Saturday, May 31, 2008

Tantalising Thai

Vietnamese Salad @ Thai Pho, Christchurch. May 2008. Ajr
And what better way to round off a terrific day, than to savour subtle Vietnamese and Thai flavours at a terrific new restaurant - Thai Pho, on the corner of Colombo and Peterborough Streets in the centre of Christchurch. It's one of the brightest, most colourful little Asian restaurants I've been in in ages. Even better, the food was fresh, full of heavenly flavours and served with a smile and bright conversation. I'm a sucker for fresh Vietnamese spring rolls and these ones I would almost kill for! Even better to be taken on a journey down memory lane - back to the incredible lush greenness of Vietnam via their superb photographs. I already feel a return visit coming on.

Opera at Claremont

Claremont Country estate. May 2008. Ajr
It was a perfect North Canterbury day to laze about under gigantic trees at Claremont Country Estate listening to Dame Malvina Major singing from some of her favourite operas. Factor in unbelievable quantities of tender barbecued meats, espresso, Waipara Valley wines, delectable sweet treats and a gigantic auction and you have the perfect fundraiser. All this in aid of local rider, Annabel Wigley, shortlisted for the New Zealand Olympic equestrian team.

More Mannequin Madness

Victoria Street, Christchurch. May 2008 Ajr.
If I had to come back to earth as a mannequin, this is how I would like to look!
(Just slightly left of centre)

Happy Birthday George!

The Cake May 2008. Ajr
When you turn 21 you HAVE to have a birthday cake.
Even if you're a hotel.
And so we celebrated 21 years of The George's fine service to hospitality.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Are You Being Served?

Johnson's Grocery, Colombo Street, Christchurch. May 2008. Ajr
I wandered in to Johnson’s Grocery in Colombo Street this morning on my way to meet a friend. At Johnson’s the shelves bulge and things are done the old way. Long before the trendy age of delis and specialist food stores, Johnson’s were importing Stilton cheese, French escargot, Scottish haggis, French truffles, and English sweets along with a myriad of other edible delights from just about every corner of the globe. They still are and what’s more, Colin Johnson still wears his white grocer’s apron and calculates his customers’ bills in his head – although he has conceded to adding EftPost facilities. Colin’s father Stan bought the business way back in 1949 – I wonder what he’d make of the fact that Johnson’s Grocery is now a tourist attraction.

Barry's Provocative Unpublished Minutes - 18

"It All Seems to be Just One Thing After Another."
One more in the continuing series of inkjet prints from one of our leading printmakers.

When Old Age is a Good Thing

Cardrona Hotel, 2007. Ajr.
Welcome to one of the most photographed buildings in New Zealand – Cardrona Hotel. Nestled in to the base of the Crown Range twenty minutes from Wanaka, the Cardrona has a legendary reputation as a popular après-ski hangout. It’s within sneezing distance of five ski fields; I guess that helps. Established in 1863 it’s one of the country’s oldest hotels and with its memorabilia displays, roaring fires and hearty meals it has a quirky, rustic appeal that seems to endure. Now, with a fresh, refurbished face, it’s priming itself for the 2008 ski season. The mulled wine is probably being prepared ‘as we speak.’

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Eye To Eye

Victoria Street, Christchurch May 2008 Ajr.
The Eye-T chair, photographed outside a Victoria Street furniture store.
I loved the mirror image reflections.


inform, High Street, Christchurch. May 2008. Ajr
When I was wandering around the city this morning I saw this terrific interplay of light, colour, form and reflection at inform, a classy little High Street gallery featuring contemporary New Zealand jewellery - a den of inspired craftsmanship. The window display is a work called “Whispers” by Wanganui glass artist, Katie Brown of the Chronicle Glass Studio. Chronicle, a co-operative of three glass artists – Katie Brown, Lyndsay Patterson and Karen Ellet – is so named because it occupies the historic printing press annex of the old Wanganui Chronicle Newspaper building in the Old Town Precinct, just up from the Wanganui River.

