Sunday, November 30, 2008
It’s just as well I LIKE candid photography snapped from moving car windows because that’s all I got a chance for when I was driven south (by a speedy driver in a hurry) last week. As we went through Timaru (2 hours south of Christchurch), I managed to get these delightfully ‘vague’ shots of one of my favourite churches – The Church of the Sacred Heart. This Basilica is part of a cluster of Catholic Church buildings on a large site in the centre of Timaru. It was designed by the very busy architect, F.W. Petre (1847-1918), who designed a swathe of stunning churches all over the South Island, including the gorgeous Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament in Christchurch, which I have featured here several times before. The top image here is also his design – the very pretty St Patrick’s Basilica in Waimate, which was built 1908-09. It’s three tower bells were cast in Belgium (I hope you’re reading this Hermione) and the largest weighs three-quarters of a ton. Petre was New Zealand’s most significant Neo-Classical architect and he’s also renowned for his design of the Wellington Sacred Heart Cathedral (1901); St Patrick’s in Oamaru (1894); St Patrick’s Dunedin; St Mary’s Basilica, Invercargill (1905) and the Catholic Church in Gore (1914). To see the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament in Christchurch, click on the name (or Churches) in the label line below this post.
When I first arrived in the South Island eighteen years ago and saw this yellow shed, just south of the highway turnoff to Waimate, I thought it was a joke - that wallabies could be found there I mean. But it's true - these funny little Australian kangaroo relatives have established quite a colony in the Waimate area. I've never actually seen one for myself and even today there is still a remnant of suspicion that it's all a big myth, but who am I to argue? Meanwhile, this must be one of the most photographed sheds in New Zealand.
Saturday, November 29, 2008
I visited a stunning garden this morning - a small miracle of colour, texture, colour and fragrance that I could happily adopt as my own. I can't give you the where and the who because I'm writing about the garden for a magazine, but I do just want to share this amazing poppy centre with stamens so perfect. I'm always slightly overwhelmed when my tiny little Panasonic Lumix delivers such unexpectedly lovely photographs - so naturally I take fifty shots when one would have been sufficient!
November is a perfect time in Canterbury.
The skies are blue, the temperatures hot (mostly) and leaves are newly minted in a million shades of green. I thought that this morning when I drove out into the country again - this time to Taitapu, a rural area (with nearby township) about 35 minutes from central Christchurch. I love this area. It's how I image some of the English countryside might look - rolling green fields, narrow roads with wide grassy verges, big hawthorn hedges.......and nothing but the birds and the cows.
The Waihao Marae sits in a field on a quiet gravel road south of Waimate.
It's just two kilometres from a dramatic stony coastline (see whitebaiters below), where locals gather the sea's rich bounty. It doubles as the local community War Memorial Hall - for both Maori and Pakeha. This is the back interior wall, where old photos of war time soldiers are displayed along with two traditional piupiu (skirts)
A few weeks ago, I drove south to the little town of Temuka. Just south of there is the Arowhenua Marae. This is it - a very cute building that overlooks a swampy landscape.
The South Island's Ngai Tahu iwi (tribe) has eighteen runanga, which operate from individual marae. I have just three left to visit. www.ngaitahu.iwi.nz
I've never quite understood what all the fuss is about when it comes to whitebait. I always find these tiny, transluscent slithers of fish a complete disappointment. However, after watching a big group of whitebaiters at work at the mouth of the Waihao River, south of Waimate two days ago, I think it might be more about the act of gathering than any spectacular taste. I can relate to that and certainly, spending a day in this wild, windswept coastal environment must be invigorating indeed.
