Posts Tagged ‘arts’

Tribute to Tennyson

Who is the first artist you can remember engaging with? This is a question we were asked in our writing class. I remember an old 78 record of Doris Day singing The Black Hills of Dakota which I loved, but the artist I chose to write about was Alfred, Lord Tennyson. His The Lady of Shalott has been a lifelong favourite, and I love his rhythm and rhymes. We later had an L.P. record of Richard Burton reading Tennyson’s poetry which introduced me to The Lotus-eaters and others.

Some years ago I was browsing at Shand’s Emporium in Hereford Street. They had a box of books in front of the shop and I found a short illustrated biography of Tennyson, published in 1909, which I bought for five dollars.

Biography of Tennyson

Today is exactly sixteen years since my mother died. During her last hours I sat and read Tennyson’s poetry to her, knowing that she loved it too, and being aware that hearing is the last of the senses to fail.

I liked to think his rhythmic word
could be the last one that she heard

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Black Betty was our breakfast choice this morning, the first time we’ve been there for several years. The food is still excellent and I did appreciate my Earl Grey tea made weakly with tea leaves. The cafe wasn’t as busy as it used to be, perhaps because there are now so many new options available. No sign of the Harley Davidson riders who were Saturday morning regulars. They must have gone somewhere else.

We parked in Allen Street, and as we drove out we spied a mural I hadn’t seen before, as we rarely go that way.

Mural in Allen Street

It’s a portrait of Harlem-Cruz Atarangi Ihaia, and was painted by Erika Pearce in 2017, for the YMCA’s Street Prints Otautahi Festival. The mural raises issues of environmentalism, cultural identity, and female empowerment, and is illuminated by sustainable solar lighting.

Adjacent is a 2021 mural which I found less attractive. The letters appear to read NESS, but I’m not sure what it means.

NESS mural

Black Betty led us to a wall
with a new mural
proud and tall

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I was reminded by a friend’s blog post that it’s been months (maybe a year?) since I took a free guided tour of Te Puna o Waiwhetū the Christchurch Art Gallery. I did pop in to see the recent Louise Henderson exhibition, intending to go back later for another look, but this didn’t happen.

Yesterday’s dreary weather suggested a visit to Turanga to change library books, and I timed it to coincide with the 11am free tour of the Art Gallery where the foyer was busy with a number of people in wheelchairs. It turned out that there was a tour for people with dementia and their carers at the same time, but our tour attracted just four people – an ideal-sized group. These days I’m not comfortable standing for very long, but the gallery has plenty of seating. They even supply folding chairs you can carry around with you if you need them. We saw new exhibitions as well as checking out Persistent Encounters a display with old favourites from the gallery collection.

Max Gimblett, born in Aotearoa and now living in New York, donated 200 of his works on paper to the gallery, and some of these are currently in the Ocean Wheel exhibition. Max works with geometric figures, quatrefoils, and ensos (Zen circles of enlightenment).

Enso series by Max Gimblett

It was interesting to learn that he creates the whole picture in his mind before quickly putting brush to paper. The one on the right made me wonder whether perhaps he might be left-handed. Our guide didn’t know, but if I went another time and watched the video of Max I might find out. Or maybe he’s ambidextrous?

Te Wheke: Pathways across Oceania shows items from the gallery’s collection by Pacific artists. Te Wheke means octopus in te reo Māori, and the exhibits are in eight rooms.

‘We are the small axe’ by Robin White and Ruha Fifita

We are the small axe is striking, with political messages.

‘etu iti by Ani O’Neill

I liked ‘etu iti, the wide smile, by Ani O’Neill. It’s inspired by sacred bundles of sticks bound with fine feathers which were collected from Hawai’i long ago and are now held in the Cambridge (UK) Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. Ani often works collaboratively and for this piece she was assisted by Cambridge school children.

This was a stimulating and enjoyable hour. I found that the gallery also has a free Walking Meditation every Friday lunchtime until the end of November – an introduction to mindfulness which sounds attractive.

