Saturday, May 31, 2008

Art with artists

It's strange living on the sea and not having a horizon. The Marlborough Sounds at the top of the South Island where I am taking part in an art retreat has many fingers of land reaching out into the sea and Lochmara Lodge is deep inside and the bush covered hills give an enclosed feeling which doesn't sit well with me. It does give a better insight to the NZ character of introspection though. In saying that it is a beautiful place, the sun comes late preceded by a mist that hits the ridge opposite and seeps down through the trees and hangs above the mirror of water. Seals and dolphins visit, breaking the mirror for a while and the cruising gannets leave a shaft of white and boil of water in their headlong dive.
The artists are similar, coming out of their bush studios to feed a while and talk of stone fractures and am I really a sculptor and those wekas are such funny birds, stealing my biscuits and did you see Deborah in the bush wrapping an old tree stump as if a bandage is going to bring it back to life.
I feel at home with them. They have the same anxieties and insecurities but with faith that what they are doing can make a difference. I'm happy so far with what I have done (I would show you but the camera is buggered, I'll try and borrow one), still 5 days to go so should finish it in time.
It's dinner time and in the lounge musicians are playing guitar, violin and harmonica. Beautiful.A

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Sculpture at Lochmara Lodge

Denise has left for Australia to visit her Dad and this morning I'm off to Lochmara Lodge for their annual art retreat. They invite 15 to 20 artists, from musicians to weavers to painters to sculptors, to work in their beautiful Marlborough Sounds environment and leave the finished product for sale in the bush or gallery. The 11 acres of bush walks are already dotted with sculptures and it will be a reunion with Manuella for me, a sculpture I made 2 years ago. The opportunity to sculpt is worth it but it's also the living and working with other artists that makes the 2 weeks so valuable. I am making one of my wooden construction sculptures and so am taking all the timber and tools on a 7 hour drive, ferry trip across Cooks Strait and then boat trip to Lochmara as they don't have road access.
The things we do!

Thursday, May 22, 2008


Boo Hoo, not enough in the overnight budget from the Finance Minister for those who are struggling. It doesn't matter a damn to me, I'll make my own way no matter what the policies are but I can't help feel responsible for those on a low fixed income. The opposition, well ahead in the polls, were irresponsible in saying they would give $50 a week so dear Mr Cullen had to empty the coffers to play catch up. I don't envy the Finance Ministers' job no matter who gets in at this years election.
It doesn't help that our Australian cousins are doing well on the back of a huge mining boom and the Government is being free and easy with the money. We just can't compare our little economy with theirs.
Michele and Petra if you are out there please email me, I lost your addresses in the computer meltdown

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Brick Bay Sculpture Trail

With the view of tendering a sculpture proposal I visited the Brick Bay Sculpture Trail an hour north of Auckland. Set in a valley with an accompanying vineyard it is beautifully done with dense bush, open fields, kauri forest, ponds and lakes and has attracted all the big names of NZ sculpture. At the beginning they have constructed a glasshouse over the largest pond where you can taste the wines or have a coffee and platter while you peruse the artists bios or just watch the ducks and geese paddling amongst the kinetic sculptures.

I sound like I'm writing a travel brochure but it is well laid out, well documented and well administered if a little lacking in humour and sedate. It needs one of those kinetic sculptures like a mad womans' breakfast in front of the Georges Pompidou in Paris, who was it, Tanguay? can't remember except that he was Swiss.
My favourite was Gregor Kregars' Brick Bay Polyhedron, above, with it's polished stainless steel facets reflecting all parts of the site into one giant collage.
So it's onto the drawing board to design a site specific work and hope it gets accepted.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Film review

Managed to catch Todd Haynes' film 'I'm not there' about the life of Bob Dylan and although ambitious and good in parts it doesn't quite come off.
Showing his multi-faceted character through the voice of six different actors was always going to be difficult but it was only a brilliant performance by Cate Blanchett, with her delicate build and perfect skin, as the twitchy, haunted Dylan of the late sixties that really came off. Was this because she was allowed to look and represent the poet as he was and is most famous for, whereas the other actors had to portray aspects of his character less well known. I think so.
Don't get me wrong, it's a must see and I applaud the courage of the director, it's just sometimes I said to myself "I'm not there".
And the lyrics..... the man is a genius!!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Gallery hunt

Off to the big city of Auckland today with my portfolio under my arm and trepidation under my heart. Hate it, rather be boiled in oil! The gallery I chose because of their wonderful space has rejected me after five months of deliberation. Is that good? Not the rejection, the time it took. And the reason.... 'they are too stretched'. A rack comes to mind! So I'll traipse the galleries and posture and slaver and wish I was home filling more nooks and crannies with sculptured dreams.
Wow that sounds depressing, it's not, I'm actually working out in the garden on pieces I want to weather and I wouldn't be anywhere else.....except maybe the Cook Islands....and Tahiti would be good.......

