Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Queenslanders at Play

When I visited Port Douglas in September, I really enjoyed wandering about with my camera, shooting whatever image took my fancy. Amid all the lush, tropical landscapes there are a few people - Queenslanders at rest, at work, at play. Here's a short photographic amble through a day.
Mossman - The morning paper.

The Port Douglas Sunday markets
Afloat 1
Afloat II
At home at the caravan park.
Show boys
Basking on a luxury yacht
Looking on at the Cozzie Club

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Christchurch on the Bright Side - Four Photos

A Rose on a Basilica fence

Local hero writ large on a broken wall.

Latimer Square park bench cast adrift in long, overgrown grass.

The bent spire of the Victoria Street clocktower rising above wild flowers on a now-vacant Victoria Street lot.

Barry's Provocative Unpublished Minutes - 146

"Track Pack."
This week's addition to the ongoing series of prints from one of New Zealand's leading printmakers, Barry Cleavin. To see others in the series, click on Cleavin in the index line below.

Monday, November 28, 2011

A Head Start on History

As I walked around Christchurch's Cathedral Square yesterday, I thought about how I was watching history unfold before me. I've thought about that a lot in the last fifteen months since the first earthquake struck the city in September 2010. I've fretted some days, about the vast swathes of the inner city that I have never photographed - gone now, just little pockets of remembering buried under a pile of already-forgotten buildings. But where to begin? Is it even possible to catalogue a whole city in crisis?
I could give up but most days I feel compelled to record some of what is happening to the changing face of Christchurch. Who knows where my thousands of photos will end up? Maybe they'll be discarded after I've gone, maybe they'll be stuffed away somewhere, like millions of other images of this broken place. It matters not ultimately. For now I am happy trying to make sense of it all via a camera lens. And some days, like today, I like to get a head start on history, giving some of my images 'the gloss of age' ahead of their time.

"History never looks like history when you're living through it. It always looks confusing and messy, and it always feels uncomfortable." John W Gardner. " No Easy Victories."

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Another Earthquake Photo Roundup

We've never been entirely thrilled about Portaloos in Christchurch - except for during that period immediately after the major earthquakes when the sewerage system was out of action and we couldn't use our toilets - but now that summer is here and the trees are in leaf, those that remain in the worst-hit areas of town, look almost decorative.
The sad truth is though, that they're servicing areas of town that have had the stuffing completely knocked out of them - areas that in many cases, have been abandoned, areas where the gardens are overgrown and the houses are boarded up awaiting demolition. And news this morning that the demolition of whole suburbs will begin in February. These two shots above, taken in Avonside, beside the river.
Meanwhile, in central city the demolition continues.
The metal jaws here, chewing up what remained of the Copthorne Durham Hotel.
And here, a huge crane being erected for the ongoing demolition of an apartment block in Cashel Street.
The pretty green lych gate all that remains standing on the grounds of the once large and impressive, Victorian Gothic Holy Trinity Avonside Church.
And sad little gatherings of broken church tiles amid broken brick remains.
A dainty glass light fitting, swinging idly in the shattered remains of the Catholic Basilica.
And the broken body of the Basilica propped up with dozens of stacked shipping containers.
Shipping containers supporting the front of the Catholic Basilica.
With giant cranes on stand-by, ready for the heavy duty deconstruction of dangerous Basilica masonry.
A poignant note at the CTV site. Small but powerful.
The top floors of the Crowne Plaza hotel - giving a whole new meaning to the term split-level.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Pen-y-bryn - A Southern Beauty

