Posts Tagged ‘arts’

An attractive mural on the toilet block at Waimairi Beach warns of the dangers our sea creatures face because of pollution, especially the plastic litter that now clogs our oceans.

Aotearoa is also experiencing unprecedented marine heatwaves which are a cause for serious concern. Murals such as this one remind us of the perils we face as the Climate Crisis deepens.

These days, despite what we might wish
our seas are much less safe for fish.

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Yesterday I discovered two new murals in Gloucester Street beside Turanga. I gather they are part of this year’s Mini Flare Street Art Festival. The first is an attractive picture of a bird:

I’m not sure what kind of bird it is, but it could almost be a phoenix rising from the fire and I think it’s possibly by Dcypher.

On the adjacent wall someone was working on an image of three faces. The festival runs until 22 March, so it should be finished within a week.

I think it was a woman in the scissor-lift, so suspect this is by Kophie aka Meep. There’s nothing up yet to identify the artists. This year’s festival also features a new mural by Owen Dippie (of the adorable elephants and the ballerina), and I look forward to finding out where that is.

It’s great to have these additions to our inner city – thank you, Flare.

I always love to see a mural
and in this corner they are plural

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Big Birds

A mural I hadn’t seen before is on the fence outside Rydges Hotel in Oxford Terrace. It features birds and reptiles of Aotearoa, and is by Chilean born artist Rodrigo Rozas.

I love all these images, and like to think that the people in town for the Buskers’ Festival will admire them too.

I hope that you will spread the words
so folk can see these native birds

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Meeting Murals

I found another mural I hadn’t seen before. This one is at 150 Colombo Street, on the wall of Formaggio’s Restaurant. It’s by Flox, and is titled An Ode to Hinewai. Hugh Wilson of Hinewai is featured in the top right-hand corner. I love the birds and flowers, and have admired other murals by Flox. The abundance of street art adds to the pleasure of walking around Christchurch.

It’s good to find another mural
around the city they are plural

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This is a mural I hadn’t noticed before although I frequently visit the Art Gallery. It’s on the rear wall of the Gallery and is by Kelcy Taratoa.

Te Tahū o ngā Maunga Tūmatakahuki

The mural is about how we are bound together. Its overlapping forms have shapes that are reminiscent of land, sea, and sky.

These are some most intriguing shapes
reminding us of far landscapes

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Rain was pelting down early on Sunday morning and the weather was definitely not suitable for beach walking. By 10am the rain was clearing so we decided to walk through the Botanic Gardens. The river had overflowed, and ducks were enjoying new places to swim.

Ducks on the river overflow

At the Central Art Gallery in the Arts Centre we found an exhibition by Hannah Kidd. I’ve enjoyed her work before, and was keen to see these new pieces. Seven of them are sculptures of dogs, made from steel and corrugated iron, all extremely lifelike and very attractive.

Hannah has also painted and glazed a number of pots on different themes. An attendant kindly lifted the lids on these to demonstrate how each has an appropriate aroma inside. I had to take a photo of the one which showed a flamingo:

Friday Night Drinks

Another depicting Putin did not appeal:

Putin is Hot Pot

The delicate one with cats is inspired by a blog the artist follows called 12catslady. One of the paw-traits looked like Ziggy:

12catslady Pot

Bunsen Cafe was handy for a morning snack, with sparrows perched inside waiting for crumbs.

Expectant sparrows

A large raspberry and chocolate muffin meant I didn’t need lunch when I got home.

A stimulating way to spend
a dull day on a wet weekend

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Oriental Art

The story of the Japanese Prisoners of War who were interned in Featherston in the 1940s is a fascinating one, not well known in Aotearoa. Richard Bullen, the Associate Professor of Japanese Art History at the University of Canterbury gave an engrossing talk about these men and the art they created. 850 Japanese men had been captured and were on their way to Aotearoa before the American forces told our government they were coming.

On 1 September 1942 the N.Z. Government made the decision to house them at Featherston where there had been a World War One military training camp, which was now bare. On 8 September troops were sent to make the area ready, put up tents, etc, and on 12 September the Japanese arrived. They were given old WWI uniforms to wear, including lemon-squeezer hats. Their names and occupations were recorded, but it’s apparent that the names, and probably many of the occupations were false. For all the time they were interned they had no correspondence with their families back in Japan.

The prisoners were expected to join work parties, as allowed under the Geneva Convention, but these ordinary men had no idea their government had signed the Geneva Convention and they resisted the call to work. In 1943 this led to a riot where 48 Japanese and one New Zealander were killed.

