Archive for November, 2008

Just some fun

I am hoping to resume proper art-related blogging on Monday but today let’s have some fun.

One of my favourite songs when I was little was Alexander Beetleby Melanie. I sing this to my kids although they like it to be Alexandra Beetle. Anyway a while ago I found this – it begins:

“If you’re not familiar with Alexander Beetle, it was one of the poems about his neurotic, cousin-marrying son’s childhood that A.A. Milne wrote early last century. It was later covered as a 1970s hippy folk song by Melanie Safka. And it’s not as heart-warming a tale as I remembered it. Yes, after a presumably unfulfilling day trapped inside a matchbox, lacking food, water, space, and possibly air, the beetle took the first opportunity granted it for freedom AND RAN LIKE BUGGERY.” 

This post luckily hasn’t ruined my childhood memories and is very funny. Also Melanie is quite something and her version of Ruby Tuesday is also a favourite. I like it better than the Rolling Stones original.

For some reason it got me thinking of Marianne Faithful who has been on my radar quite a bit lately (and I am hoping to watch Irina Palm tonight). I had an unusual experience this morning with a woman who reminded me of Marianne and who fervently exclaimed “NO! NO! NO! NO!” when I was contemplating buying Samsara and put me on to something more suitable.


For some reason I always associate the album artwork of Broken English  with Faithfull, which is just as well considering this:

Marianne Faithfull as Maria Teresa in Marie Antoinette

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This has been such a weird week. I have been wandering around in a post operative fog (thanks M. for making me feel better about that) and trying to get some logistical things moving on the relocation front – trying too hard maybe. It does concern me when relocation companies lose emails and have impossible telephone systems. This is where I need a very patient PA who can make these arrangements for me (and find a decent house to go to as well).

On the ‘art’ front and the interests of trying to de-stress, I’ve been reading about Dylan Thomas after seeing the movie “The Edge of Love” in the weekend. The film had good and bad points, but I kept thinking the female leads were horribly miscast. I have no basis for this opinion though but Sienna Miller didn’t seem “weighty” enough to play Caitlin in many respects. When hunting around with google there were lots of opinions from people who knew the Thomas’s which were an interesting read, including this great piece by Nicholas Monson. I’ve also just got Caitlin Thomas’ sober autobiography “Double Drink Story” to read – sobering in itself – and read some yesterday while listening to my favourite album – Cannonball Adderley featuring Miles Davis “Somethin’ Else” (1958) – Autumn Leaves is sublime. 

As for Thomas himself and his work – this is good and I thank him for some words yesterday which resonated for me “The close and holy darkness” .

thomasI like this portrait of Thomas by his brother-in-law Rupert Shephard (1940). It strikes me as a little like Dora Carrington’s painting of Lytton Strachey. A closer look can be found here (The National Portrait Gallery)

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A picture or two

I’ve been thinking a lot about art that says a lot while saying nothing. Some may say this is how all art is, but I got sent this image today

by Alan Maddox

And it reminded me again of that quote from “Angels in America” that “even hallucinations have laws” which of course was immediately challenged. Perhaps there are no laws…?

And another pic – Maddox and Clairmont in a quieter, calmer moment. And you can even buy it here

Maddox and Clairmont by Marti Friedlander

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Some links and stuff

I am still not quite “back in the saddle” yet but two stories in my feed reader today caught my eye.

First at Scoop Review of Books, Jeremy Rose writes about the launch of Field Punishment No. 1: Archibald Baxter, Mark Briggs & New Zealand’s anti-militarist tradition by David Grant with painting by Bob Kerr. I seemed to have featured photos of the Baxter family a bit here (most recently this) but Rose’s final photo of John Baxter, again caught something very special in my opinion.

I found another brilliant post at The Imaginary Museum (Jack Ross). I guess this post appealed because I completely believed the “words for snow” factoid as I read about it in Miss Smilias feeling for Snow by Peter Hoeg and just never bothered to check the ‘truth’.

Thinking of snow and Eskimos always makes me smile about arctic scenes with Penguins or Antarctic ones with Inuit figures. One of my favourites is from “Angels in America”

Harper’s at Prospect Park, hallucinating that she’s in Antarctica. She’s longing for companionship (an Eskimo), but Mr. Lies says there’s none.

Mr. Lies: This is a retreat. A vaccum. It’s virtue is that it lacks everything. Deep freeze for feelings. You can be numb and safe here. Respect the delicate ecology of your delusions.
Harper: You mean like no Eskimo in Antarctica?
Mr. Lies: Correcto. Ice and snow, no Eskimo. Even hallucinations have laws.
Harper: Then who’s that? (pointing across the vast snow at an Eskimo)
Mr. Lies: (Surpised) An Eskimo.

(I was going to call me 2nd daughter Harper but when she was born she just didn’t look like a Harper)

And since we are in the Antarctic, I see Graham Sydney has produced a book of his photos from there


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Things are progressing slowly here and typing is still a little tricky when one of your fingers is in a dressing the size of a banana. I wish I’d had been as organised as Emma and Tom at Small Town Stories who arranged a week of guest bloggers while they were away.

So now I am going to be blatantly derivative and ask for any one out there who may want to do a guest post for me. Subject: Arts and/or Literature (usually NZ but not essential). Get in touch via the contact pageif you don’t have my email. Alternatively send me some good links to other interesting and quirky blogs.

Oh and speaking of derivation/homage/influence and my recent musings on this topic – where does this fall? (which I have just seriously added to my Santa list)

Clairmont’s Couch (2008) by Nigel Brown

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Short break

Thanks for all recent comments. Needing to take a short break to let my hand heal up – still have the finger for now!!

BTW Hutt hospital has crap artwork – Keneperu is much better.

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I managed a flying visit to Pataka in Porirua today. It wasn’t meant to be so quick but I got a phone call just as I arrived about something that needed my attention back up the coast.

I love the name “Pataka” and think it quite fitting for a gallery, even though I don’t think they have a permanent collection as such (although they have a Tuffery Bull and several of his large wood carvings).

As usual there was a lot to see. The photographs by Desiree Dolron of Cuba – Te di Todos mis Suenos (I give you all my dreams) were extremely impressive. The large format camera, long exposures, some computer ‘tweaking’ and exceptional reproduction technique resulted in images I felt I could almost walk into. The interiors were best in my opinion and captured something of the decaying past of Havana. The images on the web simply don’t do them justice.

Ricky Maynard’s photography has been well described elsewhere (and with more depth than I can give). I liked the Moonbird People series. Perhaps they resonated with my own connections to the Muttonbirders of the TiTi Islands in the South of New Zealand. Of these, my favourite was a photo called “The Mission”, but again I have no language to explain why. The close up portraits of the Wik elders were quite stunning too.

Custodians (2005) Ricky Maynard

Finally there were the drawings of Joanna Margaret Paul “Subjects to Hand” (those damn hands again). I feel I should like Paul’s work, but I found much of it insipid, although there were some striking pieces eg Untitled (rose and violet torso) c1982 which features on the cover of the accompanying book. Unfortunately I had to rush off because the highlight of my whole visit today was a circular painting by Paul – “Jerusalem” which I immediately recognised as the accommodation in the old convent up the river. The gallery area where the painting was, was titled “the colourist” (or something) and I wasn’t sure if it was part of the touring exhibition or not. I have emailed the gallery to ask for further details, but the picture it was in a similar style to Paul’s “Inventories” paintings from 1977. For me it was like peering into a familiar room “through a looking glass”.

Joanna Margaret Paul on the road to Jerusalem, 2002
Photographed by Peter Harrison

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