Friday, February 29, 2008
Thursday, February 28, 2008
When my makeshift wardrobe railing collapsed this morning dropping all my clothes in a muddle on the floor, I thought of multi-award winning Christchurch designer, Ingrid Geldof and how appalled she would be by my inattention to important things like function and design. I have come to appreciate that we should all - as much as budget allows - utilise quality design consultants to avoid missing out on valuable knowledge and to get the very best from our homes without compromise. Ingrid's mammoth haul of over 30 New Zealand design awards for kitchen, bathroom, laundry and joinery design makes her an obvious choice when it comes to solving design dilemmas and general household inefficiencies like mine. The thing I particularly like about her approach to function is that she doesn't compromise on aesthetics. Her designs pay particular attention to colour, texture, form and pattern in a way that puts her work in a class above most. Every finish, every surface is part of a well considered whole so that you not only get function, you also get beauty. I can live without the very best in function but I cannot live without beauty. http://www.igd.co.nz/
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
I have finally met some of those phantom figures of public scorn and outrage - the graffiti/street artists. After many months of photographing street art all around New Zealand, Adelaide and Melbourne (for an artist book project), I was totally in my element yesterday chatting with some of the competitors in the King of Kings Graffiti Art Competition that was staged at Christchurch's Waltham Park on Sunday (Feb 24).
And here's some radical news folks - they seemed like ordinary creative kids to me - young people delighting in the chance to express their talents; keen to talk about their techniques and what inspires them - just like any other artist. All this thanks to Project Legit (www.ccc.govt.nz ), a city council-funded initiative run by Floyds Creative Arts, that aims to reduce grafitti vandalism in Christchurch by promoting legal grafitti murals and displays on sanctioned walls and underpasses. "I've been doing this four years," said one guy,"and it's cool to have legal sites to work on without the cops breathing down your neck." Part of Project Legit's commitment is educating youth on the history, theory, ethical and practical aspects of grafitti art, which seems like a brilliant idea to me.
The public for their part, need to recognise the very real difference between mindless tagging vandalism and good grafitti art because no matter how many times you paint over it, it will reappear. Graffiti art is here to stay - it is an internationally recognised cultural phenomenon, it represents a huge portion of our communities; books have been written on the subject; street art worldwide has been documented and studied; and the sooner we recognise that and find ways to 'cohabitate' the better. Encourage outcomes like the now vibrant, colourful walls of Waltham Park, give the good grafitti artists more space to work on, educate the idiot-taggers before they become a major problem and maybe the problems will diminish. One thing is certain - closed minds will not solve the problem.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Monday, February 25, 2008
Sunday, February 24, 2008
Saturday, February 23, 2008
Thursday, February 21, 2008
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Lyttelton's Volcano Cafe has turned twenty and after providing Cantabrians with two decades worth of whacky dining experiences, owners Peter Lewellyn and Lois Ogilvie are moving on. They decided to throw a Monday night party to mark the occasion. Well known New Zealand artist, Bill Hammond - a Volcano regular and Peter and Lois's neighbour - created the invitation (below); the Warratahs provided the music and some of New Zealand's top after dinner speakers - Joe Bennett, Jon Gadsby, Gary McCormick, Jim Hopkins - put in an appearance and were uncharacteristically quiet.
Monday, February 18, 2008
When I visited Beijing in 2001, I was lucky enough to be able to interview leading Beijing artist, Sheng Qi, one of the early forces in Chinese performance art in the 1980s and co-founder of the performance group Concept 21. It took me some time to notice that he was missing his smallest finger on his left hand. That was because he had chopped it off with a cleaver after the Tiananmen Square Incident on June 4, 1989.
Liberal thought in China suffered seriously from the social and political changes after Tiananmen Square and Shenq Qi, “in an act of despair and agony, cut off the small finger of his left hand and buried it in a flowerpot before leaving Beijing for Rome.” He stayed in Europe for eight years and his mutilated hand later figured in many of his photographic works.
He returned to Beijing in 1999 and in his first performance he wore the upper part of a military uniform with a small red AIDS ribbon attached to the jacket, while his head was covered with red cloth. The lower part of his body was naked, with his genitals wrapped in gauze and tethered to a parrot. And I’m not saying anything more about the fact that he went on to create performance works that involved small transparent balls, closed eyes, toy soldiers, his hand down his own underpants and urinating, naked, on decapitated chickens. But I am prompted to ask – and I don’t why I never did when I had the chance – if he ever unearthed his little finger from the flowerpot; and if he did, what he subsequently did with it?
