Thursday, July 31, 2008

Going Nowhere - Again

"Landschaft - The Bridge to Nowhere, Whanganui" by Ann Shelton. Photo courtesy Sarjeant Gallery, Wanganui Further to yesterday's post about the Bridge to Nowhere and Wellington sculptor, Regan Gentry’s fabulous work based on the bridge (see below), I am delighted to present another artist’s impression of the same bridge. This stunning photographic work is by Wellington-based artist/photographer, Ann Shelton. Ann has exhibited widely throughout New Zealand and internationally and I hope you’ll all now tune into her website – – to see more of her exciting work.

Ten Clear Bottles

Fat Eddies July 2008. Ajr
Most people
Would order the liquid shot
I just want the photographic shot

Bar Crawl

SOL Square, Christchurch. July 2008. Ajr
On a cold stormy night when any sensible person would have been tucked up at home beside a cosy fire, I chose to go out and prowl around bars – in a strictly professional manner of course. I joined a group of Australasian media and conference organisers, in Christchurch for NZ Meetings 2008, on a tour of Sol Square. It was pelting down with rain but Sol’s night lights were twinkling regardless as we did the rounds of Fat Eddies, The Fish and Chip Shop, Ishimoto, Yellowcross, La Petite Croix, Cleaners Only and The Culture Cluba fabulous bunch of unique bars that have colonised the historic buildings and lanes that make up SOL (South of Lichfield). There are ten very different restaurants and bars in close proximity here – everything from a Japanese Yakitori and Sake bar through to live jazz, a nostalgic reinvention of the iconic Kiwi fish and chip shop, live bands, a gorgeous romantic champagne bar and a dark, moody little retreat tucked into what was, literally, an old cleaning cupboard, albeit a rather large one. A pity about the weather but that’s winter for you!

MTV Snow Jam Countdown

Terrace Downs Resort. Image Supplied.
If I was to throw around names like Lil Jon, Fat Joe, Baby Bash and P-Money you’d know I was talking about Hip Hop right? These guys are flying in to Christchurch in just over two weeks to perform along side Donavon Frankenreiter, The Grates, The Potbelleez, Cut Off Your Hands, PNC, David Dallas and local boys Opshop – and if you’re all wondering what this has to do with the gorgeous photograph I’ve posted here, that’s where they’ll be performing! MTV Snow Jam 2008 is being staged at Terrace Downs Resort (above), near Mt Hutt on Saturday, August 16th and if the music doesn’t knock your socks off the landscape surely will. Even better, it’s a free event being produced by MTV Australia and New Zealand and this year it will be broadcast in 30 countries. Dream event (if you’re a hip hop fan) and a dream location!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Art & The Bridge to Nowhere

"The End of the Tether," Regan Gentry. Image: Sarjeant Gallery
I loved living in Wanganui in the late eighties but I’ve always regretted not visiting the now-famous Bridge to Nowhere that was built across the Mangapurua Gorge in 1936. I was always intrigued by the notion of new settlers - discharged servicemen from World War I- arriving in this wild, enormous landscape miles from anywhere, trying to make sense of their new lives as (modern) pioneer farmers. It didn’t work. The settlement was abandoned in 1942 and the new bridge, part of a planned road designed to link Stratford to Raetihi, became a fascinating relic. To cut a long story short (which is totally against my nature I might add), that same bridge has inspired Wellington-based sculptor, Regan Gentry in the creation of his exhibition “Near Nowhere, Near Impossible,” which is showing at the Sarjeant Gallery in Wanganui until August 31. The show concludes Gentry’s six-month artist residency at the very cute Tylee Cottage. I love this work (above), “The End of the Tether,” an ambitious replica of the Bridge to Nowhere made from manila rope. It’s installed across the two front bays of the gallery’s west wing and viewers have to walk under “the thicket of hairy macramé” to enter the space.