Going Green

GreenCabs. May 2008. Ajr
How cool is this for a cab? This one ‘lives’ just down the road from me and every time I drive past it I think it’s time I took a taxi ride. Green Cabs uses the only hybrid vehicles that run on battery-powered electricity and petrol – the Toyota Prius - and they also offset their carbon emissions by planting trees in developing countries. The eco-friendly Wellington-based company launched its first eight fresh, minty-green cabs in Christchurch a few weeks ago and they expect to have 50 on the road within two years. They currently have around 30 cars in both Auckland and Wellington. Dare I say it – they’re a breath of fresh air in the boring sea of white taxis that serve the city.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Vote for the Abel Tasman!

Awaroa Lodge & Abel Tasman National Park. Pix Supplied.

Who wouldn’t fall in love with a secluded upmarket lodge in a setting as perfect as this? Nestled into what is undoubtedly one of our most beautiful ‘crown jewels’ – the Abel Tasman National ParkAwaroa Lodge was voted Best Hotel in Eco Tourism at the 2005 New Zealand Tourism Awards. Everyone who visits this chic lodge falls in love with it – and with the surrounding park. Noted for its exceptional beauty, the Abel Tasman is all about crystal clear turquoise waters, golden beaches, sandy estuaries, limestone and marble formations, beech forest, a stunning 2-3-day walking track and sublime kayaking conditions. And now the park itself has been nominated for an award – for the 2008 World Travel Awards as Australasia’s Leading Beach. If you’d like to vote for the Abel Tasman, head straight for The Australasian award winners will be announced in Sydney on June 10th. And to see more about the very beautiful Awaroa Lodge click on

An Apple a Day

Autumn Crab Apples. May 2008. Ajr.
I stopped in at Under the Red Verandah for coffee on Sunday. This is a terrific café in an old two-storied house near Linwood. They have a fabulous crab apple tree in the garden and they’ve used the rosy little fruits as decorative elements inside. I couldn’t go passed this crab apple window display without taking a quick photograph.

Leading Light

"Coral/Floral" David Trubridge, NZ. Photographed 2007. Ajr
Here I go again – playing with shadows. ‘Coral/Floral’ designed by internationally acclaimed New Zealand furniture and lighting designer, David Trubridge is just perfect for a bit of idle ‘shadow play.’ I photographed this last year in a Christchurch office. I love the way the shadows play down the stairwell. David, who has exhibited in Paris, New York, London, Milan and Australia, lives in the Hawke’s Bay.

Glass Treasures

Photographed at SKYCITY Grand Hotel, Auckland, 2007. Ajr
Ann Robinson is New Zealand’s leading cast glass artist. She’s produced a stunning range of glass treasures including this luminous beauty that I photographed last year at Auckland’s SKYCITY Grand Hotel. “Side Carved Flax Pod 2002” is one of a series – saturated in colour, glowing almost. Robinson has had a significant impact on the Studio Glass Movement both nationally and internationally; she’s won multiple awards and exhibited internationally; and she’s been invited to teach at the prestigious Pilchuck Glass School in Washington, USA. You can see more of Ann’s stunningly beautiful pieces by checking in to

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Architectural Icon

Top Left: Corridor; Top Right: Timber Chamber; Bottom: the Stone Chamber. Ajr
In the hushed flagstone corridors of Christchurch’s Canterbury Provincial Council Buildings, you could be forgiven for imagining robed monks shuffling through the silence. I sought refuge here yesterday – away from the wintry elements – in one of the most spectacular examples of Victorian Gothic architecture in the country. Designed by Benjamin Mountford, New Zealand’s leading Gothic Revival architect of the time, the Provincial Council Buildings (1858-1865) are the only purpose-built provincial government buildings still in existence in New Zealand. My favourite features are these moody flagstone corridors, the beautiful timber chamber and the spectacular Stone Chamber, which features amazing stained glass, timber carving, elaborate tile and stone work, a ceiling to die for and one of only five double-faced clocks in the world.

