Tag Archives: Christchurch Art Gallery

Indigestion

What to write for this post has been bothering me as much as that vexing, never-ending question of ‘what to have for dinner tonight’. I have all the ingredients, collected during my last excursion into town, but I don’t know what to make of them. I have sorted through several ideas but none of them seems quite right.

I have my lone young magpie,  usually a strange sight in the central city, who makes

me think of ‘country come to town’, or ‘nature reclaiming the spaces we usurped’, though the magpie, like us, is an introduced species. Which all makes me recall the haunting poem by our own Denis Glover,

The Magpies

When Tom and Elizabeth took the farm
The bracken made their bed,
And Quardle oodle ardle wardle doodle
The magpies said.
……..
Elizabeth is dead now (it’s years ago;
Old Tom went light in the head:
And Quardle oodle ardle wardle doodle
The magpies said.

The farm’s still there. Mortgage corporations
Couldn’t give it away.
And Quardle oodle ardle wardle doodle
The magpies say.

 

Then I have The Bull, Chapman’s Homer. Remember  him?  He’s back. He’s been in seclusion for a while but he’s been let out for some fresh air, and to watch over the renovations on his soon-to-be new home; the Christchurch Art Gallery.

Chapman's Homer outside the City Council building

Chapman’s Homer outside the City Council building

Looking towards the Bull's new home

Looking towards the Bull’s future home, the Christchurch Art Gallery

These items present me with ideas of ‘civilization in nature’; and ‘civilization’ itself; ‘what it is and is not’, and ‘the thinness of its veneer’.

And the entirety has me wondering about ‘cultural collaboration and collision’ and ‘what is left standing When a City Falls’ , and, if what is left, provides a big enough foundation to support a new city. The remains look so terribly small in the face of the vastness of the concrete rebuild jungle.

Confused? So am I. But, perhaps, that is just how it is in our city, where we still seem to be searching for the right recipe to put us back together again.

So what is for dinner tonight?

Brace yourselves. It’s not four and twenty magpies baked in a pie, boeuf bourguignon or smoked eel. No,  I have decided on leftover fish and chips, that traditional New Zealand take away, supplemented with homemade buttermilk corn bread,  which mish-mash is bound to bring on culturally confused indigestion ….but, right now, it’s the best I can come up with.

© silkannthreades

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Recorded Time

In my previous post, but one, I mentioned that  Sheri de Grom had nominated me to join the Travel Blog. One of the questions she asked me to consider, in relation to the nomination, was this:

“What am I working on at the moment?”

The short answer to that is, nothing much; except what is coming to life, right now, as my fingers touch the keyboard.

I am, however, reading; reading  memoirs,

Memoirs of Cairo and Christchurch

Memoirs of Cairo and Christchurch

and preparing, in my thoughts and heart, a small post to add to my private, family history blog. Perhaps, in a few days hence, the time will be right to commit thoughts to virtual paper. I hope so, for otherwise I will be in danger of forgetting the stories that came to me whilst I sat with the old ones. As  Kerry reminded us the other day;  ‘Write it down, label your family treasures, be a record keeper. Do it now.’

And it is precisely because some people take serious note of advice such as Kerry’s that I am now enjoying two memoirs, written about vastly different countries, by vastly different authors, but having, in common, all the intricacies, complexity and vibrancy of family and family relationships.

The first memoir is Apricots on the Nile, A Memoir with Recipes, by Colette Rossant.

Apricots on the Nile by Colette Rossant

Apricots on the Nile by Colette Rossant

Colette Rossant’s memoir includes the years she spent, as a child, in the care of her wealthy grandparents and their large extended family, in their mansion in Garden City, Cairo. Although the Egyptian reminiscences relate mainly to the period from  1937 to  1947, the timelessness of Cairo and the equal timelessness of family events  ( deaths, births, weddings, picnics, holidays,  guests, gossip and weddings ) meant that my own experience of Cairo life, in the late 1990s, came flowing through me, again, deep and rich as the Nile itself.

Closer to home, is the memoir Eventful Years, by Sir Ernest Andrews, my great great uncle.

Eventful Years by Sir Ernest Andrews

Eventful Years by Sir Ernest Andrews

Sir Ernest, or Uncle Ernie, as my mother called him, was a Christchurch City Councillor for thirty-two years, and nine of those years he served as Mayor of Christchurch. He began his Council service in 1918 and retired in 1950. During his time in local politics, he witnessed the 1918 Flu Epidemic, the Great Depression, the 1931 Napier Earthquake, the Second World War and the Ballantynes’ fire . Eventful Years covers all these events and more, but what is not specifically mentioned is that, during his tenure as Mayor, he lived  in his daughter and son-in-law’s modest, two bedroom home, with their four children and my mother. Quite a houseful! But my mother loved living in that vibrant,  occasionally  rambunctious, household of young and not so young; helping with the little ones whilst their mother acted as Mayoress for the widowed Sir Ernest.   My mother was still living there when she married; her wedding photos were taken in the beautiful garden of that compact home,

My mother in her happy place.

