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8 Sep 2020 (10:00) - 14 Feb 2021 (16:00) Add to calendar

Costuming Katherine signBloomsbury Women and the Wild Colonial Girl image by Stephen ACourtBliss image by Kirsty Griffin

This exhibition focuses on two New Zealand productions, Bliss: The Beginning of Katherine Mansfield (2011) and Bloomsbury Women & the Wild Colonial Girl (2018), which featured Mansfield as the central character. It explores how designers Kirsty Cameron and Sheila Horton conveyed different eras of Mansfield’s life and aspects of her personality through costume. Their creations move from the buttoned-up Edwardian style of Mansfield’s teenage years to her love of colour and use of clothing as a costume in daily life.

Katherine Mansfield loved attending the theatre, performed on stage and among friends, wrote short dialogues and acted as an extra in films. Did she ever imagine that she herself would one day appear as a character on stage and screen?

Born in 1888, fashion changed dramatically during the 34 years of Mansfield’s life and Mansfield herself was known to push boundaries with her clothing. She used it as a kind of costume in daily life as well as in her writing to convey aspects of characters. 

“Last night I wore my dress. You cannot think how much I liked it. It is very lovely and there is something almost fairy in it. It makes me feel that wonderful adventures might happen if only one is dressed and ready.” Katherine Mansfield in a letter to S.S. Koteliansky, 26 February 1915

Watch an interview with costume designer Sheila Horton, filmed in the exhibition, here.


Exhibition included in entry to the house.

Katherine Mansfield Birthplace Society membership enables unlimited entry to the house during the membership year, which is great for keeping up with our regularly changing exhibitions. Find out about becoming a member here.


Photographs from Bloomsbury Women & the Wild Colonial Girl by Stephen A'Court.

Photograph from Bliss: The Beginning of Katherine Mansfield by Kirsty Griffin.

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