Posts Tagged ‘Ashburton’

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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We were pleasantly surprised to find how much there is to do and see in Ashburton. In the centre there’s a clock tower, which chimes every quarter hour. I’ve always loved a chiming clock, although I imagine it might be annoying for those who live or work nearby. Close to the clock tower is a statue of John Grigg, who was an early Pakeha settler in the area and a pioneer exporter of refrigerated meat. He and his wife Martha had ten children.

John Grigg statue

What interested me about this statue was the plaque added at the bottom which said that in 2014 his (and her!) descendants had gathered to celebrate his vision and lasting achievements. I felt some genealogical envy when I read this.

The town of Ashburton is named after Lord Ashburton, who was one of the members of the Canterbury Association, which had purchased a large tract of land in the South Island, lying between the Waipara and the Ashburton rivers, from the New Zealand Land Company, at ten shillings per acre.

In the middle of the retail area we found this antique postbox, still in daily use.

Vintage postbox

There are many attractive items on East Street, including a water feature.

Ashburton water feature

On Saturday morning there’s a Farmers’ Market in the West Street parking area, with craft stalls as well. We saw items for sale that we haven’t seen elsewhere – always the sign of a good market. To walk from West Street to East Street you need to cross the railway line where the signs say “Look out for trains”. I assure you we did look carefully before crossing.

In 2006 I spent three days at a Conference in Ashburton, but had no free time for sightseeing. This is the only other time I’ve stayed there. I’m sure there are more areas we could have explored, and maybe we’ll go again some time.

We liked our visit to Ashburton
there’s lots to see there that’s for certain

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There’s lots to see and do in Ashburton. At the 24 hour service station I bought two copies of the “Press” – to have one each to read and do puzzles was a holiday treat. After breakfast at Somerset Grocery we visited Trott’s Community Garden, a N.Z. Garden of International Significance.

Breakfast @ Somerset Grocery

The weather was perfect for this with autumn sun and no wind. There were pigeons and fantails flying free, and an aviary with pheasants and budgies. The garden was established in 1984 by the Trott family, taken over by a charitable trust in 2017, and is now maintained by volunteers. Many of the vistas were superb, even if there were few flowers at this time of year.

Long perennial border
Garden Chapel
Knot garden

I wanted to visit the N.Z. Sock Company in Ashburton, but this wasn’t easy to find (lacking a GPS). The street it’s in is divided by a square and later by the railway line. We were pleased to buy NZ made merino socks, and as there was a Warehouse next door I also replaced my printer cartridges, which now cost far more than I originally paid for the printer.

We browsed all five of the Ashburton op shops, where we bought a couple of jigsaws for me, and a cookbook for Stephen. I realised we hadn’t seen any postcards, and eventually found a postcard stand at Paper Plus, where there were cards of Timaru, Mt Hutt, and Methven, but none of Ashburton. The shop assistant said they hadn’t seen the postcard rep for a long time, and I presume there’s less demand with no international tourists.

Dinner was at Kelly’s Irish Café and Bar, the first time I’ve been in a pub for many months. Stephen was pleased to be able to have a Guinness, and we were intrigued to see the tap had a harp attachment.

Kelly’s Irish Café & Bar

They had a digital jukebox, on the wall beside Stephen’s chair, something we’ve not seen before. He couldn’t find anything familiar on it and we wouldn’t have been able to hear it anyway as there was so much laughing and talking going on. Sky Sports was showing on the TV and we realised it was Dan Carter doing his Kickathon.

When we left trees along the main street were lit with fairy lights, and a mural was also illuminated.

Ashburton mural at night

To see the garden made by Trotts
one can’t help but admire the plots

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Snark Show

Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark, written 1874-76 is the inspiration for a book and an exhibition by David Elliot.  In his book Snark Elliot has taken Carroll’s fantasy further, and his meticulous drawings depict the characters and possible circumstances of the original story.  For the exhibition Snark: A Victorian Odyssey at the Ashburton Art Gallery Elliot’s drawings and text are shown under glass and accompanied by Victorian artifacts which all add to the experience.  Some items are on loan from the Otago Museum.  Others are from Elliot’s own collection and often constructed by him.

In Elliot’s book the Snark story is told from the journal of Boots, one of ten characters whose names all begin with B.  The original journal is displayed in a glass case together with an antique bicorne hat and hatbox.  There’s a photo of a Victorian gentleman who was zoophagous, i.e. he ate only wild animals.  Further on we see a decidedly steampunkish Snark Cooker.

Snark Cooker

Other cases hold a Beaver, and his lace-making equipment.


It’s suggested that the hunters’ voyage took them to Australasia, and the Borogoves are identified as being similar to a kakapo.  A Bird Chart estimates the size of a Jubjub bird, depicted alongside a moa (fossilised leg on display), and an Elephant Bird.  Elephant Birds, now extinct, once lived on Madagascar, and the name reminded me of Horton hatching the egg.

Art Gallery staff welcomed our group and are happy to show any visitors round the exhibition.  It will be on until 10 February, and is definitely worth the drive south.

‘Now Mister Elliot has made
a show which tells the tale
with artifacts and drawings that
depict a snark-‘type snail.’

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