“Have you any old quilts or textiles on show?”, I asked a helpful staff member at the Southland Museum in Invercargill. “No”, was the reply, “but perhaps you would be interested in this?”, she said, as she shepherded Dot and me upstairs. “The Blind Idealist’s Black Dog” was the intriguing name of an exhibition of costumes made by Jo Torr, inspired by a recent voyage to the Auckland Islands. This is a sculptural interpretation based on the true story of the ill-fated attempt by the Enderby Whaling Company to establish a self sustaining settlement at Erebus Cove on the Auckland Islands in 1849.
This pretty white gown reflects the several weddings which took place over the years the settlers were struggling to make a living.
These beautifully constructed costumes of the settler’s clothing highlight their expectations for their new life in an unknown land. The 300 strong settlement was abandoned three years later. The weather was too cold and wet to grow crops, and with the whaling and sealing industries in decline, there was little demand for the settlers boat building skills.