Huts were built to replace the tents the prisoners were first housed in, and remnants of building materials were used by them to create artworks, mainly relief sculptures. Their tools were made from wire, nails, and cutlery. They used these nostalgic Japanese pictures to decorate their quarters and to trade with the guards for cigarette tobacco. They also carved some NZEF badges, which were presumably commissioned by guards. Some materials, e.g. coloured paints, were donated to the prisoners by the Red Cross and the Society of Friends (Quakers). Paua shell used for decoration probably came from the same sources, as it was known to have been given to the 20 Japanese civilians housed in a camp at Pahiatua. The chaplain Hessell Troughton established an organised system for making and selling items of art. All the items were well made, especially considering the artists were amateurs, although art was a compulsory subject in all Japanese schools from the 1890s.

Figure Viewing Mt Fuji – courtesy of Featherston Heritage Museum

The prisoners also made Mah Jong sets, and/or playing cards from cigarette packets. They practised ikebana and were surprised at the lack of botanical knowledge among the guards and camp staff. When the Japanese left at the end of 1945 they took some items they’d made with them, but couldn’t take them all as some were large wooden pieces. Some can now be seen in the Featherston Heritage Museum and the Waiouru Army Museum. Richard and his colleague published a book about this art which brought great interest from Japanese media, but nothing from the Japanese public.

No contact with folks far away
art must have helped to fill their day

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An exciting addition to the east of the central city is The Art Shop gallery, located in the lovely old art deco M.E.D. building in Armagh Street, opposite the Margaret Mahy Family Playground.

The Art Shop – outside
The Art Shop – inside

They have a great selection of paintings and sculpture, and everything is for sale. It reminded me a little of COCA gallery years ago.

The first item that caught my eye was Phoenix by Christian Vee, with wings that move up and down.

Phoenix by Christian Vee

A striking portrait of John Lennon in Ukrainian colours was called Give Peace a Chance. The Beatles seem to be topical at the moment. I enjoyed a documentary about them on Maori TV a couple of weeks ago, and I see that their music is coming to the Town Hall next month.

Give Peace a Chance by Liam Downes

Lovely mosaics by Jane Santos featured Wellington buildings.

Mosaics by Jane Santos

I coveted the Quail Family, but the price of $950 was outside my budget, and I don’t have a suitable place to display it.

Quail Family by Elisha Jordan

There’s lots more to see, and I shall certainly go again. It will be interesting to see how the stock changes as items are sold. There are plans for a wine and coffee bar too.

I’m pleased to see this new art shop
with works that I thought were tiptop.

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streets stream with artworks
some there for years
like elephants on Manchester
others are brand new
a giant cat on St Asaph
these portraits delight me
more obscure ones
show video games
alien cartoon characters
perhaps familiar
to the younger generation
I stop and think
their worth is in the eye
of the beholder
it can be a fine line
between street art and graffiti

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The Zonta Ashburton Female Art Award was the reason I’d been keen for a trip to Ashburton. This award supports emerging and mid-career female artists in Canterbury, and the exhibition of the finalists is on display at the Ashburton Art Gallery until April 24th.

The array of works was impressive. Here are some that particularly struck me:

Art Chemist

Art Chemist by Audrey Baldwin is an interactive installation and performance which connects people in a playful yet earnest therapeutic environment. Audrey is a Christchurch artist, whose performances I’ve enjoyed in the past . Art Chemist was installed in Cathedral Junction last year, but I didn’t manage to see it then. I’m delighted to report that Audrey won the Premier Award at this exhibition, which means she will have a solo exhibition at the Gallery next year.

Veil of Invisibility

Veil of Invisibility by Coral Broughton speaks of how older women tend to be overlooked. Coral says “The process of aging can be seen as an opportunity for re-definition where aging is seen as a desirable condition which allows freedom to live outside the gaze.”

Boys Will be Boys

Boys Will be Boys by Alice Jones makes a strong statement about women’s experience of intimate partner violence.


Monobloc is by Jorja Shadbolt, one of the young generation finalists. It is a disturbing image which portrays her feelings of worthlessness after the end of a relationship.

COVID ashes

COVID ashes by Jenny Wilson was the piece that most appealed to me and I gave it my vote in the People’s Choice ballot. The ceramic moths are Jenny’s response to COVID-19 TV images of rows of bodies, funeral pyres, and suffering beyond our comprehension.

Jenny says: “I make the moths from soft white clay printed with vintage lace, and fire them first in an electric kiln. Each one is then carefully wrapped in a paper parcel with copper wire, seaweed, sawdust, and eggshells. I fire one moth at a time in my home log-burner, cocooned within a tin-can saggar (protective box). Each night I light a fire, and each morning I uncover a moth from the ashes. It is a meditation of sorts.


We also went to the Ashburton Salvation Army Family Store, where a large mass-produced picture of a flamingo caught my eye. Stephen offered to buy it for me, so it came home with us, and is now hanging on the lounge wall. It may look a little tacky, but it’s pink, and fun, and that’s what I need in this time of Pandemic, War in Ukraine, and Climate Crisis.

Flamboyant Flamingo

So many artworks to be seen
including this Flamingo Queen

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