Sunday, August 31, 2008
When the New Brighton Library opened in 1999 on the land end of Brighton Pier it caused a bit of a stir – for a start it was a startlingly attractive addition to a shabby Christchurch suburb that had long-since said goodbye to its heyday. Designed by Andrew Barclay and Scott Koopman of Warren & Mahoney Architecture, the award-winning building has held up well. The same can’t be said for the still-shabby suburb that surrounds it. However, I was so caught up in blue skies and shimmering architecture when I visited New Brighton yesterday that I was prepared to forgive the place almost anything. http://www.warrenandmahoney.com/
I biked out to New Brighton early yesterday and spent the day's first hours photographing. It goes without saying that there will be more of those shots here soon but in the meantime, this is one I took from the pier looking towards Sumner. I like the way the two beach walkers have been 'made miniature' by the large landscape.
It's Sunday, so how about we have a little church architecture?
This is the very pretty St.Augustine's Anglican Church
in the Cashmere Hills, Christchurch
August 2008 Ajr.
I like the way the church roof
Juts out in an unexpected triangle.
It's a lovely combination of shapes
Saturday, August 30, 2008
Thinking of Rotorua yesterday (when I wrote, below, about Treetops Lodge), I was prompted to think of another of my favourite Rotorua places - Ohinemutu Maori Village. It's home to the historic Tamatekapua meeting house (above), the very beautiful St Faith's Church and a whole lot of stunning Maori carving, as illustrated in the exquiste and gigantic 'totem' here. What makes this place even more fascinating, is that the village sits right on the edge of Lake Rotorua amid a flurry of natural, steaming, hissing thermal vents. You can wander through the tight little network of narrow streets and see steaming rising from lawns, pavements and roadsides.
I've always been drawn to these two crazy little trees outside a Chinese takeaway store on Colombo Street and I finally stopped to photograph them. I particularly like the Jumbo Food Centre sign that appears to grow out of the top of one of them
Friday, August 29, 2008
The last time I stayed at Treetops Lodge near Rotorua it was mid-winter 2005 and I had the entire lodge to myself. I was half way through writing the 4th edition of Frommers New Zealand and when I drove down the long, bush-lined driveway, it felt like I was driving into the depths of a Lord of the Rings set. That’s the beauty of Treetops – it feels like it’s a million miles from anywhere, yet it’s just 30 minutes from central Rotorua. Mind you, once you’re tucked up in one of the luxurious bush-clad suites, there’s almost NO inclination to go anywhere. I know I was hoping everyone would forget I was there! It’s one of my favourite New Zealand lodges. www.treetops.co.nz www.navigateoceania.com
Another in the Series Meet the People – Ordinary and Extraordinary New Zealanders Doing Interesting Things - When people ask acclaimed Wellington-based beer critic Neil Miller how he became a beer writer, he says he was simply an enthusiastic amateur lucky enough to turn professional. He says that while he had learnt how to research during six years at Parliament and how to speak through university debating, he hadn’t always appreciated good beer. “My beer drinking career got off to a rough start with a slightly warm six-pack of Rheineck – an unpleasant experience put my beer appreciation back several years,” he says. Suffice to say, he recovered. “My first allegiance was to Lion Brown then Tui. For me at that time, Tui suited every social occasion and matched every type of food. The Tui team were probably using me as a case study of the perfect consumer.” Then things changed. For years, a very good friend had been trying to tempt Neil away from his favoured “East India Pale Ale (yeah right) with a range of fine local and international beers. “While everyone around him sported the generic lager de jour, he would have a veritable cornucopia of pilsners, extra special bitters and barley wine. He always tempted me to “try a bit of this, sir, instead of your bog standard New Zealand lager. Thanks to his efforts, whole new vistas of beer opened up and I’ve been frolicking happily in them ever since.” Neil says the development of his beer taste has paralleled the welcome development of a real beer culture in New Zealand. He’s gone from a single-brand mainstream drinker to one who appreciates a wide variety of beers. “The craft beer scene in New Zealand is going from strength to strength and exciting new imports seem to be arriving daily. And with an Epic Pale Ale in my hand, I know which lifestyle I prefer."http://realbeer.co.nz/alefiles/beer_writers/neil_miller/ and http://www.beerandbrewer.com
Thursday, August 28, 2008
....in a manner of speaking at least. This was the innocuous summery scene on The Strip this afternoon - that stretch of bars and cafes along Oxford Terrace next to the Avon that transforms into a whole other 'beast' on a Thursday, Friday and Saturday night when the party-goers come out to play.
