Sunday, December 29, 2013

Ring Cycle holiday

Watching Harry Kupfer's Ring Cycle: what could be a better way to spend the days between Christmas and New Year. I have a Wagner-loving friend staying and we are spending our afternoons with the Ring, . Our mornings are spent at the local library or drinking wonderful coffee (Allpress) at the Soul Food Cafe. I can't think of a better recipe for a holiday.

It was such a pleasure in particular watching the Kupfer Rhinegold. I could feel the images of the recent Melbourne mardi-gras Ring (that I had so disliked) being overwritten in my brain ...

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Hidden treasure: sculptures in Wanganui

Figures at a gate : Sculpture s at the Wintergarden
I had a Christmas picnic in the Virginia Lake Wintergarden, a magical spot you could so easily overlook  as it is hidden behind the building at the top of the hill. It is definately worth a visit if you are in the area. There is an art school in Wanganui and it is leaving it's mark on the town. The walls at the local backpackers are hung with local artwork and I am sure many others are as well.
Face sculpture

Pukekos and ducks forage in the 'swamp' area at Virginia Lake

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Wanganui Christmas

Black sands at Wanganui beach
On a cold and very windy Christmas Day a picnic on the beach in Wanganui (after delivering visitors to the airport) was not such a good idea. It was so windy you could hardly stand up. Black sand blown horizontally along the beach soon filled your socks and the small family scampering about on the water's edge were soon forced back into their car.

Virgina Gardens Wintergarden
Virginia Gardens looked more promising. On the hillside near the car park stands an art deco structure that looks for all the world like a toilet block but walk inside and you find the Wintergarden,.a small fantastical wonderland.

Masses of red flowers in a well tended greenhouse, a fern house and sculpture garden. There was hardly a soul there on Christmas morning so all the colourful chairs were empty. It was the perfect spot for a picnic.
Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

'tis the season

 Seasons greetings from the hills of Taihape!
Hills behind Taihape at dusk

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Hunterville church

The small town of Hunterville in New Zealand's north island was my mother's home town. On a hill behind the township hidden among large trees stands a red roofed church. The gate was shut but the grass is mown so it is probably still in use. There is no indication of which denomination it serves.

The photograph reminds me of an Edward Hopper painting..
Hunterville church .... reminds one of Edward Hopper's images

Friday, December 20, 2013

1920's Christening robe

Back among the roses in my Mother's garden, my days are spent sorting.

Today I found a wonderful surprise right at the bottom of her camphor chest. It is, I think, my Mother's own christening dress complete with long cotton petticoat (*see addendum). Perhaps her own children were christened in it as well. This 1920's treasure says so much about the lives of my mother's generation.

Christening robe, 1920.

Addendum: It turns out the Christening gown was my fathers. This morning I found a note in the chest that had been with the robe.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Love hearts

Is the party only for adults?
Yes it's only for adults.
Will it just be boring talking?
Yes, it will just be boring talking.
Okay, but can I have a face like yours anyway, with curly lines on the cheeks?
Yes you can. Just wait until I have finished my face then I'll do yours.
And can I have flowers? I want flowers too and a love heart just like yours.
Yes, you can have a love heart and flowers. What colour do you want them?
I want red on the outside and black on the inside. And I want red on the outside and yellow on the inside.And I want stripey lips too.
Hold still then.
Mother and Daughter

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Lost Gypsy Gallery - video

The Lost Gypsy Gallery in Papatowai, southern New Zealand, is a place that, once visited, you will never forget.  I have discovered a little video about the charm of this little gallery, founded and run by Blair Sommerville.

Lost and found gallery

...and more here.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Nelson Mandela in his own words

"Tread softly
Breathe peacefully
Laugh hysterically"
Nelson Mandela
I can't put it better than the ABC: Nelson Mandela seduced audiences with his wit, then often confronted them with his observations. Take a look below at some of his most memorable quotes:
Nelson Mandela: in his own words

Such a remarkable man.

