Friday, January 25, 2008

Garden, Visual Journal and my favourite poet

I've been working further on my large oil painting, but not ready to post further pictures as yet. The weather is great, we've had rain finally and the garden is growing. There is a little garden area in front of the older part of the house (miner's cottage built about a hundred years ago, and the rest of the house was added onto in the sixties and then the seventies). There are five acres behind the house but this little piece, although it's close to the road, has a feeling of seclusion and privacy and wasn't used very much so I decided I wanted a vegetable garden there. Behind the vegetable garden is a very old Rasperry Ice rose that is coming to the end of it's flowering, and behind that again a South African begonia type shrub that has just started.

I was working in a visual diary for another artist and here are some photos of what I've done so far. She asked for words - particularly words that uplift or inspire. The first one is "a journey of a thousand miles starts with one step", and the facing page has imagery from more than 3000 years ago (The White Lady of Aouanrhet). The other was created after reading some of Joseph Campbell's work. He talks about "aum", you might know this as "om", he said "the meaning is wordless". I like that idea, that meaning can be wordless. And there's another quote from Campbell - "words are always qualifications and limitations". On the opposite page there's an image of Buddha in meditation, it's a Tibetan tanka painting about intense contemplation leading one's prana to take shape as radiating ripples of air. I've used art papers, paint and ink with the collaged imagery. I've chosen some images to create the next spread, I'll put up a shot of the finished work when it's done - each artist has completed three in the journal and when I've finished my last spread the journal is returning home to it's owner.

And finally, in this post, I'm going to share some of Hone Tuwhare's poetry. I have several of his books, and been rereading them, and drawing ideas in a journal thinking I might do some paintings about him. The first one is in the book "Ooooooo!!!" published 2005 and, as I've said before, Hone wrote earthy poems.

"If I should die, think nothing (nihil) of it. Happens naturally to all.

To my deaf ear, I raise
the Wrist to which
my watch is strapped
just barely noting
the tiniest intervals
between the tick and
tock of it, inexorably
paging - unemotionally
and without the least
evidence of compassionate
interest the leaching, leaking
moments between your
arrival, and final nod-off
& ... goodbyes - of your
departure time:
One last emptying of the bowel
and piss-bag: tick-tick.
tock, hands off cock -
er ... tick ... tick ... tick.
O'excelsior! Full marks!
Mayhap, your great, great
grandnephews, nieces, will inherit
your wrist-watch
& reclaim, the rhythm
the 4/4 Boogie beat of your heart.
For, on their tiny feet you march."

From "Piggy-back Moon" (published 2002 following Hone's appointment as Te Mata Poet Laureate in 1999).

"For Linda

Well, really,
when I think of your utter
absorption in your work, I am
entranced by the flow of your
silken thighs (the hemline
of your skirt is just fine) -
as you sit down to write out
my prescription for Zestril,
making my heart loop and pump mis-timingly! my
eye-sight, you confirm, is
okay. I pull my sleeve down
and shrug into my jacket.

I think of you warmly, if not
swarmingly - and feeling, like
I am a yellow, zebra-striped
bumble-bee, just thoughtfully
if not diagnostically nosing
the flower-heads of
prim daisies, edging my
lawns, and waking them
newly, to the infectiously
courtly kisses of a leisurely
but discriminatingly (pickie)
nectar-gatherer. I'm heartstruck
with love, Linda. It's my
trade ... "

There are so many poems I'd love to share but I'll just type out one more and hope that people continue to read his writing. He was and is a delight.
From Shape-Shifter published 1997:

"Wry Song

O may the texture
and fissured lines in
stone temper my life-style
to another self, enduring:
less faceless.

For in the tumult of my
separate hells, pummelled
I have been beyond shine or

And if I should never know
delight again, or shut my
ears to coarse banalities
of sea and storm

then let my poems rock
to a dark sea's roll:
as the
stricken moon."

Friday, January 18, 2008

Hone Tuwhare

Hone Tuwhare died this week, he is my favourite poet, a most amazing man who wrote gorgeous, earthy, clever poetry.