The Stone Chamber

The Stone Council Chamber, Canterbury Provincial Council Buildings. 2008. Ajr
Here's another view of the magnificent Stone Council Chamber. Cathedral-like it has a high mezzanine seating area above the entrance and beautiful arched, stained glass windows down either side.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Winter Ocean

New Brighton Beach from the Pier. May 2008 Ajr
Yes, it was as cold as it looks!

Pier Promenades

New Brighton Pier, Christchurch. May 2008. Ajr
When I was out at New Brighton Beach yesterday, I took the opportunity to walk out to the end of the pier. It’s only 300 metres long and it’s invariably freezing when you get out there, especially at this time of year - and you could be forgiven for thinking it a bit of an anti-climax. However, the views are almost always terrific – especially looking north across Pegasus Bay toward the Kaikoura Ranges (see earlier sea views). The original wooden New Brighton Pier was built in 1894 and demolished in 1964. This new concrete version was officially opened in 1997. Gone are the days when a pier stroll was a jaunty social occasion complete with penny arcades and music but it’s a popular fishing spot and a lazy amble from the New Brighton Library that now graces the land end of the pier. And every year it hosts Christchurch’s major Guy Fawke’s fireworks display.

Clawing Your Way to the Top

Waipapa Bay, South Island, NZ 2007 Ajr
Anyone who has ever driven around New Zealand will be quick to recognise the quirky penchant we have for decorating our towns with larger-than-life regional features. The fishing town of Rakaia has its giant salmon; Ohakune has its giant carrot; Cromwell its giant fruit and so on. And, in and around the South Island seaside town of Kaikoura, you’ll find the assorted giant crayfish (NZ rock lobster) that the area is famous for. This little shop at Waipapa Bay, just north of Kaikoura is one of my favourites – I love the fact that the ‘adornments’ are almost as big as the building itself.

Hedging My Bets

"A Small Book of Hedges." 2007 Ajr
Anyone who has been following this blog from the beginning will have noticed my interest in hedges. This is only the tip of the iceberg. I have hundreds of photographs of hedges – many gathered around New Zealand last year during my Frommers travel guide research; and many more photographed in Australia. To celebrate hedges, I compiled many of the best images into a book last year – “A Small Book of Hedges.” I thought that might cure me of this strange obsession. I was wrong. I’m still as drawn as ever to the strong, blocky, sculptural forms of a good hedge and I’m well on the way to having enough images for “A Small Book of Hedges II – The Sequel.”

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Winter Seascape

New Brighton Beach, Christchurch. May 2008. Ajr
Yes! It was as cold as it looks when I visited New Brighton Beach this morning.
But the skies were fabulous!

Meeting Elvis.

Stanmore Road, Christchurch. May 2008. Ajr
The last person I expected to come face-to-face with on a cold Sunday morning in Christchurch was Elvis Presley! That's the joy of exploring your own city - you can never be entirely sure of what lurks around the next corner. I love the unexpectness of that.


"Chalice" by Neil Dawson, Christchurch. Ajr
I don't care what anyone says about Neil Dawson's "Chalice" in Cathedral Square, I love it!
I can't even begin to count how many photographs I've taken of it.
You'll see a couple more of this internationally-regarded Christchurch sculptor's work if you put his name in to the Search Box at the top left of this page or check

Oink! Oink!

Rundle Mall, Adelaide, Australia. 2007 Ajr
Every so often you come upon a piece of public sculpture that brings a smile to your face. Look at the guy in this photo -he just can't help himself. These two porkers are part of a group of bronze pigs that have 'taken up residence' in Adelaide's busy Rundle Mall. I never got the name of the artist at the time, so if anyone from Adelaide - or anywhere else - reading this knows, please send me an email.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Words for Winter

COLDicewetdarknesssnowblizzardwindrainsleetsnowFOG coldCHILLSFIRESshiveringhail

Barry's Provocative Unpublished Minutes - 17

"Biting off the Hand that Feeds."
Another in the continuing series of ink-jet prints by one of New Zealand's leading printmakers.

