Posts Tagged ‘Brasch’

Tour of the Cages

So much as been happening that I have been incredibly slack on the blogging front. I have seen a lot of art, been out and about a lot (for me) and have had an incredible banquet of ‘food for thought’. More prosaically I started ukulele lessons (woohoo) and as it seems spring is on the way so thought I’d better do some pruning and gardening.

Last week was a week of McCahon and Brasch. Managed to get to Peter Simpson’s excellent lecture on the relationship between Charles Brasch and Colin McCahon. A good opportunity to see a few images I hadn’t before but also to chat to a few people and note that there are an inordinate amount of men with goatee beards and glasses there. I took 8 pages of notes but being there was the thing. Later in the week I raced to the Hocken library on a Saturday morning (‘sorry officer I am trying to get to an exhibition before the gallery closes at noon’) to see a showing of Brasch’s private art collection as donated to the Hocken collection. The McCahon pieces that stood out for me were a pen and ink wash three Marys at the Tomb, a 1949 Crucifixion and Nelson Hills 3. The later was amazing and for once you could get super close to see the work, its layers and brushstrokes.

Following on from that I had a Dunedin Public Art Gallery(DPAG) week. A great meeting regarding some research I am doing and many many more topics and then an informal opening for Joanna Langford’s “The Landless” installation on Friday night. The opening was a bit of culture shock. The installation was ok. Using the “What is the artist trying to do? Do they achieve it?” way of looking at art, I come up with a ‘maybe’.  I found the artist’s installation in the Rear Window space on Moray Place much more successful. As usual though ‘what do I know?’

As for culture shock – it was good to meet some longtime e-correspondent arts people and lots of new ones. I had a big blog post written in my head about it all, regarding touring the art cages and young artists, but really it comes down to the fact that I am an observer not a participant. There were a few who I’d love to talk way more with (and a few I wouldn’t). I think this cartoon sums it up best.

HatTip to Blackwattle Boy for pointing out the cartoon to me.

Finally I did a very quick studio visit but I want to write more on that! It deserves a separate post.

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I noticed

Hocken Lecture 2009

Patron and Painter: Colin McCahon and Charles Brasch. Dr Peter Simpson.
Burns 1 Lecture Theatre, Monday 27 July, 5.30pm.

I will be there!

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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


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On Saturday I managed to get to one of the Heritage Festival events here at the Caselberg Trust Cottage at Broad Bay.

The cottage is the former home of John and Anna Caselberg (poet and painter) and is located beside the original crib (bach) owned by Charles Brasch. Brasch left the Caselbergs his home on his death in 1973, but it was subsequently sold and the Caselbergs bought the little cottage next door.

This tiny house is now a residency for writers and visual artists. Poet, Michael Harlow, is currently in residence. It is a lovely property. Very small but with a gorgeous view, I could see myself writing there. It is a pity that it’s not the Brasch home with its history but I take the position that its great just to have another residency. I have my usual reservations about residencies in general though.

There were two speakers on the day. Alan Roddick is Brasch’s literary executor and told the love story of how Brasch came to Broad Bay. A sadly unspoken love for a marine biologist at nearby Portobello bought him frequently to the area and a desire for a place by the water. Many literary luminaries visited Brasch here and there is a cabbage tree that RAK Mason planted by the veranda. Ruth Dallas wrote a series poems about the place as she used to look after it for Brasch.

Brasch, Stead and Frame on the veranda, Broad Bay. (Hocken Collections)

I have checked and the neither the original Brasch cottage or the cabbage tree appear on the local council’s lists of heritage buildings or significant trees. I know they can’t list everything but it seems an oversight.

The other speaker was Wayne Seyb, a painter who was a close friend of the Caselbergs and worked closely with Anna. Wayne spoke beautifully about Anna’s art and showed some of her paintings. Although original, I could see her father’s influence (Woollaston) and also of McCahon (who taught her at one point). I very much liked them and their theme of struggle with the landscape. Wayne was an interesting speaker and I totally agreed with his progression of NZ painting.

Harbour Cone from Broad Bay– Anna Caselberg

It was a great day, tea and cupcakes included. But I left with a little sadness and an envy of having such a space to think and write and contemplate. As with Anna’s paintings sometimes there is just a need for space.

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