Old, New, Borrowed, Navy Blue is an exciting collaboration between the Navy Museum and the University of Auckland’s Art History department and is an endearing exhibition that shows how Navy tradition and pride is entwined in personal life.
As part of their Art History paper in Art Writing and Curatorial Practice, Honours students Georgia Casey and Maree Schwencke approached the Navy Museum with the initial inspiration for an exhibition showing how Navy tradition and pride is entwined in personal life. The link for the exhibition between the Navy and weddings is an personal one for Georgia Casey. ” I have always had an interest in maritime history, but the marriage component was inspired by my maternal grandparents’ love story. My Lithuanian-American grandpa met and married my Kiwi grandmother during World War Two while he was serving in the U.S. Navy and she was working as a nurse. luckily he survived the war, but stories of the struggles of being married during the war have always stuck with me, so I felt a personal connection to the subject and wanted to explore it further.”
Maree Schwencke’s husband served in the Royal New Zealand Navy for 7 years. “Hearing Trajan’s stories made me interested in showcasing parts of the Navy not usually shown and also the personal side of things. We hope that’s what Old, New, Borrowed, Navy Blue will do.”
The partnership with the Navy Museum has been invaluable for Georgia and Maree and has brought a new dimension to the use of the temporary gallery in the museum. With support from museum staff Georgia and Maree have experienced the amount of time, thought, organisation and work that goes into curating an exhibition from scratch.
“I didn’t imagine this curatorial experience to be so intense, but with the help of the people at the museum we have been supported and guided through this new and exciting experience” commented Georgia.
Maree shares the same sentiments as Georgia and adds “It’s all worth it though. It’s an incredible and harrowing experience going through the personal collections of donated photo albums, personal effects, literally holding history and someone’s life in your hands.”
Old, New, Borrowed, Navy Blue is an endearing exhibition that shows the coalition between service life and personal life using photographs, documents and items from the Navy Museum and personal collections.
Maree Schwencke and Georgia Casey going through photos for their exhibition.
One of the couples featured in the exhibition are Leading Wren Ngaia Stevens (Stevie) and Petty Officer Ian Herd. Their wedding in 1965 was memorable for many reasons. Herd almost didn’t make it as he was on board HMNZS Royalist which had broken down near the Solomon Islands. The New Zealand Herald stepped in and flew him and two other stranded grooms home in time for their trips down the aisle. Stevie is believed to be the first women who remained in service after marriage, before this date women had been expected to leave the Navy once married. Here are the happy couple almost fifty years later in front of their wedding photo which is on display as part of the exhibition.