Skip to content
All articles

“I need to live up to 200 years, otherwise I won’t fit everything in”

Sitting in the sunbathed conservatory at her villa, Janet is working on her latest project. She’s sketching the drawings for a children’s book inspired by one of her grandchildren. “She wanted her guinea pigs to jump like horses, but I told her that, of course, this was impossible. So, I suggested that we could make them fly.”

Now that she’s officially retired, Janet can explore other outlets for her creative talent.

Illustration is the latest interest of a gifted career that started more than 40 years ago, when Janet did her studies at the Royal College of Fine Arts in London, where she met her husband Tony. They were both headhunted to move to New Zealand, where they started working as designers in the carpet industry.

Janet devoted her career to embroidery, and she’s worked with some of the most famous fashion designers in New Zealand. That’s why it was so important for her to be able to bring her work machinery along when she decided to move to a retirement village seven years ago. “We had visited every village in Auckland. A friend of mine invited us for coffee at Pakuranga Park, and we had a look at this villa. We realised that it was big enough to include a business, so we signed the following day.”

Janet does her designs on the computer, and her embroidery machine creates them automatically on the clothing.
She is currently creating bookmarks with one of her gorgeous designs.

Although she’s officially retired, Janet still does some freelance work as a designer. She’s also a very social person who thrives in a retirement village like Pakuranga Park, with plenty of activities and social gatherings to choose from. “My son says that I need to live up to 200 years, otherwise I won’t fit everything in.”

Janet’s talent was first recognised more than 40 years ago when she won the National Designer Award in the UK for one of her handmade dolls, inspired by the works of Charles Dickens. Since then, she’s made about 40 of these gorgeous dolls.

Janet won the National Designer Award in the UK with a handmade doll of Fagin, from Oliver Twist

Janet loves showing her dolls in exhibitions or talks, but she’s never thought about selling them. Once she was approached by a gentleman that wanted to buy the whole lot for five thousand dollars. “Oh no, it’s just a hobby and they’re not for sale.” replied Janet with her warm smile, incapable to part from her unique creations.

Latest articles

All News
Al fresco Bingo
Remuera Gardens
News
Remuera Gardens
News
01 October 2021

Al fresco Bingo

Remuera Gardens celebrated International Coffee Day on Friday with a special round of Bingo. The residents gathered outside to play a couple of games while they enjoyed a delicious treat, freshly made coffee from the Coffee Guy.
Read more
Happy Grandparents Day!
News
News
03 October 2021

Happy Grandparents Day!

New Zealand Grandparents Day celebrates all the joy and value that grandparents bring to the lives of their grandchildren. Real Living is honouring grandparents today with several displays in our villages. The residents have shared pictures of their favourite moments with their grandchildren.
Read more
Kindness letters to combat loneliness
Epsom Village
News
Epsom Village
News
29 September 2021

Kindness letters to combat loneliness

We’re overwhelmed by the kindness shown by high school student Annabelle Liang. With the help of her friends, she has written more than 90 letters for Epsom Village residents to ease the loneliness of the lockdown. Thank you Annabelle, Jojo, Sebastian and Johnnie from King’s College for such a heart-warming initiative!
Read more