Meet the People - 18

Top:Skiing in Wanaka. Bottom: Finding a playmate in the Galapagos Islands. Images Supplied.
Another in the series Meet the People – Ordinary and Extraordinary New Zealanders Doing Interesting ThingsBrian Savage and Colleen Ryan of Queenstown’s Remarkables Lodge know a thing or two about the adventurous life of the inveterate traveller. They quit their fast-paced working lives in London in their forties – their only plan: to have no plan at all. They set off in their yacht in 1994 and spent the next decade circumnavigating the world, sailing across the Atlantic (twice), the Pacific and the Indian Oceans, the Red Sea, the Baltic and the Mediterranean. Having seen so much of the world, they had the rare opportunity of standing back and deciding where they would ideally like to live. They chose Queenstown. “It had an unbeatable combination of assets and a climate we enjoyed; and given the fact that we ski and we sail, it made sense to be near lakes and mountains. And ten years on the open ocean and in remote anchorages gives you a taste for tranquillity and privacy which cities do not deliver.” After all those years travelling, running a retreat for travellers made perfect sense. “Every visitor has a story to tell and in the last year alone, our guests have included a lady astronaut, an Oscar winner, an Olympic gold medallist and someone who has climbed Everest (twice). There’s an energy and a vitality here in Queenstown that we love too. Yes, it’s beautiful, yes it has spirit but Queenstown also believes in itself and we like that.”

Mellow Yellow

Christchurch. July 2008. Ajr
There are always bright spots - even on cold winter days.
I stopped to photograph this crazy yellow garage overhung by an abundance of yellow crab apples when I was out biking yesterday afternoon. If you don't believe me...that's the shadow of my bike against the garage door.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Ski Heaven

Boarder Gaining Air at Cardrona Alpine Resort - Photo: Lake Wanaka Tourism
Night Skiing at Snow Park NZ - Photo from Snow Park NZ
We’ve had some ferocious winters days of late but that’s all great news for the skiers and snowboarders who will be heading to Wanaka in their droves over the next two months. Wanaka is ski-heaven! Cardrona Alpine Resort, Treble Cone and Snow Farm/Snow Park are all close to town and all have confirmed that they will host Olympic and National snow sports teams from the Northern Hemisphere, looking to continue training through their summer months (in our winter). Along with Alpine Skiing World Cup holder Bode Miller (USA), Treble Cone will host national teams from USA, Austria, Germany and Norway. Olympic teams from China, Japan, Australia and Italy will train in the freestyle park along with Olympic gold medallist Kelly Clark. Cardrona will host teams from Canada, Sweden and the United States; and more teams will head for Snow Park NZ once their superpipe has been primed. Many national snowboard teams will also be in training during August and September; and more are expected to arrive in preparation for the Winter Games NZ 2009, which is expected to attract 600 competing athletes. There’s also a healthy line up of events, starting tomorrow, (July 29) with the Burton New Zealand Open, which will see fired up snowboarders competing at Snow Park NZ. You can check out other events at – and if you’re in the mood for a hyped-up cosmopolitan ski atmosphere, Wanaka is the place to be.

Wings and Spikes

Queensland Outback. April 2008. Ajr
We all know about Australia's legendary reputation for being home for all manner of nasty biting, stinging, attacking poisonous critters. Here are two of its less threatening inhabitants - a rather large dragonfly and the famous echidna, which I photographed as it walked across the road.

Monday, July 28, 2008

A Dinosaur Named Sue

Top Image supplied by Puke Ariki & Field Museum, Chicago
Bottom Image by Grant Rewi, Auckland; Thanks to Puke Ariki & Field Museum, Chicago
When my sons were small they were obsessed with dinosaurs. They knew the names of almost every prehistoric monster that roamed the earth. So I had to smile when Grant, who now works at Auckland Museum, sent me this photo (bottom image) that he took at New Plymouth’s Puke Ariki recently. “A T.Rex Named Sue”opened in New Plymouth on July 26 and runs until November 2. Sue – a Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton measuring 12 feet tall and 42 feet long – was discovered in 1990 by commercial fossil hunter Sue Hendrickson in the Hell Creek Formation in western South Dakota, USA. The largest, most complete and best preserved T.rex skeleton yet discovered, Sue normally resides at Chicago’s Field Museum (their site has some great photos) and it took six 40-foot shipping containers to get her to New Zealand. Unpacking over 200 bones has been a big job – the skull alone measures 5-feet in length and when you see those enormous teeth you begin to appreciate why this monster has been tagged the most terrifying dinosaur of all. Fascinating stuff – and can you imagine Sue Hendrickson’s face when she dug this baby up!

Barry's Provocative Unpublished Minutes - 28

"The Devil is in the Detail"
Here's another ink-jet print from one of New Zealand's top printmakers.