My mother in her happy place.

her wedding reception was held there, and, even after her marriage, she returned to stay with the family, until my father’s family moved to Christchurch, and she was able to move in  with her husband and her in-laws.  Thus it was in Christchurch in those years. Though very much smaller in scale and wealth, not so very different to a similar period in a large, lively family in Cairo, at least as far as familial ties, and caring and sharing,  were concerned. ( I doubt, however, that my staunch Methodist relatives indulged in poker parties as  the Palacci family  did! 🙂 ).

“So, as I end this stage of the family history, sketchy as of necessity it has had to be, I again place on record what I owe to a long list of brave and honourable forbears, and especially to the example and influence of a good father and a gracious mother.” (Eventful Years, Chapter X )

I would also place on record that the last time I looked, more than a year ago, this special house in our family history was still standing but it was in an area badly affected by the 2010/2011 earthquakes.  I do not know if it remains today.

And, in case you are wondering, this is not the story I am planning for my family history blog. I have quite another in mind. This one is at the periphery of that one to come.

And, again, in case you are wondering why I removed the dust jackets of the memoirs, it is to acknowledge the importance of recording the outer and the inner, the cover and the contents, as can be seen in  The Art of the Dust Jacket;  the latest exhibition organised by our City Council funded Art Gallery in our City Council funded Central Library. ( Can I hear Uncle Ernie’s approval of these initiatives? He was not only a councillor but a  writer, an educator, a printer and a publisher.)

Finally,  for not much reason at all….save that  it is lovely, and is the result of our City Council’s long-standing support of public gardens… a  winter camellia at Mona Vale.

Like a wedding dress; a camellia at Mona Vale, another of my mother's happy places.

Like a wedding dress; a camellia at Mona Vale, another of my mother’s happy places.

© silkannthreades


Creative Interlude or a City at Play

Now that I have my wheels, and passengers, ready for the road, it’s time to resume my gallivanting; first of all with a look in the rear view mirror, so you can see some of the jaunts I took during my 17 day blogcation.

Looking back…..

In the midst of my not very busy holiday schedule, on a not very nice weather day, my friends and I had a short interlude in the centre of Christchurch; short because interludes usually are, but, also, because it was a beastly cold day, not suited to our yet to adjust, lingering-in-summer, bodies.

Cold, as it was, and we were, we did see a little of the fun side of  the city. Here is my record of the day.

The Chalice, our millennium statue, sometimes referred to as the ice cream cone.

Art work wrapping around the ruins.

 

Portrait let out to play, from the Art Gallery.

Rita Angus's Portrait of O'Donnell Moffett http://christchurchartgallery.org.nz/bulletin/175/quiet-invasion/

Rita Angus’s Portrait of O’Donnell Moffett Quiet Invasion

Rise Ballerina

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Is She amused by events?

The Queen crowned with a bicycle helmet

The Queen crowned with a bicycle helmet

Pretty tiles replicated and replaced on New Regent Street.

Oh, it is a  lovely playground we have in our city.

A scaled down braided river at the Nature Play Park

A scaled down braided river at the Nature Play Park

This post was prompted by Sally at http://lensandpensbysally.wordpress.com/  who alerted me to a New York Times article http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/06/travel/after-earthquakes-a-creative-rebirth-in-christchurch.html  ,published on April 6th, about the creative rebirth of Christchurch, post earthquakes. It is an excellent article. Thank you Sally. I only wish you had been with me to focus your camera on the intriguing sights we saw, on our city excursion, at the beginning of April.

© silkannthreades

Cometh the hour, cometh the horse….

To celebrate the Year of the Horse, the National Gallery, London, has posted “Whistlejacket” by George Stubbs, as its  Painting of the Month.

Whistlejacket, George Stubbs, about 1762

Whistlejacket, George Stubbs, about 1762

The National Gallery also has a  Chinese Zodiac Trail which explores the symbolism of animals in eastern and western traditions.

According to the Gallery’s zodiac trail, the horse is one of the most admired animals of the  Chinese zodiac. People born in the Year of the Horse are independent, value freedom, and are hard-working, adventurous, intelligent and successful. They embody the traits of a fellow creature who has accompanied us to the end of the world and, sometimes, back again…..

like Phar Lap

Phar Lap at Trentham Racecourse. Making New Zealand :Negatives and prints from the Making New Zealand Centennial collection. Ref: MNZ-2372-1/2-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23120509

Phar Lap at Trentham Racecourse. Making New Zealand :Negatives and prints from the Making New Zealand Centennial collection. Ref: MNZ-2372-1/2-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23120509

This photo was taken in 1931 before Phar Lap’s  trip to the United States. Not long after this date, Phar Lap died  in San Francisco. He is probably New Zealand’s most famous racehorse, renowned for his great heart and his speed and, of course, the winnings and joy he brought to many people, during the gloomy days of the Great Depression. Timaru, his birthplace, has an outstanding memorial sculpture  of Phar Lap.

