The Eleventh Hour
The news that New Zealanders had been waiting finally came through on the morning of 12 November 1918. Germany had surrendered and signed an armistice with the Allies the previous day. At the eleventh hour of the eleventh day in the eleventh month, peace was promised. In Wellington the signal guns went off at 9.am. People quickly deserted their desks and benches and counters. Our people, who had sacrificed and endured so much, were looking towards a brighter future. From far-flung theatres of war, the men and women who had served returned home to their families and friends never forgetting those who were unable to return.
Artist Nicole Abbott reflects on the momentous events of 100 years ago through a series of intricate handcrafted creations. Eleventh Houris an insightful look at imagery, colours, materials and techniques from ‘yesteryear’ layered with the artists own contemporary input. A tone of memory occupies the works that call to existing memorial traditions as well as the conditions of the country recovering from battle.
The collection juxtaposes reminders of the horror, harshness and brutality of war with the soft, homely, safe and recognisable material of pure New Zealand wool. Although the techniques employed are largely familiar and traditional, the bold contemporary design aesthetic makes these pieces unique and engaging.
The established trope of the poppy is repeated and adapted, symbolising New Zealand lives lost in the conflict. In Too Many Poppiesand Mini Poppiesthe individual poppies are presented on woven wreaths; though apparently identical, on closer inspection each is subtly different, embodying the individuality of the many kiwis lost. The twelve white poppies in 12 Nurses represent the twelve kiwi nurses killed in the line of duty, while the conscientious objectors and deserters who were killed for their want to not fight are embodied in black poppies.
Nicole Abbot’s knitted works also address the conflicted feelings of those who returned home. 540 individual crocheted discs make up Reunion (The Young Love Crochet), with retro greens, browns and oranges that harking to past eras forming the backdrop for the close up of a couple reunited. The delicacy of connection within the work indicates how intrinsically we are tied to our loved ones and how that structure may crumble if one or more disc were to be missing.
11.11.18, Armistice Day, marks 100 years since the end of The Great War, an important time for memorial and reflection. ‘Eleventh Hour’ runs from Thursday November 8 to Saturday November 17. The Preview is Thursday November 8 from 6.30pm.