Friday, April 30, 2010

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Corrugated Iron - "White Man's Bark."

Farm Buildings, Woodend, Victoria, Australia Barn, Trentham, Victoria, Australia I read a terrific essay on Australian corrugated iron recently, called "Corrugated Iron - Materiality and Placedness," by Ray Norman. I'm very much at home with corrugated iron as a building material - I am a New Zealander after all and we New Zealanders can claim a 'kinship' to corrugated iron that is equal to the Australians. In another article I read, one Australian writer had the effrontery to suggest that"Australia is beyond any doubt, the spiritual home of corrugated iron." Ray Norman at least, had the mind to write in his essay, "of course none of this is exclusive to Australia." Barn, Woodend, Victoria, Australia
Home Garage, Woodend, Victoria, Australia
Farm Building, Drummond, Victoria, Australia
I do of course appreciate that corrugated iron can well be described as "the building material that made the (Australian) bush;" just as it 'made' much of pioneering and rural New Zealand - and still does in many a rural context. It has played a major role in the settling of both countries and just as it is a key element in the "frontier and mining adventures" of Australia, so it was in New Zealand. It still dominates farm architecture in both countries and in New Zealand it is still the material of choice for domestic roofing.
Large Contemporary Corrugated Iron Home, Woodend, Victoria, Australia
I've featured New Zealand corrugated architecture here before, so when I went to Australia recently, it seemed only fair to snap a few photos showing their use of it. All photographs in this post therefore, were shot in various places around Victoria.
In reference to the Australian scene, I very much like Ray Norman's essay introduction: "If you are an Australian, a 'Baby Boomer,' grew up just about anywhere outside a large city, or even in one, or lived on 'the land,' or worked in a 'shed' or in a factory of some kind, the chances are that just about every roof you ever lived, or worked under would have been corrugated iron. The water you drank as a kid more than likely would have been collected on your roof and indeed, you may well have been conceived under the stuff. And, if you were brought up as a Protestant Non-conformist, there's a better than even chance that you've done some praying under corrugated iron and just maybe, you were married under it too." I imagine that this paragraph will ring a few bells for many thousands of New Zealanders too.
Contemporary Home Under Construction, Woodend, Victoria, Australia
Aboriginal Australians took to calling corrugated iron "white fella iron bark" when it began superceding natural materials in colonial settlements. You'll still find Aborigines themselves using it for their 'humpies' (dwellings) and they'll often collect it from disused, or burnt-out homes. As Norman notes after a bushfire: "...the house's iron will be whisked away to be straghtened out a bit, to become a fence, to roof a chook house, to cover this or that and keep it dry, to make the kids a canoe, to do, or become a myriad of things. The stuff is just so forgiving and it never seems to give up its usefulness until it's gone to rust and ultimately turns to dust."
Contemporary Shop Facade on Old Warehouses, Malmsbury, Victoria, Australia Norman also notes that in modern day Australia (as in New Zealand), corrugated iron has become "much better mannered" and is "the trendy stuff of the 'smart Aussie vernacular,' where the irreverence of its 'bush' context is celebrated."
"Lurking away in its materiality, wherever you are, corrugated iron is bound to have some subliminal stories and memories, and perhaps, an odd sub-text or two, just waiting to be pondered upon," he adds.
To see other stories on this subject click corrugated iron in the label line below this post.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Meet the People - 48

Another in the Series Meet the People - Ordinary and Extraordinary New Zealanders Doing Interesting Things - Penny How knows all about the benefits of life in the country. She and her husband, Bert, set up and run Peel Forest Lodge on the edge of Peel Forest, in South Canterbury. It's the sort of peaceful, unhurried setting that city-dwellers would pay millions for - not that the How's lifestyle is 'unhurried' exactly, because in addition to running the lodge, they also farm deer and run a horse-trekking business from their home-property, just down the road from the lodge.
Peel Forest Lodge is the ultimate 'secret hideaway' - a large, beautifully-made, 3-bedroomed log cabin (with sleep-out), completely surrounded by a thick stand of native bush that guarantees privacy. No one would ever know you were there. Giant totara and kahikatea tres dot the front lawn and lodge views encompass grazing deer herds and the bush-clad mountains beyond.
Bert built the lodge himself, from giant Douglas fir trees milled on the neighbouring property; and inside he's paid particular attention to creating a comfortable, restful mood that encourages guests to forget about their 'real lives.' The lodge is there for anyone - from large wedding parties to holidaying New Zealanders looking for time out - but Bert and Penny's main business is international hunting parties.
From March through July in fact, it's Hunters Only.
"We pick them up from Christchurch Airport, provide them with a hunting guide and they head off into the Southern Alps," says Penny. Penny prepares all meals for guests in the lodge's smart timber kitchen (unless they opt for self-catering) and wet, weary hunters come home from the bush to find home-cooked salmon, venison and rack of lamb dinners. For those not interested in hunting, the lodge is the perfect 'secret' base for a South Canterbury holiday (August through February), and it's close to white-water rafting, kayaking, horse-riding and plenty of great walks and picnic spots - and to Geraldine. It is in fact, just another 'unsung hero' in the rural New Zealand hospitality stakes.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Barry's Provocative Unpublished Minutes - 89

