The McLean & Co Story... July 6, 2015 14:20

The McLean & Co. story started in 1988 in the small Southland town of Tuatapere, when an Arterial Venus Malformation caused a potentially fatal haemorrhage in Rod McLean’s brain. He was a 31 year old self-employed plumber, and his wife Sue was pregnant with their third son. Rod survived, though he required extensive medical, physical and social rehabilitation. Three years later, just as some sense of normality was returning to their lives and Sue was pregnant with their daughter,   Rod contracted Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME), a disease which, when teamed with the after effects of his brain haemorrhage, still  affects his life today.

Having relocated to Oamaru in 1993, and working around the constraints of his illness Rod cared for the children after school and gradually renovated their family home while Sue took on the role of income provider, teaching part-time while the children were young, and later full time. Her respite from the associated stresses of being sole provider came creatively, particularly through her love of vintage textiles.  After exhibiting some of her stitched artworks in 2001,  Sue went on to complete her City and Guilds Certificate in Design and Stitched Textiles. The resulting exhibition ‘Exemplar’ also contained work created in response to her 2006 journey with breast cancer.

Meanwhile, during 2005, the McLean’s heard of a set of Hattersley looms for sale in Lawrence. They purchased and transported them to the Historic Precinct in Oamaru where Rod gradually restored the looms while learning to weave with help from the looms previous owner, a variety of books and much trial and error.

Amid great plans McLean & Co. was formed.

But tragedy struck in August 2007 with the accidental death of their 18 year old son. Rod’s therapy was to build a shed behind the family home to house the looms, and then to weave. Sue’s was to stitch her way through the grieving process, eventually resulting in the exhibition ‘Echoes’, shown first in Oamaru in 2011. She then went on to complete her Post Graduate Diploma in Visual Art at the Dunedin School of Art in 2013, after gaining a TeachNZ study award. Her graduation exhibition ‘Parallel Threads’, in which she collaborated with Rod, investigates the legacy of loss and combines her love of woven and stitched textiles and her belief in the healing powers of faith and creativity.


Today the ‘great plans’ for McLean & Co. have been revisited and revised. Rod and Sue McLean are McLean & Co. – Weave and Stitch, and are proud to offer a range of limited edition textile pieces, for you to purchase and cherish.