I’m a sucker for old homesteads and when I first encountered Pen-y-Bryn, in Oamaru back in the late 90s, it stayed with me. It was a B&B then. Now it’s upscaled somewhat and under the ownership of James Glucksman (above left) and James Boussy (above right) (aka ‘the Jameses’), it’s become a beautiful heritage retreat where you can sink back into the Victorian comforts of this Category 1 listed beauty.
As you can see from the above aerial image, it’s no small cottage. In fact, it’s one of the largest single storied homes in the South Island and with a massive 9,000 square feet in the main buildings, there’s plenty of room to hide away in a quiet, restful corner. The home was built in 1889 for one John Bulleid (1851-1910) and was designed by the firm of Forrester & Lemon. Pen-y-bryn is Welsh for ‘top of the hill’ and the homestead sits above the town of Oamaru with excellent views of the town, ocean and mountains.
It’s had just five owners in its life. After John Bulleid died, his wife, Fanny moved out and John’s son, John Maurice took over. He spent a lot of time redesigning things and making additions before selling to James McDiarmid, the Mayor of Oamaru in 1922. He and his family were in residence for 73 years before it was sold and refurbished as a lodge in the 1990w. The current owners, the two Jameses, bought it in 2010 and have revamped it into elegant lodge accommodation for ten people. Born in the United States, both have lived and travelled all over the world.
James Glucksman had a career in international management consulting and healthcare for more than 20 years, living and working in more than 40 countries. He’s fluent in Russian and Chinese and has a good working knowledge of French, Spanish and German, as well as “some limited Japanese and Hungarian.” All handy in Oamaru I’m sure! :-) James Boussy meanwhile, trained as a dentist and practised in United States for 15 years before moving his practice to Beijing. They’re both passionate about food and wine and you’re guaranteed amazing meals at Pen-y-bryn.
As big as it is, the house has retained a lovely sense of ‘family home’ and it retains many of its original features including leadlight glass panels,  an original 1888 china cabinet, Italian chandeliers bought by the Bulleid family during their European travels, ornate carved furniture and paintings.  The suspended plaster ceiling in the dining room was commissioned by John Bulleid in Florence and shipped to Oamaru in wooden crates.
It also has a large billiard room featuring a billiard table that was built in 1915 for the New Zealand Government. On receipt of three tables ordered for parliament, it was found only two would fit, thus the third table was purchased by James McDiarmid and installed at Pen-y-bryn.

The stained glass windows above the west windows are copies of the windows in the English home of Alfred Lord Tennyson. The homestead has numerous other fascinating historical stories and features – including the fact that the gardens were originally designed by renowned colonial landscaper, Alfred Buxton – but by far the best way to appreciate them, is to visit, stay and discover them for yourself.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Barry's Provocative Unpublished Minutes - 145

We've had a bit of a break from our Barry Cleavin print series, but today we're kicking off again. For others in this now long, ongoing series, click on Cleavin in the index line below this post.

Monday, November 21, 2011

A New Heart

Some weeks ago, like 20,000 other Cantabrians, I went into Cashel Mall - or what had been Cashel Mall, to check out the new Re-Start Project - a temporary central shopping mall of 27 stores located in shipping containers, designed to give city residents a central shopping zone post-earthquakes.
Expecting crowds, I had avoided the place for the first few days.When I finally went in to visit, I held my breath, not knowing what to expect.

I was pleasantly surprised - delighted almost - by the colour and composition of this temporary shopping zone. Not as much hospitality (ie cafes, bars) as I expected and hoped for but very well done nonetheless.
Bold shapes, bold colours, bold combinations.And a bold choice of stores. I'm not sure they'll all do well in terms of retail turnover but in the lead-up to Christmas and in face of enormous curiosity about inner city Christchurch, they should make enough to pay the rent. Long term, I think some of the more upmarket stores may struggle 
But let's be honest, after major earthquakes and more than 8,000 aftershocks over 15 months, Christchurch residents need somewhere bright and cheerful. Whether or not they head into Re-Start to buy high-end shoes and designer clothes or just a cup of coffee, becomes a little irrelevant. It's just nice to have a break from all the grey, all the demoltion and ruin and all the dust and filth.
I sat there for some time enjoying that colour and the juxtaposition of shapes, the sitting of the new in front of the old, the scarred backs of remaining buildings acting as a backdrop to Re-Start's innovative design. I like the materials too. Anyone who has read this blog regularly over the last few years will know I have a bit of a thing for unusual materials - corrugated iron for instance; and the use of shipping containers in post-quake Christchurch is nothing short of brilliant. I'm enjoying seeing them propped up both as giant barricades and as supports to faltering facades. I like the way they've been adapted for other temporary uses on now vacant lots - as cafes, dairies and temporary stores and warehouses. And I especially like the way they've been brushed bright at Re-Start.
Because at the end of the day, I'm sick of piles of rubble.I'm tired of seeing yet another building crumble.I'm (almost) bored by diggers, cranes and lorries.I'm sick of dust and dirt and grey liquefaction seeping into everything.It's nice to be able to sit awhile in Re-Start and pretend that this - the waiting tractors and lorries, the cranes and the piles of rubble - aren't waiting just a few paces around the corner!


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