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Captain Cook’s waistcoats

Thursday 9 February 2017, 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm

Recreation of Elizabeth Cook's map sampler by Alison Larkin

Recreation of Elizabeth Cook’s map sampler by Alison Larkin


Alison Larkin is an award winning embroiderer from Hull, England, who explores history through her needle and thread. In 2015 Alison received an award from the Society of Antiquaries of London to visit Australia and New Zealand to study three waistcoats associated with Captain James Cook, including one in Te Papa’s collection and one embroidered by Cook’s wife, Elizabeth.

Alison is visiting us again this February, and will present an illustrated talk on her findings. In her lecture she will focus in particular on Elizabeth Cook whose embroidery reflected the travels of her adventurous husband. Elizabeth traced her husband’s voyages in stitch on a map sampler, and was embroidering a waistcoat made from tapa cloth that Cook had bought back from his voyage to Tahiti, when she heard the news of his shocking death.

Alison has patiently re-created these two pieces, both of which have been exhibited at the Captain Cook Memorial Museum in Whitby, England. Through the process of recreation she has discovered much about these two inspiring historical figures, Georgian dress, embroidery and fabrics.  

You will also have the opportunity to view items from Te Papa’s collection.

Further reading on Captain Cook’s inspirational waistcoats can be found in a post from Claire Regnault, Senior Curator – NZ History & Culture

Feature image: Detail from: Waistcoat, 1755-1765, England, maker unknown. Gift of Mrs T Matthews, 1967. Te Papa PC001529.



Thursday 9 February 2017
5:30 pm - 7:00 pm
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