Another famous New Zealand horse, perhaps less well-known than Phar Lap, is Bess (Zelma)  . New Zealand sent  thousands of horses to the First World War. Only four returned home. Bess was one of  the four. She was born in 1910, and served in Egypt in 1915, Sinai in 1916, Palestine in 1917, France in 1918, Germany in 1919, and was in England in 1920, before coming home to New Zealand in July 1920. She died , on duty, in October 1934.

This is the simple, but eloquent, memorial to Bess. It bears an Arabic inscription, as well as one in English.

Jock Phillips and Chris Maclean (top image, c. 1986), Powles collection; Imelda Bargas and Tim Shoebridge, 2010

Bess Memorial; Credit Jock Phillips and Chris Maclean (top image, c. 1986), Powles collection; Imelda Bargas and Tim Shoebridge, 2010

As part of New Zealand’s commemoration of the start of World War One, in 1914,  a hundred years ago , there will be a special Anzac Day service at the Bess Memorial, on
April 25 2014, 9 a.m. Forest Road (Off Parewanui Road), Bulls.

The service will honour Bess, and all the horses that didn’t come home, to their New Zealand pastures.  In addition, “The Friends of Bess are hoping to publish an information book on Bess for WW100, and to improve the Memorial to Bess site for better public access and protection from the elements if funding can be obtained.”

I like that, in the Year of the Horse, we have this special tribute taking place in honour of  the horses who travelled, with their human companions, on what must have been one of the strangest, and most terrible, adventures of their lives. The Good Steed   by Marcus Wilson tells the tale of the New Zealand Military Horse, from the angle of the horse, in The Anglo-Boer War and World War One. It is a story worth telling; worth remembering.

Another story which honours the nature of the horse, and looks at the world from the horse’s point of view,  is  Black Beauty by Anna Sewell. Though written in 1877, it remains one of the best-selling books of all time. The 1915 edition of Black Beauty was illustrated by the artist  Lucy Kemp-Welch.  Lucy Kemp-Welch  painted horses in both peace-time and  in war-time. One of her horses-in-war paintings  Big Guns to the Front is displayed at the National Museum in Wales.

I can’t find an online image of that painting but, at our own Christchurch Art Gallery, there is a wonderful selection of artwork, featuring horses, collated for the Chinese New Year.     My favourite painting , in the collection, is one by Lucy Kemp-Welch, titled In the Orchard [Sunlight Through the Leaves] 1904-1905, which was acquired by the Art Gallery in 1932.

http://christchurchartgallery.org.nz/collection/objects/69-564/

http://christchurchartgallery.org.nz/collection/objects/69-564/ In the Orchard, Lucy Kemp-Welch 1904-1905

To me, this scene of mother and foal represents the apogee of the loving, loyal, peaceful,  feminine side of the horse.

How lucky we have been to have these beautiful creatures at our side, throughout history. Long may our shared story continue but, hopefully, with more love and understanding  on our part.  An understanding that, if we  develop greater empathy with our equine family , we will be better humans.

May you have a Happy, Successful, Year of the Horse.

If you would like to seek, or refresh, your inner horse, take a look at Cindy Knoke’s blog and her gorgeous post on the Free Range Horses of Patagonia  The spirit of the Year of the Horse is bound to soar within you when you see Cindy’s photos.

© silkannthreades

We did it…. the Bull is here to stay :)

Towards the end of last month, I wrote a  post   on a fundraising effort called ‘Back the Bull’. It was organised by the Christchurch Art Gallery Trust with the aim of raising $NZ 200,000 towards the cost of purchasing this glorious creature, “Chapman’s Homer”, for our city.

Chapman's Homer

Chapman’s Homer

I was ever so pleased ( as in, dance-around-the-room-and-shout-with -glee-pleased )  to read in this morning’s newspaper that the ‘Back the Bull’ campaign achieved its target last night.

This means the Bull is here to stay!!

The Bull, Chapman’s Homer, was on display (on loan) during the fundraising but is now in storage. Eventually the 1.8 tonne sculpture will have a permanent home on the forecourt of the Christchurch Art Gallery. That will be in  2015 when the earthquake repair and strengthening work on the Gallery is completed and it is once again open to the public. In the meantime, the sculpture will be displayed from time to time at yet to be determined sites in Christchurch.

I am very glad that the campaign was a success because it shows that, if we put our hearts into working together, we can do wonders for our broken city.  This was yet another positive action to counteract the negativity and arguing and crankiness that seems to jaywalk, unhelpfully, through the city’s new design and rebuild plans.

© silkannthreades