of the Canada Bay area taken from the library’s digital collection, Canada Bay Connections.

The tree has been created by the Embroiderers’ Guild NSW, which is based at Concord West, and joins other decorative trees made by the guild at the library.

This is, of course, not the first time that the library’s photographic collection has been used creatively as part of a new artwork. Joanne Saad used images from the collection as part of her ‘I remember’ mural in Fred Kelly Place, while David Capra used elements taken from historical documents in the Local Studies collection to create his work ‘Gold Dust and Gemstones’ in the windows at Five Dock Library.