History of the Guild

The history of The Hobart Embroiderers’ Guild was researched for the Silver Jubilee in 1997 and revised in 2005. The following information has been extracted from that document.

The original register of members of the Southern Tasmanian Embroiderers Guild shows first enrolments were on 14 December 1972.

An Adult Education class entitled 'Creating with Fabrics" was conducted between March and November in 1972, and from this class the decision was taken to form a Guild in Hobart.

Tuesday 13th March and Thursday 15th March 1973 saw two groups begin meeting. Both groups varied as far as expertise went some quite expert, others fair to middling, and still others complete beginners. The guild started on the principle that those who were skilled would help the others, no set work was done but members would do what kind of work appealed - the same principle applies today.

One year later the membership had increased to 35.

At first the Guild met at the old Public Library in Argyle Street and later moved to the Adult Education's new centre at Domain House in 1973. In March of that year several interested people were unable to attend morning meetings and asked for the establishment of an evening group and this was adopted and two groups began meeting. The evening group met at the Friend's School until the end of 1984 and then in various venues up until 1990. In 1990 both groups moved to the CWA Headquarters in Davey Street. The library cupboard was still vastly overcrowded but the area was warm and comfortable. Meetings continued to be held at the CWA until 2001, when due to the sale of the building by the CWA the Guild moved to Guides Tasmania, continuing to meet morning and evening in the Board Room.

The move to Guides Tasmania has meant more room to house our very comprehensive library which is well utilised by members.

It has been most interesting to look back through guild newsletters - April 1972 shows memberships fees $3 with a weekly fee of 25c. Books recommended were listed - available at the State Library. How fortunate the guild members of today are, with the large library available for their use.

The Guild held their first exhibition in the AMP Foyer from January 4-17 1973. It was opened by the Lady Mayoress, and was very successful. The Crafts Association, now named the Crafts Council, was also becoming established in Hobart during this period and they offered assistance with workshops by bringing tutors from the mainland. A member of the Embroiderers' Guild of NSW was brought to Hobart by the Art Gallery for a showing of 'Crafts 70' whereby beautiful examples of creative work from the NSW Guild were displayed. The NSW member also visited schools, gave a lecture and conducted a workshop that many members attended. At the end of 1973 another exhibition was held at the AMP, and again opened by the Lady Mayoress, who expressed great interest in the work produced by the Guild and she donated a box of materials for the use of members. Exhibitions then continued on as an annual event. When the AMP Foyer was no longer available for the annual exhibition, it was held at the Lands Department Building in Macquarie Street, moving from there to Domain House and then in 1997 the venue was once again changed to where it is today - The Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery Bond Store - and exhibitions became a biannual event.

Guild members shared their skills in various ways: by visiting schools and encouraging an interest in embroidery, presenting small exhibitions at several venues whilst organizing and running workshops for Guild members. In 1998 a Workshop Sub-Committee was formed to organize and hold workshops with Tutors either from within the Guild, within the state or elsewhere .

By 1981 four members of the Guild formed a sub-committee to explore the possibility of establishing a fortnightly Junior Group for children aged 10-13 years. The group became a reality in 1982. A convenor and sub-committee of 3 members oversee the running of the group. 2005 saw the group expand by meeting at 2 various venues which coincided with a name change to HEGYS (Hobart Embroiderers Guild Young Stitchers).

Over the years the Guild has had various names: in 1977 the Southern Tasmanian Embroiderers' Guild became the Tasmanian Needlecraft Guild and in 1983 the present name was adopted when the Guild became the Hobart Embroiderers' Guild. In 1995 the Constitution of the Guild was revised and the Guild became legally incorporated.

Interest in the Guild has continued to grow, retaining many members from the beginning of the Guild and new members joining, membership over the years has fluctuated - 1997 there were 90 members, 2005 there were 82 (HEGYS members 2005 were 17).

Members find that having joined the Guild they discover skills they did not know they had, and in turn have been able to share these skills with others.