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Melbourne Ring Cycle Broadcasts

Das Rheingold (Photo from ABC website)
Listen to the Melbourne Ring Cycle! Broadcasts are available for 48 hours after being aired on the ABC. Das Rheingold was on this evening.

Wonderful singing and playing ... have a listen.

Friday, December 06, 2013

Portrait of Deborah (II)

Deborah Humble: new portrait
 In Melbourne recently Deborah Humble told me she liked one of the sketches I did of her a few months ago but not the portrait that resulted. 'I think it looks like Samantha with the twitchy nose in the TV show Bewitched', she said, grasping her own nose with a comical expression.

When I painted the portrait (last winter) I was so pleased with the flesh tones that I didn't really consider whether it was a very true likeness. However, when I came back from Melbourne I decided Deborah was right - it did look like Samantha.  So I took out my brushes again and each day as I passed the painting on the easel, I changed it a bit more. Now it looks like Deborah instead of Samantha.
(Deborah has a wonderful rich mezzo voice. Listen to her sing here.)
(Photo from artshub)

Looking like Samantha
Samantha from Bewitched

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Dunedin folk

From: Otago Daily Times

The Goddess of Good Fortune must have been guiding me when I decided to go to Dunedin in New Zealand to study art. Not only is the Dunedin School of Art exceptional but the people of Dunedin are as well.  They are friendly without being intrusive and helpful without making you feel indebted (as the article in the Otago Daily Times to the right shows).  

Like many others who study in Dunedin making the decision to leave was very difficult and my time there is fondly remembered.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Richard Tognetti's words

Richard Tognetti
I am most amused to read the blurb by Richard Tognetti in the 2014 Australian Chamber Orchestra brochure. He writes: "...we will play music that aims to remove impurities from your soul, raise spirits in troubled times,offer aspirations to the distressed, honour the departed,suggest an alternative to mainstream religious dogma, motivate courageous exploits, give strength to the forlorn, bring maturity to errant teenagers, and alter the course of rivers...".
I subscribed, of course.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Tall poppies

Push down the barriers and you are bound to get bad press. A review of the Yoko Ono Exhibition by a Sydney art critic listed her accomplishments but sounded bored. Yoko Ono and her work are wonderfully passionate and very human, quite the opposite of boring (just as Nietzsche and Wagner were fun although you'd never know it reading the critics).  I was at the Yoko Ono exhibition again today (it is on at the Museum of Contemporary Art until February) and once again it was full of thoughtful or smiling faces. Or laughing faces, those worn by people trying to play chess at the tables laid out in the the first room. All of the pieces were white, so there were no losers.

From the Exhibition:
We're all Water  by Yoko Ono.

A very long line of identical bottles part filled with plain water and with names on the bottles.

You read along the line. Next to Socrates is Marlene Dietrich, ...

Frieda Kahlo .... Mary Shelley ... Osama bin Laden ...

Monday, December 02, 2013

Yoko Ono: War is Over (If You Want It)

Yesterday I saw the Yoko Ono exhibition War is Over (If you want it) at the MCA in Sydney. I can usually only last half an hour at art exhibitions but Yoko Ono's show was so interesting and so moving I stayed for most of an hour.

Yoko Ono requires her audience to think for themselves, that's what is so wonderful about it. She leads you by the hand, shows you her vision, then asks you to think about it. So you do. You stand there in front of something that might seem quite mundane and search through your soul's thoughts. You get into conversations with your next door neighbour, standing as you are wordless and pondering.

In one room there was a plastic maze in the center of which was a desk with a phone. As you go in you are requested to remove your shoes and informed that  the phone may ring while you are in the maze. If so please answer it as Yoko is ringing regularly to speak to her audience. She will speak to you for 10 minutes. I found myself standing in the maze, wishing that she would ring so I could tell her how moved I was by her art and how lucky I felt being able to experience it.

Like a lot of exceptional art, you can't just read about it in a book, you have to be there and experience it yourself.