Fashion and Fibres, Island Dress in Polynesia

This event runs from 10:54am on the 19th May 2015, to 5:00pm on the 1st November 2015 and will take place at Captain Cook Memorial Museum, Whitby, North Yorkshire, YO22 4BA. It is being organised by Captain Cook Museum, Whitby, http://www.cookmuseumwhitby.co.uk Phone: 01947 601900.

Captain Cook brought Polynesian textiles to Britain from his great voyages of exploration in the 18th century.  They fascinated contemporaries and continue to resonate today. 

What did Polynesians wear?  Local materialssuch as bark, leaves and plantfibres were used to create and decorate fabrics of surprising delicacy and beauty.  Much of this 'exotic' fabric was given to Cook and the voyagers as gifts. On their return, Mrs. Cook started to embroider a waistcoat for her husband on Polynesian tapaor barkcloth

The exhibition displays a variety of these fabrics, together with a reconstruction of Mrs. Cook’s finely embroidered waistcoat.  European styles of clothing were introduced to Polynesia and some were made from local fabrics, resulting in unique and charming creations.

Mrs. Cook’s waistcoat was never finished.  It is now in Australia.  Alison Larkin, expert embroiderer, examined the original in Australia and undertook to make a full reconstruction for us using authentic tapa cloth.  She followed Mrs Cook’s design with meticulous care.  The result is both stunning and intriguing.