All that is nothing compared to Zhang Huan, who dabbed his penis in black ink and slapped it between the pages of Encyclopaedia Britannica for a time. (He’s fortunate my mother never found that out. She always put great store in Encyclopaedia Britannica and she would have been scandalised by his actions. I’m sure she would have hunted him down and put his penis under a large pile of bricks until he had come to his senses).
In a rather more attention-grabbing moment, Zhang also chained himself to the roof beams of a barn in eastern Beijing and let blood drip from a tube bored into his neck, down onto roasting trays below where, much to the concern of the audience, it bubbled and evaporated with rather a nasty stench. Then there was Wu Gaozhong, who curled up inside the freshly-slaughtered buffalo carcass; others with live chickens in their mouths; others getting branded; others buried to their neck in stones; and my favourite: the quirky fellow who dragged a cabbage through the streets on a chain. Naturally this work was called Pet No.2.
Sunday, February 17, 2008
The over-worked words and phrases I hate:
- Clean lines - thashed to death in the architectural sense. Please explain what you mean fully - if you can.
- Creatives - as used by the PR and advertising industry to mean 'creative people' - I presume. Slightly self-indulgent not to mention grammatically incorrect.
- Indoor-outdoor flow - if I hear it one more time I'll scream!
- Luxury - inappropriately used in the New Zealand accommodation sector to the point of embarassment. There are probably no more than a dozen true luxury properties in NZ that would rate on an international scale.
- You're so lucky - It's generally about hard work not luck!
- Chur, Tru Bro - NZ slang that annoys the hell out of me. If you're going to speak English do it properly.
Saturday, February 16, 2008
Friday, February 15, 2008
Thursday, February 14, 2008
Sometimes you don't need language. You especially don't need it when it's no longer reliable, no longer controllable, no longer easy and when it's very very likely to reduce you to a simpering fool. That said, there is mystery in an inability to communicate with others via our usual means; an allure in someone else's unknowable knowledge; a challenge in trying to tap into it, somehow, without words.
Without language there can be an adrenalin rush in negotiating ordinary routines. There can be excitement in guessing at the meaning of unknown words, at the truth of the meaning that lies in strange sounding sentences. There can be joy in listening for linguistic hints, for familiar-sounding tones; in watching for familiar body movements and expressions that might suggest 'mother,' 'son,' 'daughter,' 'husband' - something you can relate to and draw out into meaningful exchange.
Sometimes, the silent spaces between words and gestures is enough. And sometimes they can be just as eloquent as the words themselves - in any language. From 'Travel in Beijing'; a manuscript by ajr
At home in Christchurch, a one-off lunch review is much less arduous - a joy almost - and so it was today, as I settled in to savour the creative plates served with good humour, charm and French accents at High Street Bistro. And what girl isn't a sucker for a French accent at the best of times, much less on Valentine's Day! I'm human after all (despite having to endure super-human gastronomic feats). Having worked our way through grilled French goats' cheese on salad with walnut dressing (I'll spare you the French terminology); quail terrine with onion marmalade (the shared entrees); grilled salmon aioli Provencal and steak tartare (the mains); it seemed picky and rude to ignore the offer of creme brulee with Cognac-laced truffles and espresso. And the corny but winning touch, a red chocolate heart "for Valentine's Day."
Between words, between objects, between buildings - those 'negative' spaces I love. For me they are filled with positives. Long, thin, dark alleys filled with intrigue and unanswered questions. Long pauses between words filled with the unspoken - often more eloquent than the words themselves. Odd negative shapes between objects that make room for quirky, Escher-like forms that you have to gaze at before you really see them.
Bean sketches: A.J.Rewi, 1984-85. Beans centre: Just picked.
I am considering a new book - "One Hundred and One Things To Do With Green Beans." It's desperation kicking in as my vegetable garden over-provides. The scarlet runner beans have gone beserk and every day I wonder about some new inventive way to tackle the problem. It's come to this, drawing them, photographing them, wrapping them (one hundred and one ways) and giving them away in 'appetising' bundles.