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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.

veranda
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.

 caselbergpainting
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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