Desert Dreams in Dubai

Image ia
I received a Press Release via eTN two days ago, about more extraordinary architectural developments in Dubai. What is to be the largest hospitality and leisure development in the world, Bawadi will feature 51 hotels offering 60,000 hotel rooms spread over a 10-square kilometre area. There will also be – of course – amusement centres, shopping malls, theatres, restaurants and convention centres…..all connected to create the longest shopping boulevard on earth. It’s hard to imagine all this on the edge of a desert. Clearly I will have to go and see for myself! In the meantime, for more information and a peek at the master plan, check out

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Cupcake Creations

Cupcakes by Me. July 2008. Ajr
This is how I amused myself with my new icing set.
What better way to enjoy a cold, wet, winter Sunday than to sit around the fire with good friends, drinking wine and coffee and scoffing little cakes!

An Unexpected Discovery

"Coil". Mark Whyte. Christchurch. July 2008. Ajr
I came upon this sculpture by Christchurch sculptor, Mark Whyte when I was out walking with a friend this morning. Entitled "Coil" 2006, it is tucked away in a small park way across the other side of town on the edge of an 'industrial' belt - not the sort of place I would have expected to find a public sculpture actually but a nice surprise nonetheless. I loved the way it was 're-casting' itself across the grass in shadow form.

Birds of a Feather

A Lyttelton Puddle. July 2008. Ajr
Two Feathered Friends
In a Lyttelton Puddle

Saturday, July 26, 2008

At the End of the Rainbow

Colombo Street, Christchurch. July 2008. Ajr
It's nice to comtemplate the possibility of a pot of gold
at the end of the rainbow; but all we got yesterday was more rain,
more mist and a mere five degrees!

Adelaide Streetscapes

Adelaide. 2007. Ajr It took me a long time to get to Adelaide - like most New Zealanders I had spent most of my time exploring Australia's east coast - but when I finally made it, I fell in love with the place. It's a fabulous city - so compact and exciting - and filled with some incredible architecture. I spent many hours walking the streets taking hundreds of photographs that I still enjoy looking through.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Art in a White Box

Victoria Street, Christchurch. July 2008. Ajr
I may not always like the art that is exhibited in this Christchurch gallery but I do like the white architectural form it sits within. Designed by the Christchurch architectural practice, Sheppard & Rout, the gallery is striking in its simplicity. And you have to hand it to the Fisher family, they’ve been around for a while now – six generations of the family have kept the gallery going since it was first established in 1870. That may well be some kind of New Zealand record in the gallery longevity stakes.

Artist Studios - 9

Graham Bennett, Christchurch. July 2008. Ajr
One of my favourite artist studios belongs to Christchurch sculptor, Graham Bennett, who in fact spreads his creativity over two big studios – one in his house, the other a large warehouse space given over to the necessary machines of large scale sculpture making. But it’s his home studio that inspires me most. There his ideas and inspirations spread all through an upstairs studio that sneaks into every available inch of roof space. It’s filled with drawings, models, marquettes and the quirky collectibles he surrounds himself with. It’s a hive of activity just now, as Graham works towards two exhibitions at Galerie Paris in Yokohama, Japan in September – one a collaboration with Dunedin fashion designer, Donna Tulloch of Mild Red; the other a solo show of his sculptures. From there he makes a hasty visit to Shanghai before opening his solo sculpture show at Gallery Koru in Hong Kong in October. He’s also been accepted for Sculpture in the Gulf 2009, the biennial outdoor sculpture exhibition placed along a 2-kilometre long public walkway at Matiatia Harbour, Waiheke Island. And that’s just some of his current projects – projects that can be as small as a piece of jewellery (see here) or as big as a sculpture that reaches 18-metres into the air (see here).

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Bear Facts

This photograph was sent to me yesterday by a friend in Chicago - the fabulously talented artist/printmaker, David Jansheski. We don’t know its source – it’s just one of those funny things that circulates the world at the speed of light via email – but it amused me so much I feel bound to share it. We don’t have bears in New Zealand so I’m quite intrigued by the notion of a giant bear wandering into my garden…… not to mention the idea of going through the motions (pardon me) of inspecting its faeces