So many works that you can see
we’re lucky that it’s all for free

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One of the new frames that are part of Gap Filler’s Chch Changes Project has been erected in Cathedral Square.  Depending on which way you look, you can either see the old:


or the new:

Te Pae

From either side there is a view
of central city old or new

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I was intrigued by this poster in New Regent Street.  From a distance I thought it might be a poem, but closer inspection showed that it purports to be a recipe.  It has the name Bones Delicatessen on it, but Aunty Google has no reference to such a place.  And the spelling of Hawaiian is incorrect.  Could it be related the new popup gallery The Junction that opened last night in Cathedral Junction?  Does anyone know?

It might be a cooking boaster
who put up this puzzling poster

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I hadn’t previously noticed the sign labelling this small lane off Gloucester Street as Nurseryman Lane, and wondered whether it might be a reference to Cabbage Patch Wilson.  The Otakaro site says it refers to the nursery that once stood on the site of the Innovation Precinct, and a couple of other sites give this lane as being between Lichfield and Tuam Streets in the South Frame (rather than the East), so I’m confused.

The other end appears to be called Huanui Lane (meaning trail or highway) and the lane, under whichever name, leads towards a 16 metre tall sculpture in Worcester Street.

Vaka A Hina

Vaka A Hina combines Pacific Island culture with a striking geometry to embody the uniqueness of all the different people who make up our community.  The name translates to Vessel of Hina.  She is a Tongan Goddess who lives on the moon and frequently travels back and forth to earth.  The artist is Semisi Fetokai Potauaine.

This sculpture honours a goddess
which pleases me as you may guess

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This mural is on a wall at 116 Buchan Street, Sydenham.  There didn’t seem to be any acknowledgement of the artist on the wall, but I’ve discovered it’s by Deow of Southland, and was created for the 2016 Spectrum Festival.   It shows a woman striving and reaching up from the water, symbolising the will to rise up and push through hard times similar to how Christchurch city has done and will continue to do.

We all continue to push through
although it’s sometimes hard to do

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This book is truly a labour of love.  The author is the great-nephew of the artist, and the book is a distillation of Cranleigh’s eighty journals and thousands of water colours.  It’s not a book I would usually have chosen, but I was given a copy as a prize in the Christchurch City Libraries Photo Hunt 2019.  The photo I submitted was highly commended.

Cranleigh Harper Barton, 1890-1975, came from a privileged background.  As a teenager studying at Victoria College in Wellington his laundry was sent home to Fielding every week in a basket on the train, and returned, washed, ironed, and starched.  He was devoted to his mother and took a great interest in women’s clothes.  Cranleigh arrived in London in 1913, in time to witness the funeral of suffragette Emily Davison.  He was absolutely a child of the British Empire, and referred to London’s Trafalgar Square as the grandest point in the Empire.   His travels in U.K., Europe, Asia, and the Pacific encompassed music, ballet, art, and architecture, and he met many well-known people.  Nellie Melba wrote him letters of introduction, and D’Arcy Cresswell was one of his “chums”.  His paintings are in many collections, including that of the Canterbury Museum.

I found the descriptions of his travels interesting, together with the paintings of scenes, especially familiar New Zealand ones.  The author’s additional snippets of social history give helpful context.  However I must admit my interest waned after I’d read half the book – there was just too much detail.  It’s a book meant to sit on a coffee table and be dipped into.

His privileged life allowed him to
seek out all kinds of pastures new

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A new sculpture has appeared on the corner of Lichfield and Colombo Streets.   To me it looked like a bunch of giant puffballs, with little stools beside them.  There’s a stand nearby, but no explanation on it as yet.  I later discovered that the balls are dahlias.  They have colour inside and they will light up at night.  The work was part of the Light up the City design competition earlier this year.  Great to have another new artwork in the central city!

This kind of sculpture I just luff
there’s seven giant balls of puff



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Ruby Jones is a young Dunedin artist who came to prominence when a drawing she did in response to the Mosque attacks went viral.  This led to her being invited to illustrate a cover for Time magazine.

Lately she’s been brightening inner city walls with drawings aimed at enhancing wellbeing.  We came across two of these in the central city yesterday.

Ruby’s work in High Street


Ruby’s work in Cashel Mall

These messages are from her new book All of this is for you, which is about kindness and self-care, and they are intended as a gift for Christchurch.

Thanks for your gifts Ms Ruby Jones
they’ve brightened up our central zones


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