It's a Sign!

Cunnamulla, Queensland, Australia. 2008. Ajr
I photographed this whacky little road sign outside the Cunnamulla cemetery in the Australian Outback in South West Queensland when I was there in April. I never saw a single turtle the entire time I was there but I like the idea of them bringing traffic to a standstill. That would be a photograph worth waiting for.

Yellow Mall

Here’s another of my ‘Coloured Malls’ – photographed in response to a recent discussion about the ugliness of shopping malls. I defended them – suggesting that there are ‘little moments of beauty’ everywhere if you look, even in a crowded shopping mall – and then felt bound to prove my point.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Sweet Tooth

Riccarton Market. 2008. Ajr
When it's only 7-degrees outside, it seems only fair that we indulge ourselves.
These little treats from The Cupcake Collection, a Christchurch company creating bite-sized edible works of art. It seems like a happy marriage of interests to me.

Small Moments of Beauty

In Winter

The Best Night Out

I’m a great believer in the fact that a restaurant interior is just as important as the food you’re presented with and I think far too many New Zealand restaurants completely miss the opportunity of giving guests a full, rich, memorable dining experience – one that touches ALL the senses. One place that understands this is The Dining Room, an exquisite gourmet restaurant at Auckland’s small luxury hotel, Mollies, in Ponsonby. I’m pleased to say they have mastered the art of the total dining experience – a fact recently recognised by their winning a special award for Best Night Out” at the Metro/Audi Restaurant of the Year Awards, 2008. It is more than fitting that this award joins a string of other top class international acknowledgements, among them, three top awards from Andrew Harper’s Hideaway Report Hotel Awards, including “Best New Small Hotel in the World.”

Remarkable Views

Imagine waking up to views like this –Lake Wakatipu and the snow-clad Remarkables Range. You can if you choose to inhabit Matakauri Lodge’s new Grand Villa. Its elevated perch high above the lake presents an ever-changing outlook that will take your breath away. Best of all, you’re nestled among native bush far away from public roads. It’s all about total peace, total seclusion and total luxury.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Moving Sculpture

"Nucleus" Phil Price, Christchurch. May 2008 Ajr.
I am ambivalent about this large kinetic sculpture by Christchurch artist, Phil Price. Some days I think “Nucleus” is incredibly clever (and I’m sure it is); other days I think it’s just plain ugly. You can see more (more interesting) works by Phil Price at

Vineyard Autumn

Autumn 2007, Queenstown. Ajr
In the mood of our everlasting autumn, here's a quick glimpse at the vines at GVW - Gibbston Valley Wines, one of the most visited wineries in Australasia, near Queenstown. It's pinot noir, chardonnay, sauvignon blanc and Riesling are all award winners. They also have a fabulous wine cave that was blasted out of the rocky cliffs behind the winery.

Red Mall

May 2008. Ajr
I found myself having a discussion about the ugliness of shopping malls recently. I defended them – suggesting that there are ‘little moments of beauty’ everywhere if you look – even in a crowded shopping mall. Yesterday, armed with a camera and far too much spare time, I set out to prove my point - that even in retail madness there is visual beauty. And so begins a series of ‘Coloured Malls.'