Meet the People - 17

Jennifer Looman - centre. Photo by Tanja Dove Photography.
Another in the Series Meet the People – Ordinary and Extraordinary New Zealanders Doing Interesting ThingsWellington’s Jennifer Looman has a quirky, personalised approach to tourism – she’s just as happy showing off her favourite public bathroom…location a secret unless you join one of her City of Style Tours….as she is telling her guests what the capital’s Cable Car meant to her when she was young. Or there was the time she took a group of Canadian women to look over the Parliament Buildings and as they stood there, the red carpet was rolled out and the Prime Minister took to the steps to greet the Prime Minister of Vanuatu – with a full Maori welcome in tow. “I spent the next 30 minutes explaining where Vanuatu was and Txted pictures of the Prime Minister were sent back to their families within the hour. It was a pretty cool moment,” she says. Jennifer set up Wild About Wellington just over two years ago – “because I had just turned 40 and I lay in bed worrying that if I didn’t take the plunge and do something that thrilled me to the core, then I might just miss out on something dreadfully important.” Anyone who has joined Jennifer on one of her tours is no doubt highly appreciative of her moment of epiphany. There’s a City of Style Tour that takes you to meet local fashion designers and a Boutique Beer Tour (see below post) that introduces you to our finest ales – and both tours packed with great people, stories, coffee, arts, food and shopping.

Raising Your Glass

Wellington beer expert, Neil Miller, right with David Wild. Photo by Tanja Dove Photography.
“Getting plonked on Fiji bitter on an outer Fijian island” was about Jennifer Looman’s lot until she met Wellington beer expert, Neil Miller (pictured above right), who is now the key to Wild About Wellington’s hugely successful Boutique Beer Tours. “I’m now slightly snobby about drinking something with a clean finish and with a decent amount of hops,” she says. “Tuatara is my all-time favourite brewery – I love the whole range.” With big breweries stitching up so much of the industry there is sometimes little scope for small New Zealand breweries “to provide their nectar on tap in big cities” but in Wellington The Malthouse is a beer drinker’s Mecca with over 150 beers to choose from, and around 30 of those on tap. You can take the 3-hour walking beer tour yourself – day or night - to explore some of Wellington’s other brewery/beer highlights – “ like Sassy Red from Macs, or Mayhem by Epic in Auckland. I’ll go out in a southerly to have that,” says Jennifer.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Small Moments of Greed

Lemon Flavoured Deliciousness

Speaking the Language

Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu promotional material It’s Maori Language Week again – something that has occurred in New Zealand every year since 1975. It’s a time to celebrate Maori language (te Reo Maori) and this year it runs from July 21-27 with the theme te Reo i te kainga – Maori language in the home. When I was in the Ngai Tahu offices here in Christchurch this morning, I was lucky enough to see parts of a video that has been prepared as part of the Ngai Tahu language initiatives. I also picked up this brochure, prepared as part of Ngai Tahu’s Generation Reo campaign, Kotahi Mano Kaika, Kotahi Mano Wawata (One thousand homes, one thousand aspirations), which was established to raise awareness of and an appreciation for Maori language among Ngai Tahu people. There has been a huge resurgence in te Reo Maori, especially since New Zealand officially became a bilingual nation in 1987. Generation Reo is all about encouraging families to speak Maori at home and it’s about a whole lot more than just giving the next generation a second language; it’s also about strengthening identity and saving another of the world’s languages from extinction. As someone who is passionate about language fullstop, I find it very gratifying to see Ngai Tahu, as just one iwi (tribe) on a mission to restore te Reo Maori within homes. As their promotional material points out, “it takes one generation to lose a language and three generations to revive it.”

Colours of the Night

Christchurch. July 2008. Ajr
Two different lights
Two different nights

The Spaces Between -13

Napier. June 2008. Ajr
And more of my own pre-occupation with the long, thin spaces between buildings

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Snakes Alive!

Victoria, Australia. 2007. Ajr
Given the bleakness of the day, I decided to seek something colourful and unexpected in my photo files. This is what I came up with - two shots from last year’s trip to Woodend, which sits approximately 69 km north of Melbourne in Central Victoria. The colourful leucodendrons were on sale at the local florist shop. The madman with a snake wrapped around his neck was a different story. I photographed him at Kyneton – at the annual Agricultural Show. He and his mate were giving a riveting demonstration of snake handling, complete with all the information you'd ever need on of Australia’s most venomous snakes. I’m not a big fan of snakes but there is this perverse fascination that draws me to them – and then of course I reel back in horror.

