An exhibition of works by Wellington artist Rebecca Holden that celebrates the eight NZ women who ran Aotea Convalscent home in Egypt. Runs from September-November in Masterton and Whanganui.
In this year of the centenary of the First World War armistice, artist Rebecca Holden wanted to create another war-themed arts project following on from ‘Sand in the Apricot Jam’ (An arts project on the NZ Mounted Rifles which toured NZ and was shown in Israel as part of the WW100 centenary there). With it also being the 125th anniversary of women’s suffrage in New Zealand this year Rebecca wanted to undertake an arts project that recognised the contribution of women in the First World War. She found a worthy project when researching the women who ran Aotea, a group of women of the First World War generation who showed initiative, courage and compassion.
During the First World War NZ soldiers, predominantly from the Middle East campaign, who were recovering from wounds and/ or sickness were cared for at Aotea Convalescent Home in Heliopolis, Egypt. It was staffed by 8 nurse volunteers, from Whanganui and the Wairarapa and was funded almost entirely by the goodwill of the people of Whanganui, Wairarapa and Rangitikei districts. Rebecca's grandfather who served with the NZ Mounted Rifles was one of the soldiers who benefited from the care at Aotea Home, when at the time of the First World War armistice in 1918 he was suffering from malaria which he contracted in the Jordan Valley. Aotea was affectionately referred to as a 'home away from home' by the soldiers who were cared for there. It provided a much needed reprieve for the battle weary men.
"In doing this project on Aotea Convalescent Home I not only aim to acknowledge the women themselves but the men they cared for and the communities in New Zealand that supported their efforts" – Rebecca Holden
This arts project consists of works on paper which feature, among other things, portraits of the women of Aotea as well as an installation of nurses' veils representing each of the eight women and which depict different aspects of life at Aotea through hand-rendered drawings on the fabric.
The exhibtion will be on show at Aratoi, Masterton 15 September – 14 October 2018 and then at WHMilbank Gallery, Whanganui from 3rd – 25th November 2018
For further information about the project please visit Rebecca's blog: https://rebeccaholden.wordpress.com/a-home-away/