Friday, November 28, 2008
Kai is the Maori word for food; Ngai Tahu is the major South Island Maori tribe (iwi). Put the two together and you come up with Jason Dell, Ngai Tahu executive chef at Blanket Bay, who yesterday whipped up a culinary treat for us at Waihao Marae, south-east of Waimate, three hours south of Christchurch. Using the traditional foods of marae –eel (tuna), flounder (patiki), yellow-eyed mullet (aua) and sea-run trout – Jason prepared a lavish lunch for the marae kaumatua (elders). We started with tomato soup with Waldorf salad and eel (top left and bottom right); then raised our forks for sea-run trout set on a polenta cake and lobster ravioli (top right); finishing with fresh bread, baked flounder and baked mullet stuffed with pickled mussels, tomato and an assortment of herbs (bottom left). Not a bad way to spend a sunny day in the south. For more information on Jason Dell put Meet the People - 4 into the blog search box above left. www.ngaitahu.iwi.nz
Christchurch's tallest building is....well....getting taller....slowly.
Here's the C1 Tower creeping ever-skyward
above the quaint architectural charms of historic New Regent Street.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
This is where I have been for much of today - at the Waihao Marae and Waihao River Mouth, about three hours south of Christchurch. It was all in the name of work - another kai (food) feature for Ngai Tahu's Te Karaka magazine......This time a look at the abundant of kaimoana (seafood) found in these parts. After lunch at the marae, cooked by Ngai Tahu chef, Jason Dell, who works as executive chef at Blanket Bay, near Queenstown, we headed for the river mouth to check out the whitebaiters. They were working hard in dangerous seas but it appeared to be worth it. They had bucket-loads of these little fishy delicacies.
Every time I start thinking I've seen everything in Christchurch, I discover some other visual treat - in this case an elegant inner city staircase that I would have walked right past had I not looked to the left.
I rather like the idea of shiny plants growing out of old sardine tins – especially when viewed on a poster on a city bus stop. There’s something almost comedic about that, that has insured I WILL get along to Fiona Hall’s “Force Field”, now showing at Christchurch Art Gallery. Not that this well-known Australian artist intends too much comedy – not if you believe the reviews anyway. Her work sounds beautiful/strange/enticing – a collection of ‘specimens in glass cases,’ a gathering of discarded objects (old cans, beads, skulls etc) – that make me think of evolution gone haywire. It’s just a pity that Damien Hirst has already had so much mileage out of the ‘bejewelled’ skull idea…… not that I’m pre-judging an entire show – and a huge show at that by all accounts – on the strength of one work. I'm prepared to 'wait and see.'
As the late Canadian pianist, Glenn Gould’s fingers “fluttered, meandered and scurried across the black and white keys, emerging from the instrument like a story being narrated, just to him, for the very first time,” so too, have Christchurch printmaker, Barry Cleavin’s fingers scampered and darted across zinc etching plates, re-interpreting Gould’s musical creations as ‘tiny visual filaments of sound.’ It was always going to be a big ask, for surely it is impossible to represent sound in visual markings? But Cleavin is passionate about music – about Bach and the work of Glenn Gould. He listens to both as he works in his Christchurch studio and in his current exhibition at Papergraphica, he shows the etchings and aquatints that were inspired by “Extasis, Life and Times” and “The Russian Journey,” two DVDs that show archival footage of Glenn Gould playing, recording and being interviewed. There is a beguiling intimacy about Cleavin’s visual responses – layer upon layer of observation. I especially like the fact that he has included two of the original zinc plates that allude to the evolution of the colour-ways and overlays – and, best of all, act as a reflective mirror for the completed works in colour that hang in Papergraphica for another week. www.papergraphica.co.nz
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Another in the Series Meet the People – Ordinary and Extraordinary New Zealanders Doing Interesting Things – James and Glenice White live in the very gorgeous and historic, Birch Hill homestead, which nestles into the foothills of Mt Thomas, in North Canterbury. Designed by architect, Samuel Hurst Seager and built in 1908, it sits in acres of sweeping lawns and gardens, making it a perfect retreat – which is why the Whites are starting a new venture – the Birch Hill Art Retreat. Starting in March 2009 with an exclusive 10-day painting and sculpture retreat, with accommodation provided at both Birch Hill and nearby Okuku Country Estate (which I featured here earlier this year), the workshops will be run in the new art studio James has built on the site of the homestead’s original blacksmith’s workshop. Well known UK artist, Vince Tutton and South Canterbury artists, Eddie Cook and Judeen McFetrich will tutor the classes and share their experiences of workshops in Spain, Italy and France. James and Glenice also plan to host a series of two-day introductory sculpture and painting courses with lunch provided. As art collectors themselves, the Whites are keen to encourage others and to share the beauty of their historic country property. www.birchhill.co.nz For others in this series, click on Meet the People in the label line below this post.
