Friday, July 31, 2009
David Trubridge's 'Coral/Floral' shines a light in a Petone cafe.
For more in situ shots of this popular lightfitting design from one of New Zealand's top designers, click on Trubridge in the label line below. www.davidtrubridge.com
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Neil Dawson's Chalice in Cathedral Square, Christchurch, reflected on the windrscreen of a nearby parked car. Another quirky visual art moment in the life and times of AJR.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
‘Whitebaiters Never Lie’ is a fantastic Christchurch Arts Festival exhibition with a difference. It has taken 118 images from the book of the same name (also launched at the festival) by Murray Hedwig and Anita Peters, blown them up to billboard size and displayed them along the entire length of Worcester Boulevard from Cathedral Square to the Canterbury Museum. Hedwig’s photographs are stunning and there’s something surreal and intriguing about seeing them made giant and displayed within a busy cityscape.
Christchurch. July 2009. Ajr It took Hedwig and Peters three years to produce their book – visiting popular whitebaiting sites throughout New Zealand to photograph, interview and document the activities of many of the ‘older characters’ still fishing using tried-and-true methods. I for one am delighted they did so. I’ve interviewed a few old whitebaiters myself and the stories they tell are fascinating. This is one book I’ll be lining up. In terms of the exhibition itself, I’ve wandered along Worcester Boulevard several times now, always admiring the photographs and always fascinated to see how the public in general interacts with art in public spaces. This is definitely one show that is drawing people in and I’ve watched numerous visitors taking photographs of each other in front of the whitebaiters. www.artsfestival.co.nz
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Another in the Series Meet the People – Ordinary and Extraordinary New Zealanders Doing Interesting Things – Bristol-born chef, Ben Batterbury had always wanted “to come downunder,” so when he got the chance he grabbed it. Ben, 31, is head chef at the brand new Rees Hotel and Luxury Apartments on Queenstown’s Frankton Road and just months into his New Zealand position, he’s enjoying coming to terms with new ingredients and Queenstown’s remarkable scenery. Ben began his cheffing career fifteen years ago, studying at Brunel College in Bristol and working in a hotel at the same time. Since then he’s worked in a number of high-end country hotels around England, including Charlton House, Studley Priory and Homewood Park. There was also a stint at Casa Velha do Palheiro in Madiera and another at Cameron House in Scotland.
And so to his passion: “Food seems to have become just another chore for many people but I still believe that if you have to eat, why not enjoy it? The challenge of creating something everyday is what drives me,” he says. Ben also believes in ‘the theatre’ of food – that it should it should look good, that it should entice diners; and that fresh, seasonal produce sourced locally is at the heart of exquisite tastes. He carries that through in his interest in food photography. “It’s great getting up close to food and seeing all the colours and textures in a dish. I do a lot of food photography. In find it inspirational – and of course it’s good for the personal scrapbook.” (All of the photographs featured here are Ben’s work).
