Posts Tagged ‘Sydney’

Under the Influence

I have one more entry to write about my Christchurch trip, but I made another trip over Labour weekend that got me thinking again about influence, homage, reference and rip-offs in art.

I travelled not so very far away to Middlemarch to see some trains and to take a trip on a vintage Vulcan Rail car on part of the Taieri Gorge Line. Here is the AB663 (train geeks will understand)

Photo P Dawson 2009

Anyway, this area is the edge of Central Otago and it often felt like I was seeing things through the eyes of artists or as versions of artworks I’ve seen.

Example one: (seeing Laurence Aberhart at Middlemarch)BWRabbit
Photo P. Dawson 2009

Example two: (seeing Grahame Sydney at Sutton)Sutton
Photo P. Dawson 2009

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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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With all the news about the government buying back the trains it has brought back a lot of memories of my train hopping days including middle of the night awakenings on a freezing train at National Park as passengers boarded. But its made me think how quickly things have changed. Its within my memory that long journeys were undertaken by train rather than plane or car.  I am all for the government buy-back, except the food on the ferries did improve with the company in private hands.

So it brought me to two paintings of train stations. I have no doubt there is more and probably quite well known rail associated art but these two leap to mind. Firstly, of course Angus’ Cass. There are several interesting points about this, one being that it has been reinterpreted or re-viewed by several other NZ artists including Dane Mitchell (a rubbing of the sign?) and in photography by Peter Peryer. Here is another example.

Cass8/10 (1986) Julian Dashper

Also some time back it was voted New Zealand’s Greatest Painting. I don’t agree, however I wouldn’t know even where to start with what is the greatest.

The other painting is very similar in that it depicts a small rural station. It also brings to mind my Grandfathers’ Tokanui run and the Frames at Glenham. The railway is obviously entwined with our literature as well. In fact last year I visited the lonely little station at Seacliff so poignantly described in many books by Janet Frame. Anyway back to the painting – Wedderburn by Grahame Sydney. This is a photo of the building which has been put back (re-relocated?) where it used to be on the (now) Central Otago rail trail.

All the political angst (including the trains) because its election year is getting to me. I am watching the Charles Bukowski documentary just now “Born Into This” and I found this from “Dinosauria, We”. Kinda says it all… (Bukowski was a postman for a while too by the way)

“We are
Born like this
Into this
Into these carefully mad wars
Into the sight of broken factory windows of emptiness
Into bars where people no longer speak to each other
Into fist fights that end as shootings and knifings
Born into this
Into hospitals which are so expensive that it’s cheaper to die
Into lawyers who charge so much it’s cheaper to plead guilty
Into a country where the jails are full and the madhouses closed
Into a place where the masses elevate fools into rich heroes”

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