Homemade at Miss Porter’s House
by Roland Bannister, Publicity Officer
Miss Porter’s House grasped the nettle and staged a very substantial nine-day exhibition as part of the National Trust’s 2018 Heritage Festival. Homemade was a telling of the Porter Story through clothing and textiles drawn from the Porter collection. It caught the spirit of the Trust’s 2018 Festival theme My Culture, My Story.
Objects made, decorated, repaired, or repurposed by Florence Porter and her daughters Ella and Hazel were selected from our database – which
now lists all the objects in the house – and retrieved from their assigned storage places for display in the rooms to which they belonged. We can imagine the women finding satisfaction in wearing their homemade clothes to work, and on their holidays.
In the fernery and garden visitors were tempted by handmade jams, and biscuits and other foodstuffs. Other stalls offered tea-pot cosies, scarves, aprons and a range of garments, loosely modelled on the homemade clothes made by the Porter women.
We didn’t try to guess how many visitors might turn up. In the end we counted just over 300, and as any National Trust volunteer would recognise, these ranged from those who made a cursory glance at the treasures from the collection, to those who inspected objects with forensic attention.
We can measure the success of such a venture by the number of visitors, and the amount of money taken, but volunteers also noted the joys of coming together as volunteers, the interaction with visitors, the challenge of making a collection of old stuff attractive to both museum insiders and museum outsiders.
The committee welcomed the support of several sponsors including Projektcreative who donated the design-work on the publicity materials and interpretations, EJE Architects who gave the street banners, and Emily Davis and Kimberley Martz of The Whairhouse of Wickham, who provided several period-styled mannikin heads of hair for the exhibition. The formal opening was quite special as we welcomed our State Member Tim Crackenthorp MP, our Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes, and especially our federal member Sharon Claydon MP, who formally opened the exhibition.
While we feel confident that we succeeded with Homemade, Miss Porter’s House remains aware of the challenges we face. In particular, we ask What opportunities will come our way with the rapid growth of high rise buildings that are sprouting across Newcastle West?
Visit to Miss Porter’s House by Tim Crakanthorp, State Member for Newcastle
Mr Tim Crakanthorp visited Miss Porter’s House on 25 January 2017 to see the works funded by a NSW Community Partnerships Grant. He is featured with the Chair of Miss Porter’s House, Kathryn Pitkin and some of the hardworking volunteers.
Newcastle Herald Article entitled: The house stuck in a telling time warp
Repair work to our throwback house
Repair work to Miss Porter’s House commenced in late November 2016. Please find a link to an article which appear in the Newcastle Herald on 19 December 2016.