German-born Christchurch-based jeweller Elfi Spiewack likes to develop new ways of seeing, wearing and maybe even defining jewellery. Working within the fascinating confines of her inner city studio, The Filing Kabinett, she enjoys the interplay of different values and scales - a diamond set in a pebble for instance. She has also mastered the art of combining unexpected materials and of giving an old idea a fresh contemporary take. These two pearl necklaces for instance, completely blow apart my theory that the traditional string of pearls is old-fashioned and passé.
Clockwise from top left: Cunnamulla, Southwest Queensland; Daylesford, Victoria; Castlemaine, Victoria; Adelaide, South Australia.
When Australian chef and brewer, Scott Watkins-Sully decided to embark on a journey around Australia, travelling from pub to pub, everyone he knew threatened to quit their jobs and join him. Watkins-Sully had hit upon the dream job. He shut down his own brewing operation and hit the road with his wife and two young kids. Over “25,000 kilometres, 300 counter meals and 200 tantrums” later, he could be forgiven for having imbibed more than his share of cold beers. He should also be applauded for producing “The Australian Crawl” (Piccadilly Books), a comprehensive guide to Australia’s regional pubs that shows the Aussies love nothing better than a few cold beers and a good yarn down at the pub. From an architectural and sociological point of view the grand old Aussie pub is about as iconic as it gets. I love them and every time I go to Australia I add to my collection of photos. The embellished corner establishments (and they’re almost always on corners), have been written into Australian culture and whether you’re roaming the sun-baked outback, cruising through small-town Australia or city suburbs, you’ll find a pub with a great story.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
It was a cold wet day when I came upon this fountain sculpture by one of New Zealand’s leading Maori artists, Para Matchitt. It sits in a small square in the Hawke’s Bay town of Havelock North and was commissioned as part of the town’s redevelopment. I think I like it.
When you look down on Princess Margaret Hospital from the hills above, it has a huge, brutal, institutional look to it that would hardly encourage visitors. Yet from the front, this gigantic red brick building - designed in 1946 by the architectural partnership of Seward and Stanton and opened in 1959 - has a striking series of curves and a solid, utilitarian beauty that caught me quite off guard when I visited a friend there last week. Maybe we can put some of that down to the Dutch Modern architectural style that influenced the original design.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
From the permanence of Andrea Palladio’s 1550s design of Villa di Maser wine estate in Veneto, Italy to the iconic splendour of Louis Combes 1810 landmark Bordeaux winery at Chateau Margaux, there are plenty of precedents to suggest that good wine and good architecture make perfect partners. In New Zealand winemakers are as alert as their international counterparts to the potential of creating a unique identity with the help of striking, individual architecture winery design. Peregrine Wines in Central Otago’s Gibbston Valley is a classic example. This spectacular structure - evocative of our native hawk in flight - was designed by Chris Kelly of Architecture Workshop, Wellington and is the only New Zealand building to have ever been named in the prestigious London-based ar+d Emerging Architecture awards.
Check out the Peregrine website if you want to see much better photos. I was in a hurry when I took this and I could have done better.
I used this photograph here a few months back but it was so small you probably needed a magnifying glass. I decided it deserved a better display. So here, once again, is the very gorgeous Wharekauhau Country Estate – a little piece of paradise that sits in splendid isolation at the very bottom of the North Island. If you have pockets stuffed with cash, I’m sure you’ll enjoy spending some of it here and you need never see another human being for the duration – if you so choose. www.wharekauhau.co.nz
Monday, August 25, 2008
I came upon a new design store on the weekend.
FUN FORM FUNCTION
with an interesting range of FUN products from F3 design.
Both companies are the brainchild of the Wright-Stow family
Well known for their creation of the funky Little River Gallery just outside Christchurch.
Another in the Series Meet the People – Ordinary and Extraordinary New Zealanders doing Interesting Things – Graeme Maxwell is the last qualified master furrier in New Zealand and you’ll find him up to his elbows in possum fur in his Christchurch studio, where he crafts stunning jackets, luxurious bed covers and indulgent accessories. Graeme is a fully qualified bespoke tailor and fur cutter so he’s just the man to create that special one-off garment you’ve always wanted. Fibre Zone is the business he’s created with his wife, Rosalie and together they’re spreading the word about the luxurious warmth and beauty of natural fibres – possum fur chief among them. Graeme may have completed his apprenticeship in mink but he prefers the softness and lightness of possum fur and if it helps rid our forests of that cute little pest then so much the better. The estimated population of 70 million Bushtail possums happily munches its way through an estimated 21,000 tons of New Zealand forest foliage each night. And did you know that possum fur is one of only two hollow-fibre furs in the world. The other is polar bear fur. That makes the fibres incredibly light and the fur has terrific heat retention because of it. Given our current weather patterns, I can think of nothing nicer than wrapping myself in possum fur. http://www.fibrezone.co.nz/
Sunday, August 24, 2008
The Ferrier Fountain in Victoria Square was looking lovely in yesterday’s late afternoon sun. It was erected in 1972 to mark the opening of the Christchurch Town Hall and was donated by Mr & Mrs C.J. Ferrier. It apparently resembles the El Alemain Fountain in Kings Cross, Sydney and was manufactured by the same designers.