"Haiku 1, 2010."
Another in the series of witty works by one of New Zealand's leading printmakers.
Click Cleavin in the label line below for more.

Our Bird

One NewBorn Kiwi Chick
Willowbank Wildlife Reserve
Christchurch. Easter 2010

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Melbourne Coffee Culture

Waiting for customers - Degraves Lane Arrogantly French - Hardware Land Coffee is an essential part of Melbourne life and half the fun of any visit there for me, is not only drinking the stuff, but photographing everyone else doing the same thing - especially in the back lanes of central city, where graffiti, posters , colour and character reign supreme.
Reading the News -Centre Place
Writing a Diary - Brunetti, Centre Square
An Early Breakfast - Hardware Lane It was probably Melbourne's immigrant Italian population who got everyone hooked on coffee way back in the 1950s, when they started opening cafes - especially around the Carlton area. You'll still find a cluster of Italian businesses there, but coffee and cafes have spread far and wide since then. They're everywhere. Whether you're in Block Arcade, Centre Place, Degraves Street, Hardware Lane; in Docklands, Southbank, , Fitzroy Street or St Kilda, the one thing you can be certain of is, you won't ever be far from a cafe. The hidden arcades and lanes though are my favourite spots. Not that they were always filled with trendy cafes, boutiques and nightspots. Most were just service lanes, providing vehicle and drainage access for city buildings and they were dimly lit and uninviting. Now they're THE places of Melbourne. So how do you find them? Simply wander the streets, follow the crowds and negotiate all those narrow markings on your inner city map. And don't forget to take your camera. (If you click on Centre Place in the label line below this post, you'll see other photos I've taken in some of the lanes over the last few years).

Cool Cars - 76

One Bright Yellow 2009 Mazda MX54 - Spotted in Kyneton, Victoria, Australia.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Sweet Empire

As far as I'm concerned, no visit to Melbourne is complete without at least ONE pig-out at one of the fabulous Brunetti cafes. On this trip I swooned about their City Square establishment (above) lingering over one of my favourite cream-filled canneloni.
Canneloni though, are a mere drop in the ocean of Brunetti temptations; and what started as a tiny cake shop on Lygon Street in Carlton a few decades ago, is now showing signs of becoming an empire. Brunetti Cakes began trading at their current Faraday Street location (Carloton) in 1985. The Angele family bought the business in 1991 and it's been expanding ever since. In addition to the Carlton spot, they've opened this stylish new cafe in City Square and another in Camberwell; and, according to their website, they have plans to open in both Singapore and Dubai soon.
Giorgio Angele began his training in Rome when he was 10. In 1956, at the age of 23, he travelled to Australia with the Italian Olympic team as a pastry chef, and was given the opportunity to migrate there after the Olympics. He's been baking up a storm ever since and now the name Brunetti is synonymous with divine, sweet temptations. I love to visit their Pasticcerias as much to photograph the cakes as to eat them. It's a feast for the eyes and the stomach - and that charming Italian service? Unbeatable! To see shots taken previously in their Carlton outlet, click on the name Brunetti in the label line below.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Road to Ohau

Much has been written about the grandeur and the power of New Zealand's South Island landscapes, about the jagged peaks of the Southern Alps, the parched, dry expanses of the MacKenzie Basin, the big skies and the power of Central Otago and beyond.
I was born in the North Island but I've been living in the South Island for the last twenty years. I've seen almost every part of it but I still never tire of all those majestic qualities that have made the South Island famous. Recently, I discovered a small wedge of the south I had never visited before - the very pretty, glacier-fed Lake Ohau, located south-west of Twizel. You turn off the main highway just south of Twizel and travel inland for around 17km and then suddenly, as you rise over the brow of a hill, there's Lake Ohau, spread out like a turquoise jewel in the middle of that rust-brown landscape.
Probably more famous for its small ski field in the hills behind than for any sort of 'town,' Ohau is a ridiculously quiet spot - a new development that sits on a rise above Lake Ohau and, just across the road, the much smaller, darker, Lake Middleton. The fir and pine-edged settlement is made up of a growing number of holiday homes. I'm sure there are permanent residents there as well but in my two days there, I never saw another living soul. If it hadn't been for the roads and the telephone wires, I could easily have imagined I was the last person left in the world. Lake Ohau itself (60sqkm), is popular with trout fisherman I believe, but like all of the south's glacier lakes, it's freezing cold and not nearly as tempting to swim in as you might think.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