No Escape

Kotuku. Canterbury Museum.May 2008. Ajr
When I was in the Australian outback recently I was blown away by the extent of the birdlife and I regretted not having taken my SLR and telephoto lens. I was very disappointed with my bird photos and I considered giving up on birds as photographic subjects althogether. However, when I was in Canterbury Museum on Tuesday afternoon (trying to escape the cold), I found my forte – dead birds!! They can’t escape and I don’t need a telephoto lens. I was rather taken with this picturesque little diorama featuring our very beautiful white heron – Kotuku in Maori and Egretta alba to the ornithologists. The only nesting colony of white heron in New Zealand is found on the Waitangiroto River, near the coast at Okarito Lagoon in South Westland and you'll need to take a tour to see them.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Shadow Play

Brisbane, April 2008. Ajr
I spent as much time in Queensland Art Gallery in Brisbane photographing shadows and reflections as I did actually looking at the artworks. I’ve said it all before so many times I'm almost sick of myself – I love shadows, I love reflections.

My Kind of Fruit

Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, April 2008. Ajr
“3 Pears 1975”, cast polyurethane with shellac finish by George Baldessin; photographed at Queensland Art Gallery in Brisbane, in April. If you enter the name George Baldessin into Google, you’ll come up with several artists by that name. This sculpture was created by Italian-born Australian resident, the late George Victor Joseph Baldessin (1939-1978).

The Spaces Between - 10

May 2008. Ajr
I am always drawn to long thin spaces for reasons I cannot explain. I felt very drawn to this one at the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament in Christchurch yesterday – a pale shaft of sunlight just catching the enormous columns that sheltered a side door.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


.......... a small, perfectly formed chocolate seems like the perfect answer to any question.

Use Your Brain

Here’s an eye-catching environmental message from Australian artist, Michael Callaghan from New South Wales. I photographed “Use Your Brain, Use the Train, ”screen print,1990, at the Queensland Art Gallery in Brisbane in April.

Booming Brisbane

Brisbane High Rise, April 2008. Ajr
It's an understatement to say that Australia's Brisbane is in the middle of a building boom - it has been for the last ten years. When I was there recently I counted at least 30 cranes on the skyline. A taxi driver told me it was all about the booming mining and coal industries. Who am I to argue? I loved this new central city building - and from where I'm sitting in freezing cold Christchurch, that blue sky looks especially enticing.

Autumn Cemetery

Cemetery, Christchurch. May 2008. Ajr
I love the contrast in this scene – the solid, sombre orderliness of the grave stones and the colourful, fluttering dishevelment of the autumn cherry trees. At the risk of sounding intensely morbid, I can spend hours in cemeteries. I find them deeply contemplative places filled with unspoken histories and poignant comments on life and death. And like many writers, photographers, artists, I find a wealth of inspiration in their ‘quiet solitude.’

Barry's Provocative Unpublished Minutes - 16

"Another Fable - Hillary Gets to Baghdad."
Another in the ongoing series from our sometimes controversial printmaker

Monday, May 19, 2008

For Gentlewomen

McLean's Mansion, Christchurch. May 2008. Ajr
Back in 1899-1902 when this massive home was being built for wealthy Scottish immigrant farmer, Allan McLean, it was one of the largest and grandest private properties in Christchurch. It probably still is – although it’s no longer private; it’s currently home to a private tertiary training institute. McLean, a bachelor, built the home for his retirement but only got to live there for five years before he died. It was McLean’s wish that the mansion and his bequest of 220,000 pounds be used to assist “gentlewomen, or women of refinement or education” who had fallen on hard times – so that they might “live under circumstances approximating with those under which they had been brought up.” Oh to be a ‘gentlewoman’ I say! I love this place and one day soon I’m going to pretend to be a tertiary student so I can get a look inside. After all, I’m a woman and I can be gentle.

The Collectors - 3

Some people collect the strangest things – I’m one of them. One of my latest obsessions is perfume tester cards. Not only are the graphics beautiful but if you spray them with the appropriate perfume, you end up with a sweet smelling collection (always important). I gather them in airport duty free shops. It’s easy to pretend that I’m looking for a new perfume because I invariably am (perfume is a weakness); although if I’m viewed on security cameras I must appear dubious as I work my way around the displays looking shiftily over my left shoulder.

Small Moments of Beauty

Cemetery flowers


Blog Widget by LinkWithin