Here is a short bio with a link to his poem Rain. And another link.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Blue Guitarist oil painting

This is a real departure for me. Painting very large, in oils. It's based on a photograph I took of a musician (the photograph is one of the flickr slideshow showing on this blog). I'm streamlining him somewhat - changed the baggy jeans to tight ones. Changed his stance a little which has got me into trouble with the guitar but I'll get there in the end. So far I've stretched and gesso'ed the canvas, roughly drawn in my composition, and laid down thin layers of acrylic underpainting, and begun the layers of oil paint which I've never used before. I want it to be more abstract, but as usual I fiddle around and end up on a path to a realistic image while I'm laying in the building blocks of the painting. I need to leave the details alone for the moment. Once I've got the basic thing painted in oils, I'll see what I can do to jazz it up. The guitarist was standing in front of a large screen with music videos running silently and I caught this one with the female face floating there. The photographs I took that night were out of focus because I didn't want to use a flash - no atmosphere - and long exposure without a tripod and with the movement of the guitarist as he played doesn't make for a good clear photo But I liked some of the shots I got, especially this one, and with a friend offering the use of his studio for a week and having the space to paint big, thought I'd have a go at something different from my usual work. It's a brave thing I do posting a work in progress but it creates some pressure to continue to work on it.

Monday, January 07, 2008


A while ago I think I posted a shot of a mural here in Waihi. I had helped a little with the drawing up of it. Well, here's a progress photo. The artist is John Mulvay. I've posted one shot that shows the Cornish Pumphouse, in the distance, that cost millions to move. The mural is in the centre of our little town, the models for the figures are local residents, the street and other details from photographs of Waihi in the early 1900's. The open cast gold mine is just behind the shops shown. A few months ago there was some kind of "accident" with the blasting and rocks fell on nearby buildings, including the Video Ezy store which is further up (the sliver of light blue in front of the dark green tree). Isn't that amazing? And now the mining company wants to extend their licence to mine the east and west walls of the open pit even further, although previous consents have declared open cast mining would not continue. Open cast mining is not permitted in residential areas, however it is my understanding that the mining company would need to, if they decide to continue with this plan, apply for a change of zoning for some of the land they would want to take. Not only that, but apparently the district council would have to change their District Plan to permit this further mining. Means moving the local primary school and the main road to the local high school. We might even lose our quick access to town and have to drive around these extensions. Open cast mining was supposed to stop some time ago. All these laws and consents seem to mean nothing when a company can simply get them changed. I thought the job of the council was to work for all ratepayers, work to improve the lives of all residents. Seems our Council is keeping it's head down - we certainly haven't heard anything at all from them in any public way such as interviews or articles in the newspaper, and I know lots of people have written and phoned the Council to protest the idea of further open cast mining.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

First day of 2008

And another year begins. Our art sale / exhibition opened yesterday morning and we had a steady stream of people through - the population of Waihi Beach increases almost ten fold in the summer holiday. This is a photo of the venue, taken from the gate as people enter the yard. It's a marquee and we have a lot of work in there, and around the entrance. I was lucky enough to get the area at the entrance of the marquee. Was rostered on for the morning yesterday, and the paintings that we selling were mainly landscapes of the local seaview. Unfortunately I don't paint those! It's an interesting point of discussion. Some artists I've met have found that repeating something that is popular and sells isn't satisfying, their heart isn't in it. But if you want to earn a living at your art you need to sell. It's something I'm going to have a good think about this year.

New Years Eve started out at the Waitete Orchard Restaurant where Brian Shone was playing the guitar and singing - excellent singer and guitarist. Then went to friends where music was being played. (The boys are playing on the 13th January at the Waihi Summer Festival so I guess it could be regarded as practice...) At midnight we went to visit some friends to wish them a Happy New Year then went back to the music.

Waihi is very busy at this time of year. With a regular population of around 4000, the traffic and people in town increase incredibly for a couple of weeks over the holiday period. There's quite a lot to do and see at this time.

All the best to everyone for 2008.