A Bird in the Bush

Meet Dacelo leachii - The Blue-Winged Kookaburra
Not to be confused with Dacelo novaeguineae, the Laughing Kookaburra, which is bigger.
Both of course, one of Australia's iconic 'emblems.'
I photographed this little guy on my last visit to Melbourne - in February - in the small Victorian town of Woodend, an hour north of the city.

StreetscapeNZ - 76

Main Street, Riverton,
Southland, South Island.
November 2009, Ajr

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Barry's Provocative Unpublished Minutes - 88

"And the Critic Salivates"
Another in the ongoing of series of prints by one of New Zealand's top printmakers To see others click on Cleavin in the label line below.

Art Meets Engineering

Christchurch Art Gallery is currently teasing us with two spectacular foyer works by acclaimed Christchurch sculptor, Andrew Drummond. They're the forerunner to Drummond's first comprehensive survey exhibition - Observation/Action/Reflection - that opens at Christchurch Art Gallery in May. The survey show covers a diverse range of works from 1980-2010 - everything from sculpture, installation, documentation of performance art, drawing, photography and technology. The above work is "Viewing Device, Counter-Rotating" steel, aluminium, air-system, paint 2008-2010. Partially-funded by Creative New Zealand, it is suspended the full height of the gallery's glass foyer - a powerful, mechanical presence that quietly glows and rotates, catching the exterior light and instilling a sense of wonder in viewers. Higher up on an interior wall, Counter-Rotating and Earthing Device, 'hisses and whirrs' as it brushes past a glass and copper earth-plate, causing a visible and audible electrical charge. Together, they provide obvious clues to Drummond's passion for technological innovation and precision engineering - and to his ability to "combine aesthetics and technology to create machines that reference both nineteenth-century and cutting-edge inventions. His full exhibition runs from May 14 to September 5.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Meet the People - 47

Another in the Series Meet the People - Ordinary and Extraordinary New Zealanders Doing Interesting Things - Keith Tyler-Smith and Jane McKenzie have turned their backs on national trends and have exchanged the rush of the city (Christchurch) for a quiet, unhurried lifestyle in the tiny village of Woodbury, near the equally unhurried town of Geraldine, in South Canterbury. It's a return home for Jane. She was born there, christened there, married there; and it's her passion for the region that has sparked the couple's latest venture, South Canterbury Tours.
St Thomas's, Woodbury It's taken five years of intensive research and planning for Keith and Jane to come up with their final tour concept - broadly speaking a two-pronged approach that includes Heritage & Culture and Food & Wine, though both can be specifically tailored to individual visitor needs. It goes without saying that Jane has a love for and a pride in the region she grew up in and she and Keith are great believers in local and regional tourism - showing off the best of the often-forgotten corners of New Zealand that reveal the true heart of the country.
Jane with local organic food producers
Old lime kilns at Kakahu, South Canterbury And like most of rural New Zealand, South Canterbury harbours a wealth of interest - innovative food and wine producers, quaint, historic, rural churches, landmark buildings, old limestone kilns, working farms, salmon farming, Maori rock art - and the soon-to-be-opened Ngai Tahu Maori Rock Art Trust Centre in Timaru. South Canterbury tours are small, local and focussed. They tell it like it is and they make sure visitors go away with an in-depth impression of small-town New Zealand and the ordinary, hospitable people who inhabit it.
Maori Rock Art Drawings, South Canterbury At the same time, this enterprising couple maintain assorted aspects of their previous careers. Keith, brought up in the UK, Zambia and Canada, is an educator, former film and television director/producer and is currently involved in developing e-Learning courses for a group of New Zealand polytechnics. Jane, a former journalist, university journalism tutor and editor, is also a qualified ESOL teacher, and another arm of their new tourism business - EnglishPlusAoraki - is aimed at attracting young, international travellers for combined language and adventure experiences. In short, it's all happening in Woodbury, as Keith and Jane, fresh from building their own new home, carve out an exciting, rural-based lifestyle for themselves. Proof that the best of New Zealand isn't always found in the cities.


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