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Archive for June, 2009

I am having a difficult time adapting to southern small town living. Firstly the weather, I never seem to get warm, ever! Also the people are quite different and I am having to learn a whole lot of social nuances which I’ve never been very adept at. The kids are slow to settle in at school and kindy. My oldest who used to LOVE going off to school now hates it. It all makes writing /blogging difficult.

I really am trying to adapt but really its a constant struggle. My short weekend trips into Dunedin are the saving grace. There is the rush to fit everything in before scooting home and straight back into domestica, but there is always so much to do.

This weekend I stopped by the awesome University Book Store (UBS) and splashed out on some great sale books. The Glass Houseby JC Sturm, New Dreamland: Writing NZ Architecture, edited by Douglas Lloyd Jenkins and Jane Ussher portraits. I could spend hours in that shop really I could.

Then off to the museum across the road. I wanted to check out the last days of Andris Apse’s Antarcticaphotos. I’d seen some in the Sinfonia Antarctica exhibition at the Dowse but altogether they made more of an impact. I love the Otago Museum and an illustration of why, was that there was a small step under a photo of penguins so that kids could step up to get a better look.

I was going to write a post a while ago comparing Otago Museumto Te Papa but that wasn’t really fair (comparing apples with oranges). A few observations though, my kids like this museum better even though its not directly aimed at kids or “theme parked”. OK maybe the butterfly area is a crowd pleaser but the associated stuff is educational and seems to please many age groups. Personally I like the traditional feel, in that you can look at tattoos and hair garments from the Marquesas and ancient greek pottery as well as the New Zealand and local Otago displays. I have two favourite parts – the Victorian “Animal Attic” and the People of the Worldgallery which has a current focus on collecting, collections and collectors including a display on Charles Brasch and his grandfather Willi Fels.

This is NOT a critique of Te Papa which is a different kettle of fish, but just how good the Otago Museum is at getting the details just right.

In my attempts at assimilation here I looked up some of Baxter’s Dunedin poems and with some help found this from Pig Island Letters (2) supposedly written with the Scroggs Hill area in mind (between Brighton and Mosgiel). Somehow it fits.

Her son is moodier, has seen
and angel with a sword
standing above the clump of old man manuka
Just waiting for the word

angelsword

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Frida’s Suitcase

Frida’s Suitcase

An archive of items by Frida Kahlo, which include suitcases, recipe books and jewelry, is the subject of a new book, “Finding Frida Kahlo: Diaries, Letters, Recipes, Notes, Sketches, Stuffed Birds, and Other Newly Discovered Keepsakes.”

suitcase

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I Noticed

I noticed a new exhibition on at DPAG of interest (to me) Russian Art in New Zealand.

The exhibition includes works by Marc Chagall, Wassily Kandinsky, a cluster of major works by Natalia Goncharova and the largest collection of Russian Ikons ever shown in New Zealand

icon
Artist unknown Icon. Deesis Triptych late 18thC. (centre panel) tempera on gesso on limewood, Collection Dunedin Public Art Gallery

Its interesting as a comparison or perhaps juxtaposition to the I Was Russia exhibit and I will report back on both properly at some future point.

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Jerusalem

I am reading the book by John Newton “The Double Rainbow” about Baxter and the Jerusalem Community on the Whanganui river and right now am listening to the “Playing Favourites” author interview with Kim Hill (audio found here). Its a dense book and not a very easy read. For me this is because it requires concentration not a zillion minute-by-minute interruptions. So far its rather wonderful though.

So earlier today I went to my still disorganised bookshelves to look for my copy of Jerusalem Daybook and found all my Baxter and related books had been conveniently shelved together (not by me). I have had quite a trying and stressful and day and was unhappy to find JC Sturm beside Mike Minehan. I was just about to “have a go” at the shelver when I realised that a) I needed to get some perspective – they are just books and b) if we move again (which is what I desperately want to do – to a bigger house) that they’d just get messed up again and I should really be thankful they are shelved at all, and that I have a house, and books, and shelves etc etc.

Then again sometimes recently it feels has felt tempting to leave all my worldly goods (incl the tux in the wardrobe) and take-off up river.

Its just winter I imagine, and slight cabin fever.

jerusalem

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One Day Sculpture

The little known final event in the One Day Sculpture series

smlsnowman1
Mosgiel 16 June 2009

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I got an email today from someone who stumbled across my blog having found themselves mentioned. I re-read the entry and it seems awfully ingenuous now. Oh well. The topics and writing here are fairly uneven.

Due to a ‘series of unfortunate events’ and bloody cold weather I have been somewhat unmotivated to blog. I have seen art, “I was Russia” at DPAG was good. I saw it on the opening day and floundered a bit with it because of the lack of explanatory written material – not even a photocopied page. I will go back , but I particularly liked the collective Factory of Found Clothing, which in part, dealt with artifacts.

FFC
Image from FFC.

I have been thinking a lot and writing a lot about the juncture of visual art and literature of late. While making another attempt to tidy up my bookshelves today I came across a book I picked up a while back, mainly because there was Clairmont woodcut print in it (The Birth of the Bomb Aug 1979). A crazy book made by William Millet a B29 pilot who flew over Japan post bomb. Things of iron & things of green, Nucleonic narrative about love and war, Things of iron like war and things of green like love is described as follows:

“Limited ed. of 1000 copies signed and numbered by the author. “The entire books was designed and printed by the author-publisher-designer William Millett using Garamond-Jenola & Caxton type faces on his Arab Letter-press & offset printed on a Heildelberg [sic] offset & part composed on an IBM golf-ball typesetter. The paper used Churston cover paper in the main.”–p. 4. Case bound and sewn in 4 signatures. Central hole in the front cover reveals the words of the title from the half-title page”

It made me think of a conversation I heard on the Kim Hill show last Saturday with Sherman Young. This book is an artifact in itself but also full of ideas and art from Hanley, Brown, Clairmont, Blair, Frizzell and others.  It looks a bit manky in today’s high production value world but I like it. When I pick it up, I am holding something important. Well that’s how it feels. It also makes me feel its from a time when people cared. OK, people still care but maybe not to collectively and widely. Its like we are numbed to the horrors of the world now. Maybe we have been so inundated by words and images but also distanced from wars, famines, diseases by our TV screens. I really don’t know. I am glad I have this book though.

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I noticed

The National Gallery of Victoria is showing Dali. Can this come here please? I’d travel to see it within NZ…

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