Thursday, July 9, 2015

Some of my favourite things

Still special to me -painted in 1967
Auckland villa Robin White
A year or so ago I visited an art exhibition which included a power point show visiting the artists London home which cleverly took viewers for a walk through his house featuring some of the artists favourite things.

Feeling a bit guilty about the lack of action on my art blog I have decided to pick out  some of my own favourite things.

Mint cutter

The print of a villa by Robin White reminds me of our family home in Waverley. Villas were often built with no effort to gain the sun - quite the opposite as sun tended to fade curtains Often villas had a front room used only for  special guests. I must have bought this print in the 60s.

A kitchen utensil used by my mother to make mint sauce. I also have a heavy cast iron frying pans which is brilliant for cooking steak. The other object I also have is a large slab of marble my mother used for making scones. It is now inserted into one of my matai kitchen benches. Originally it was part of a Victorian piece of furniture.

Mask carved in NP prison
John Ford - Te Rauparaha
Over the years I have collected a number of primitive masks. The mast featured was made by a prisoner in New Plymouth jail. A number of my friends worked with prisoners doing art. One prisoner was keen on carving masks and was helped by Rigby Allen the then director of the Taranaki Museum who loaned him a book of masks. It was carved out of a piece of kauri - the money I paid for it was passed on to the inmate. The carving was bought in the 60s.

In the 60s a began a long friendship with Maori artist John Bevan Ford . He joined the advisory team after working at a music shop. John had two great loves art and opera. I have a number of pieces of art by John. The painting featured is  of  Ngati toa fighting chief Te Rauparaha and Te Rangihaeata Through John I met a number of Maori artists.

On the left is a woodcut given to me by Para Matchitt and on the right a lino cut by Cliff Whiting.

Isle of Skye chess set
The three chess pieces I bought from the London Museum. Through John Ford I visited the home of Ralph Hotere ( who like John, Cliff and Para had been an art adviser. I  saw these chess men at Ralph's home - evidently he had a job cleaning up the original chess set and made himself  copies. My three cost several  pounds each - I couldn't afford any more.

Marilyn Webb print

Len Castle pottery
I like the Marilyn Webb print - it reminds me of the landscape behind my home town Waverley. What can't be seen are the embossed clouds.

Three Len Castle pots that I still really like bought in the 70s. I have a number of pieces of pottery  and a number of stone jars and also old bottles.

Fossil sea urchin

I found a fossil sea urchin while teaching in England in 1969. Over the years I built up a collection of shells and interesting rocks.

My favourite rocks are the small ventrafacts I found at Waitorara Beach. These days they are protected. I originally found these wind blown stones when   we used to camp at the Caves Beach. We mistakenly thought they were Maori adzes.

The best objects in my collection of glass are a set of blue glass hand blown glasses made by a visiting glass blower from the UK - his claim to fame was in making glassware for UK period TV drama shows.
Class mural

My bathroom features the Maori Papa and Rangi myth about the separation of earth and heaven their children. Originally it was placed on a large figure painted background


My most valuable piece is a large painting by Don Driver which I bought from him in the early 70s.

When I first put it up and it fell off and knocked me out!  I saw Don a few months later and he asked me how I was enjoying it. I said it knocked me out and he replied good!

I was often asked what does it mean and I used to reply it is about clashing colours. I asked Don and he confirmed my answer. It is called Zap.