This impressive collection of hand-knitted soft toys has been acquired over a fifteen year period from charity and opportunity shops by enthusiast Justine Douglas. Her first purchase was as a teenager from an Op shop in Papakura and the collection has since grown to dozens as she has continued to accumulate toys from all over the country.
Douglas was initially attracted by the pre-loved nature of the toys, this then grew to encompass a fascination with the laboured, time-consuming nature of their manufacture. Each anonymous maker has produced individual interpretations of characters from patterns traditionally found in magazines such as Womens Weekly. The sometimes crude and slightly naive craftsmanship combined with a multitude of textures, colours and accessories makes each of these treasured objects unique.
The collection is evocative, conjuring memories of childhood experiences and long lost companions. It features an assortment of weird and wonderful characters, some familiar and others plucked straight from the imagination. Dancing elephants in tutus, giant bees, rabbits dressed for winter and a bevy of bears, pigs and gollywogs, all resplendent with personalities and the markings of previous care and disrepair.