Most of these ceramic pieces were made in the early-mid 20th century for a rapidly developing tourism market. These objects feature scenes such as the Bath House, Sanatorium, Prince’s Gate, Ōhinemutu and Whakarewarewa, and provide a snapshot of the history of tourism in Rotorua. The collection includes pieces by manufacturers Shelley, Ridgways, Grimwades and others.
Norma Evans: Making do
Norma Evans (1924-2017) came from a family steeped in the ‘making-do’ tradition. Her mother and grandmother were dressmakers; her father a craftsman saddler. Her collection includes a wide range of garments, from hats, gloves, stockings, socks, underwear, school uniforms, coats, scarves, handkerchiefs, ties, trousers, aprons, even netball bibs – many made by Norma and some by her mother, Maud.
As a maker and collector Norma was keen to highlight the “art of women”, expressed through the textile skills that were commonly held by New Zealand women in the mid-20th century.
James Rasdell Blencowe (1871-1945) was a photographer who operated in Rotorua c 1901-1938. His studio was in Arawa Street and he took mainly tourist shots, which were turned into postcards and pictorial booklets promoting Rotorua as a tourist destination.
Blencowe often depicted the cultural experiences offered in Rotorua, including the Guides and popular tourist spots, and also took journalistic photographs for the Auckland Weekly News. Another key subject of his work was the village of Te Wairoa, showing the devastation wrought by the 1886 Tarawera eruption.