From the Editor March 2013
|Sally wears a dress by Helen Cherry with a Country Road cardigan;
Photographed by Emma Bass; make-up by Claudia Rodrigues; hair by Michael KentFrom the editor
Publisher Hachette is putting out a new book of Aunt Daisy's preserves, NZ's Hottest Home Baker is onto its fourth season and my Facebook newsfeed is choked with skite pics of home-grown veges and home-cooked dinners. The whole world, it seems, is in love with the domestic arts.
Tapping into the zeitgeist is craft lover and columnist Rosemary McLeod, who's on a mission to get us sewing and has written a book called With Bold Needle & Thread (on sale in April) about tea cosies, cushions, aprons and so on. (If that sounds prosaic, it most certainly is not; the craftwork she features is intensely covetable and I wish someone would make me the black slippers with flirty red pompoms.)
Rosemary notes that, in the latter part of last century, domestic skills such as needlework were undervalued by women full of feminist ideals. The new revival, she suggests, is great because these skills will get the recognition they deserve.
And she's right, of course; the line between art and craft is notoriously blurry and top cake decorators and quilt-makers deserve recognition as much as painters and sculptors.
Having said this, I can't help but feel that public recognition of domestic arts kind of misses the point. By definition, domestic arts belong at home. For 99 per cent of us (excluding MasterChef contestants), baking and sewing are something we do, not for the wider world, but for family warm fuzzies. We make a cake because the kids are home and it feels like an occasion. We knit booties to celebrate our new baby. We make jars of jam for the satisfaction of seeing the plummy glow on our kitchen shelves.
The same thing, of course, applies to the wider business of homemaking (of which cooking and sewing are just part). The homes that appear in NZ House & Garden undoubtedly impress our half a million readers but, when I talk to the people who create them, they are almost always playing to a much smaller audience: themselves and their family.
Cathy Gould - one of the clever homemakers in this issue - is typical. Her job, she says, is to create a sanctuary for her whanau, because, "It's bloody hard out there at times".
And so it is. But the hard times are more bearable when you can come home to a calm, creative home like the one Cathy has created. Or even, perhaps, to a pair of handmade slippers with flirty red pompoms.