Cool Cars - 11

One Blue XJV12 Jaguar - Spotted in Manchester Street, Christchurch

Barry's Provocative Unpublished Minutes - 27

"Men of Every Creed."
Another artistic statement from one of New Zealand's top printmakers

Outside Conventions

Christchurch Convention Centre. July 2008. Ajr
Christchurch artist Philip Trusttum is not one to be bound by conventions. His works are exuberant and generally enormous. These are two of his paintings at the Christchurch Convention Centre (and that’s a Bing Dawe sculpture in between) – the two smallest ones. His other enormous work here runs the full width of the building – the full width of a city block in fact. You can see more of Phil’s work here and at

Monday, July 21, 2008

Small Moments of Beauty

Unseasonal Roses
Perfect White
Like Snow

One Creepy Tree

Victoria Street, Christchurch. 2008. Ajr I went out walking with a friend on Saturday – or that was the intention. She ended up shopping while I loitered with intent in the street outside. While she snapped up fashion bargains, I was snapping this creepy little tree that seemed to take on a life of its own when silhouetted against the pale sky and the high rise behind.

Looks Can Be Deceiving

Lake Forsyth, Banks Peninsular. July 2008. Ajr
When you stand on the edge of Lake Forsyth – known to Maori as Wairewa – it’s hard not to feel a little sad about this poisoned place. A few days ago it looked moody and enticing, pretty almost; but this is not a lake you want to swim or fish in. Thanks to a wide range of contributing culprits - from erosion and bird fouling to human effluent - the lake suffers from algal contamination. Its water is poisoned, fish are dying, it is silting up and boating on the lake is virtually non-existent. Once a valuable food resource for Maori – especially eels – it is predicted it will become a swamp within five years if the problem can’t be solved.

Caffiene Fiends

Dunedin. 2007.Ajr
This is one cafe in Dunedin that makes no secret
of its passion for good coffee

Sunday, July 20, 2008

In the Pink

Victoria Street, Christchurch. July 2008. Ajr
It's mid-winter but in the world of retail
Spring is already here
Seasonally speaking that is.
The proliferation of 50% sales everywhere
is a testament to tightened (money) belts

The Wisdom of Billboards

Fitzgerald Avenue, Christchurch. July 2008. Ajr
Sometimes the billboards say it all for us!

On Journeys

Dunedin.2007. Ajr
The best journeys are not necessarily the longest, the most testing or the most expensive. For me, a short journey across town can be as exciting and enlightening as any marathon event that takes me to the northern hemisphere. And, as this sign suggests, it’s not just about the destination – it’s about taking ourselves out of our comfort zones; it’s about leaving yourself open to challenge, discovery and discomfort; it’s about opening our eyes and really seeing.

Art in Unexpected Places

Last time I was in Victoria, I visited the popular little town of Daylesford, about an hour north of Melbourne. That’s where I discovered this fabulous old convent. I spent hours here, wandering about marvelling at the architecture and wondering what life might have been like within its rabbits’ warren of spaces when it served as the Holy Cross Convent and Boarding School for Girls. Originally built as a private mansion in the 1860s, it was bought by the Catholic Church in the 1890s. It ceased life as a church facility in 1973 and was again purchased by a private owner – an artist - who converted it into a series of living and gallery spaces. It’s now open to the public and features several galleries, cafes, restaurant and bar, accommodation, reception rooms, gift shop and a gorgeous restored chapel. There’s even a religious museum in the basement (which was a little spooky) and, at the very top of the building, the nun’s infirmary has been left in its original state and now serves as a long thin gallery space that I loved – it reeked of history and past lives.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Winter Waves

Birdlings Flat July 2008 Ajr
Milky Turqouise Waves
Crashing Ashore
Like Whipped Cream

One Man on a Beach

Birdlings Flat July 2008. Ajr One lone beach walker On a cold winter's day at Birdlings Flat

A Bird on a Branch

Kereru. Takamatua. 2007. Ajr
Meet Hemiphaga novaeseelandiae, more commonly known to we New Zealanders as Kereru, or wood pigeon, although Wikipedia will tell you “they’re not the same as the (true) wood pigeon (Columba palumbus), which is a member of a different genus.” I adore these chubby, colourful birds and it’s no wonder to me that early Maori considered them a delicacy - they do look very juicy. I took this photo about eighteen months ago at a friend’s bach at Takamatua on Banks Peninsular, where kereru are relatively common.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Diamonds are Forever.....

.......….especially when they’re set in stone! Love this ring by Christchurch jeweller, Elfi Spiewack. A diamond set into a greywacke pebble.

Follow the Sign

Christchurch. July 2008. Ajr
I took heed of this inner city billboard this morning and I drove out to Birdlings Flat - ostensibly for an interview but I was 'stood up.' But no matter, I took the opportunity to prowl about with my camera, despite the misty, murky, drizzly weather.


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