I love this whimsical sculpture - three bronze businessmen - on the corner of Collins and Swanson Streets in Central Melbourne. I can't help with the name of the artist, or the work, unfortunately. If anyone else can, you know what to do....leave a comment.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Call me spoilt if you will but I do love my job as a travel guide author and journalist – and the fact that I get to stay in New Zealand’s finest accommodation. I recently had the good fortune to be holed up here, at Nelson’s classy Consulate Apartments. They’re just across the grassy hill that’s home to Nelson Cathedral and therefore, right in the centre of town. Not that I ever care about what’s happening in the outside world once I am ensconced in a place like this. They’ve got three BIG elegant apartments, each with a different character – the largest even has a grand piano if you feel like tinkling the ivories – and best of all, they feel just like home. I know everyone says that but in this case, it’s true. www.consulateapartments.co.nz
Nov 2008 Ajr
Your guess is as good as mine.
The powers that be in Melbourne have an annoying habit of not naming or attributing their public sculptures.
I admit it - I'm just a tiny bit fixated on these small cars - the Smart Car and the Escargot - at least the ones that have been decorated as mobile advertisements for assorted companies. You can see others I've photographed by clicking on Cute Cars in the label line below this post.
Monday, November 24, 2008
I was wandering aimlessly in the city this afternoon and, faced with a proliferation of Christmas tinsel, I set myself the challenge of finding a well designed Christmas retail display. I've yet to find anything BUT I did stumble upon this monstrosity! It gives that great old Kiwi saying 'Ladies a plate please' a whole new meaning doesn't it. Clearly the product of an over-excited window-dresser who never knew when to stop - the pearls being the ultimate atrocity.
I'm always on the lookout for those tantalising 'spaces between.'
Those long, thin, spaces between buildings that allude to things beyond.
This one came complete with a wonderful 'boxed set' of colourful reflections.
For others in the series click on Spaces Between in the label line below.
There’s not a lot to say about a series of coloured boxes scattered around Melbourne’s Federation Square cultural complex – other than: this is “Untitled 2008” by Sydney artist John Nixon. His nine enamel-painted plywood boxes – finalists in the 2008 Melbourne Prize for Urban Sculpture – are a bright accent in quiet corners.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
It's early summer and garden story time.
And I'm in hedge heaven!
Every garden I've visited in the last few weeks
Has had not one but several hedges.
To see more of my HEDGE HISTORY click on
in the label line below
Woodend Catholic Church, Victoria, Australia. Nov. 2008 Ajr I wonder why churches are always in the best spot in any town - invariably on a hill, or a rise, on prime real estate. I guess they had the money and the community backing. St Ambrose Catholic Church in Woodend, an hour north of Melbourne is no exception. This hefty brick ediface looks over the little township with an unquestionable authority. The Catholic school is right next door.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
As a seasoned people-watcher I love a good crowd.
You're guaranteed of a good crowd when you hang out around Flinders Street Station and Federation Square in Melbourne. Flinders Street Station is the busiest suburban railway station in the Southern Hemisphere with more than 10,300 passenger-carrying train services operating to and from the station each week. That's about 110,000 people traipsing through every day so you're assured of interesting foot traffic.