Not the Art News again

I received my new Art News New Zealand magazine this morning and for a moment I was excited because it was in a sealed plastic bag just like those ones on the rack in the bookshop with the impossible tits (not the bookshop). I was by myself in my own home, well it's actually rented but it smells like me, and I still furtively looked around to see if anyone was watching as I reached out to pick it up. Now I'm a fuuly (that'll do!) subscripted member of this said magazine and it seemed like a good idea at the time to find out who the art literatis' favourite sons (or even daughters) are but I don't feel like turning a page of the weighty tomb (I did so spell it right!). I don't think it will even light the fire in the morning and sure won't crinkle enough for loo paper. It did look good on the coffee table but already there are assorted chip packets, scummy dishes and other teenage paraphernalia lying on top of it and who am I trying to impress, my sports mad friends?
I might have to try to read it and be depressed again by it's carefully selected seriousness. I wonder when they write about me (and they will!) whether they will find reasons and big words about why I make my art. I hope so then I will know. Shit I enjoy doing it and sometimes just sometimes it looks and feels good (my Mama told me there'ld be days like this).
Mostly it just rains.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Disaster! A hardware malfunction has wiped everything off our computer and because we were slack and thought it would never happen to us, apart from some photos we have no backup.
Perhaps it 's a sign YOU ARE BECOMING TOO RELIANT ON TECHNOLOGY and although it's annoying and going to have it's problems I can't help but feel a bit lighter, as if it's a new start.
But please, all my friends out there (all 2 of you!) could you email me as I've lost all your addresses and if you value your information, back it up.
Back soon

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Conceptual art

I don't know about conceptual art installations. There is a certain intelligentsia smugness from artists and curators that says if you don't get the point there is a deficiency on your part. Don't get me wrong it can work, 'virgin in a condom', a small plaster Mary encased in a condom was a brilliant idea which caused an uproar here in New Zealand but to imagine that we have to continue looking at it as a piece of art is ridiculous. It succinctly brought home the problems associated with the Catholic Churchs' contraception policy but the idea is fleeting, once it's gone it's gone.
While in Wellington I saw the Jim and Mary Barr(curators and collectors of contemporary art) collection at the City Gallery and I've never seen such a tired looking bunch of exhibits in my life. No wonder they tour them and loan them to galleries because having them at home must be depressing. The idea has gone and they are left with often a poorly made object that should be consigned to the scrapheap.
But I do love the art world. Because there are no rules about what is or is not art it leaves room for the bizzare, the snob, the graffiti, the ridiculous and occasionally the artwork that sings and vibrates long after its made.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

The Diary of an Old Artist

Yes I am working, honest. Up at 5.30, damn it, from too much sleep, to talk to you. Walk the doglet and enjoy the company of the kidlet while he gets himself ready for school. Read the paper from cover to cover, even the careers and I'm way past a career apart from maybe into a bank(dirt!) from my poor eyesight. Breakfast with Denise where she tells me again to get my hair cut and we make momentous decisions about the day. By this time it's almost lunchtime so I kick the cats and proceed to the studio, cut my first piece of wood and it's time for leftovers again (including the dregs of wine!) followed by a nana nap because I rose too early and wine has that sleep effect then down to the studio but now it's time for a cup of tea and banana cake and the kidlet is back from school with all the news of what he learnt (not!) and walk the noisy, hairy thing and it's getting cold I must light the fire and it's so nice staring into the flames and dinner and a movie and I'm so tired from such a busy day I've got to go to bed to get up and do it all over again.
Sigh.... exit left

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The Maori warrior

From a comment from someone who had seen the film 'Once Were Warriors' but knew little about our indigenous Maori people, perhaps a vignette.
Great seafarers they came to New Zealand in large canoes 8-900 years ago (they had no written language but relied on storytelling). Fierce warriors there was constant battles between tribes and when Britain colonised the country in the early 1800s they inflicted defeats on the much larger, better equipped and more experienced British fprces. A treaty was signed (unlike many other colonised nations) in 1840 and although it was abused in subsequent years, those grievences, such as land and fishing rights are still being addressed today.
Fully integrated into our society they still have strong affiliations to tribe but as with many other indigenous populations the shift from their lands to the cities created problems with low paid jobs, alcohol and loss of family control (in a sense of caring what your elders thought of you) leading to a high proportion criminal convictions, loss of self esteem etc.
There is a radical voice among some to have their own parliament which I can't see happening although there is no reason why not as it's happened in other countries but initiatives like their own television station, Maori seats in Parliament, land sttlements in the 100s of millions and bursaries for Maori students to attend university are probably a better option.
They are a happy go lucky race who have a tendency to live for today rather than have ambition for tomorrow and I think we uptight, status seeking, money hungry Pakeha have a lot to learn from them, but that's another story!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

The non dairy, vegan, easy Chocolate Raspberry Cake

Woe are us! Among other things butter, eggs and milk have increased dramatically in price. Many people are dairy intolerant or vegan. The modern housewife/husband doesn't have enough time and/or expertise.
Stop Press - the never fail, vegan cake with no butter, eggs or milk that takes 5 minutes of your time
Chocolate Raspberry Cake
3 cups flour 2 cups sugar 1 cup good cocoa
2 tablespoons vinegar 2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda 1 teaspoon salt
1 cup light oil 2 cups water

Sift the flour, sugar and cocoa in a bowl, dump the rest in and mix. Cook in a 22cm(approx.) tin at 170C until the centre just firms up, around 1 hour (it won't hurt the cake to open the oven and test).
If you aren't vegan and can handle dairy, bring 300mls cream to the boil, take off the heat and add 500gms dark chocolate and mix until smooth (it's too much for one cake but keeps well). Cool it until gluggy and spread over cold cake. When set, cut a nice unhealthy wedge, heat in the microwave for 40 seconds, add fresh raspberries or other, a dollop of whipped cream and go for a long run afterwards!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Capital reward

Spent a day in our windy capital city of Wellington where Parliament fumes and spits making enemies and alliances with nothing to do with the laws that are passed. The houses sit high and tumble down the bowl of the harbour saved from drowning only by the city centre and it blows and blows down the narrow streets.

Capital city

Scarecrow suits slapping legs
In funneled windshafts
While furtive smokers
In woolen chokers
Draw tainted relief

Bright young things
Not yet mortgaged
Fashion bound from fashion mags
In black black black
And clickety clack
Suspended buses in nappy yellow
Heads and faces going places

At last a greeting
From some rough coot
Hat and hair
Who recognises the rough coot in me