Saturday, August 23, 2008
After prowling around dark car park buildings yesterday, accosting whitebait fishermen on the banks of the Avon River seemed mild and almost decent by comparison. There was a little stumbling embarassment the first time I asked “Do you come here often” – given that I was interviewing for a feature on urban whitebaiters rather than testing my pick-up lines – but we got through that with a coy giggle and moved on to the ins and outs of fishing for these strange, transparent little juvenile fish that are considered by many to be the ultimate delicacy. The whitebait season started last week and while the fishermen aren’t out in their droves yet, I managed to find a few good interview subjects tucked into the weedy cover of the river banks. And like all good fishermen, they came complete with tall stories, fishing yarns and a few good laughs. It was a great way to spend a morning.
Friday, August 22, 2008
I’m beginning to feel a little deviant as I find myself prowling about in dark city car park buildings with my camera – all in the name of art and blogging. And today it paid off because I found another stunning light-box work by Auckland photographic artist, Dieneke Jansen. Her series, “Directing Weeds” is part of the High Street Project Offsite Programme and you’ll find works in a number of city car park buildings. I listed one here last week, entitled 'Where the Grass IS greener." The lushness of the grass is made all the more vibrant and eye-catching by the gloomy confines of the car park buildings.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
I cannot believe that I have walked past this amazing little art space for YEARS without ever noticing it – until today. Shame on me! Is this not a classic example of what I am always ranting against – people never really SEEING their own city? But rest assured, now that I’ve ‘found’ it I will be returning regularly. The Kiosk is the Public Art Site of The Physic Room, and measuring approximately 710mm x 705mm, it lends itself to some fantastic artistic expressions. You can check them out on The Physics Room website…. their photos are better than mine, although, as you know, I am rather attracted to the visual confusion of multiple reflections like these. This work Twig, by Hamish Palmer has an enticing (yet somehow slightly sinister) delicacy, that reminds me of store advertising and billboard graphics – which is probably why I’m so drawn to it. It shows in The Kiosk until August 28 at the busy pedestrian intersection of Manchester, Lichfield and High Streets. www.physicsroom.org.nz
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
This time last week I made a note about an exhibition by Auckland jeweller, Jane Dodd at Christchurch’s inform contemporary jewellery; if you put “A Wild Woods Winter” into the blog search box above left you’ll be able to read it. This is another of Jane’s works – Eagle – and my favourite. It’s not part of her current show but it is thematically aligned. I love the notion of some mystical winged-thing flying about our skies with sparkly jewels in its claws.
"Encasement" Dan Rutherford. The Art House. Christchurch. August 2008. Ajr Landscape designer, Dan Rutherford’s sculpture, “Encasement” is making a bold statement outside The Art House Gallery at the moment. It’s an earthy kind of orb that looks a little as though it may have been spewed out of a volcano.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
(Artist's digital impression of the work)
Courtesy the artist and Gow Langsford Gallery.
Auckland artist, Sara Hughes appears to have a thing about commercial signwriting vinyl – and why not? It’s thin, adhesive, brilliantly-coloured and it lends itself to being applied to a multitude of unexpected surfaces. Take the main staircase of the Christchurch Art Gallery for instance – instantly transformed into a multicoloured work called “United We Fall,” as part of the gallery’s Outer Spaces series. Inspired by her recent United States residency during the Democratic primaries, Hughes has wrapped the stairs and glass barriers in politically-charged colours, “turning the gallery foyer into a cascade of marching, pulsating, saturated colour that questions both the local and global space it occupies.” You can see more of Sara’s interest in pattern, form and optical effects by visiting her website – http://www.sarahughes.co.nz/ In the meantime, I’m going to visit the gallery to see if I can get from bottom to top and down again only stepping on the red bits.
It's snowing in my garden right now.
But it's not half as spectacular as these falls recorded in Tongariro National Park yesterday.
North Island skiers will be rubbing their hands together in delight.