Remembering Ivy Pollard

Ivy Pollard, Collection of Waitaki District Archive 5934

Oamaru cemetery is not only the place of rest for the town’s early settlers; it is also the place of rest for the town’s more recent citizens. Many of these people had an impact on their fellow townsfolk and helped the development of the town in areas such as education, culture and the arts; Ivy Pollard was one of these citizens and is remembered considerably for her contribution to education, her artistic pursuits and her linking of the two.

Ivy Pollard was born in England on 30 March 1902; her mother was a teacher and Ivy and her brother were trained in creative arts from a very early age. According to Ivy, painting, music and literature were daily activities for the pair.

After the death of her mother, Ivy, by then a young woman, relocated to New Zealand with her father. The family established themselves in Christchurch where Ivy eventually attended Canterbury College (Canterbury University) and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts, followed by a teaching diploma. Sometime after completing her diploma Ivy moved to Oamaru where she took up a teaching position at Waitaki Girls High School in 1933. While in this position Ivy taught history, social studies and economics; first in the Junior School and then in the Senior School.

Ivy proclaimed that her practice of the arts was closely related to her philosophy as an educator. She believed: that “education should fit one for living the whole of life”; that “mind, body and hand should be trained to develop the whole being”; and that “everyone is naturally an artist”, claiming “training in the arts is a vital necessity for good living”; Ivy’s “art” was textile art.

Ivy studied textile arts all over the world. In the early days of her artistic pursuits she learned spinning and weaving, this was made possible through the acquaintance of a David Patterson who was the manager of the Oamaru Woollen Mill. Mr Patterson let Ivy visit the mill and also gave her the use of a small four heddle loom. Ivy then continued her pursuit into the art of spinning and weaving while completing postgraduate study in Melbourne in 1943. She undertook training at the Melbourne Institute of Technology; she did not have to pay for her lessons in Melbourne as she was prepared to teach the artistry she had learnt.

In 1951, a few years after her time spent in Melbourne, She went to England to study embroidery at the Royal School of Needlework, after which she travelled around Britain with the purpose of seeing famous pieces of embroidery art. After this trip Ivy felt fully equipped to train others in textile art.

At Waitaki Girls High School she helped establish a textile component to the Home Life course; also taking adult education and evening classes in embroidery. Ivy also formed a local Embroiders Guild; through which she established school holiday classes for the study of embroidery. Ivy retired as a high school teacher in 1956.

During her retirement years Ivy Pollard designed embroidery works for St Luke’s Church and the Oamaru library and for over twenty years exhibited with the North Otago Art Society. She was also involved in judging embroidery work at the local A & P Show and helped establish a textile section in the show for teenage girls.

Ivy Pollards concept of education was one that centred upon training to earn a living, but included the intelligent use of leisure time. She believed that the pursuit of textile art was a good way to develop quality of character.

Ivy Pollard passed away on 17 February 1984, leaving a substantial financial bequest to both the Forrester Gallery and the North Otago Museum. She also donated her significant embroidery collection to the Museum.

All information in this article comes from the North Otago Museum Archive and local information sources.

Sources for this article:
Ivy Pollard (1950). ‘Notes by Miss Ivy Pollard’. North Otago Museum Archive, n. 5121.
Otago Daily Times (12 March 1984). ‘Miss I M Pollard’. North Otago Museum Archive, n. 1282.
Southern People, a Dictionary of Otago Southland Biography (1998). ‘Pollard, Ivy Mary’, p. 393.

Written by Shanann Carr, Curator of Archives February 2009 to June 2010.