News & Events

History told with a needle and thread

October 4, 2019

Three years ago a group of women from OCAV’s Rushall Park village, armed with a needle and thread, embarked on a project to showcase their beautiful cottages. Marrying photography, painting and embroidery the women created stunning embroidery panels, which are now exhibited in the village’s community centre to mark the 150th anniversary of the organisation.

Mrs Cathy McCullough, a descendant of OCAV founder George Coppin, and his daughter Lucy who was a formidable woman and became very involved in the organisation, unveiled the embroidery recently.

“The Stitchers, which I gather the group is called, are women that my great aunt Lucy Coppin would have loved to have joined. Whether she embroidered or not,” Cathy said. “Lucy, by all accounts, was a formidable woman, and she enjoyed the company of other determined women. Born in 1873 Lucy was a woman of means and compassion and the Rushall Park village benefited from these characteristics.”

Cathy paid tribute to the Rushall Park women who have created the wonderful embroidery: Margaret Amarant, Veronica Andrew, Helen Austin, Ruth Bannenberg, Jennifer Barden, Meg Eastwood, Jennifer Edwards, Margaret Finlayson, Jan Geard, Patricia Medland, Susan Ross and Sybil Spall.

The group of artists, sewers and embroiderers has stitched together the architectural history of the North Fitzroy village. The women embroidered the 10cm squares, which represent 24 different cottages, including the first cottages built almost 150 years ago.

The cottages were painted by Rushall Park artist Pat Medland, and then printed on fabric. Each image provides a cottage for each of the embroiderers to embellish in whatever way they want.

Some of the women embroidered over the painted image to accurately portray the look of a cottage. Others stressed certain features such as a slate roof. Others accentuated the gardens with bold colours and designs.

The final design features stunning cottages, pathways, trees and the gardens that are such a landmark of Rushall Park. Some of the village’s most iconic cottages and landmarks are featured including the early bluestone cottages, old fire hydrants and signs.

“Three years ago, a group of women residents – some accomplished and others amateur embroiderers, each with a common love of sewing came together to create an exquisite embroidery as the village’s 150th anniversary present to OCAV. I am delighted to unveil this marvellous gift to OCAV – embroidered lovingly and what a tribute to this august organisation it is,” Cathy said.

The apartments are beautiful, with lovely, open and bright rooms, and a balcony for growing plants in pots. I am starting to make my apartment into a home.

– Catherine, Leith Park

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