Ben pinpoints three highlights in his career thus far: achieving three rosettes in his first head chef’s job; being lucky enough to have worked in several different countries and seeing younger members of his kitchen team win national competitions; and cooking for Heston Blumenthal and the King of Jordan. Beyond the kitchen in Queenstown, Ben is getting out and about cycling and snowboarding “enjoying as much of the unmissable surroundings as possible;” and “as much as my wallet will allow, I’m also eating out.” And yes, he does cook at home on his days off. “It’s a great chance to try new ingredients and flavours without the pressure of customers. It’s also nice to cook ‘normal food.’ His favourite food? “Anything with cheese in. I’m a big mouse, although I enjoy anything that is fresh and well-cooked.” www.therees.co.nz
Monday, July 27, 2009
Image Courtesy Jens Hansen Contemporary Gold & Silversmith To celebrate the anniversary of the late Jens Hansen’s birthday this month, the team at Nelson-based Jens Hansen Contemporary Gold & Silversmith are adding a vintage Four Square pendant to the Jens Hansen 40th Anniversary Collection. Jens Hansen set up his jewellery studio in Nelson in 1968 and word of his unique style soon spread. Gregarious and outspoken, he created edgy, experimental work that brought him worldwide recognition. His classically-designed jewellery is celebrated in the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa’s permanent collection; and in literature showcasing New Zealand art and design. Jen’s legacy includes his reputation as one of the founders of New Zealand contemporary jewellery design; and his celebrity as the designer of the Lord of the Rings One Ring. He received a Queen Elizabethh II Arts Council grant to work at the Goldsmiths High School in Copenhagen in 1975; he was a founding member of Details – the jewellers and Bone & Stone Carvers of New Zealand; and he helped establish Nelson Polytechnic jewellery classes. Jens sadly passed away in 1999 but his two sons are keeping the legacy alive. Thorkild Hansen was an apprentice jewellery designer in his teens and is now chief jeweller at the company’s Selwyn Place workshop; and Halfdan Hansen is business manager. Halfdan says the newly released Four Square pendant represents the very distinctive style Jens loved in the 1960s and 1970s. “Jens’ architectural influences were sometimes displayed through his asymmetrical shapes and geometric designs,” he says. “This silver pendant is quite a statement and surprisingly delicate for its size. When it was made in the early 1970s, it took the public by surprise as it was so different to the conservative jewellery available here at the time.” Today the Four Square pendant retails for NZ$999 and you can see the entire 40th Anniversary Collection at the Jens Hansen workshop in Nelson, or by visiting www.jenshansen.com It’s worth it – the rings in particular are stunning!
I sometimes wonder why I can't be satisfied with one image of a thing. But no, I'm the sort of person who revisits things over and over again and, as a result, I end up with dozens (if not hundreds) of images of the same subject. That said, I think there's something to be said for photographing a subject at different times of the day, from different angles, in different moods. This work, "Out of Black Water" is by Christchurch sculptor, Bing Dawe and if you click on his name in the label line below this post, you'll be able to 'visit him' in his Christchurch studio and see more of his eel works. This one, made of carved kauri and steel, hangs in the Christchurch Arts Centre buildings; and what caught my eye on this visit, was the shadows it was casting on the stark white wall - all that framed by the wonderful architecture of the Arts Centre staircase.
Sunday, July 26, 2009
I hope you'll all forgive me for hitting you with so many out-of-focus photos over the past few days. Truth is, photographs like this one appeal to me - obviously not for their technical finesse but rather for their crazy interplay of colour, pattern and mood. To me, they're not so different from a painting, albeit an accidental one; and I'm not a stickler for photographic perfection if an image captures my imagination and holds me for other (accidental) reasons. I took this photograph at the opening of the Christchurch Arts Festival Winter Garden 2009 in Cathedral Square on Thursday night. www.artsfestival.co.nz
Saturday, July 25, 2009
Christchurch. July 2009 Ajr
The TV1 Ice Dome, erected in Christchurch’s Cathedral Square as part of the Christchurch Arts Festival Winter Garden 2009, contains a temporary ice rink, which opened on Friday afternoon. The 30-metre diameter dome was bought by the Christchurch City Council for $480,000 and was first used during the Ellerslie International Flower Show in Hagley Park back in March. I love its shiny, translucent skin and while it’s rather hard to photograph well from the outside, I did manage to get a few shots of the first skaters on the rink at a function there last night. What I like best is the beautiful 40-minute projection called ‘Lumiere,’ which runs continually from 6pm onward. It was compiled by the Auckland team, Spyglass, who created the projections for the giant rugby ball at the Eiffel Tower in Paris and it features nine different landscape images by Christchurch photographer, John Maylard…with a two minute snowstorm between each sequence. You'll find some exterior views of the dome by night below. www.artsfestival.co.nz
Friday, July 24, 2009
Christchurch July 2009. Ajr
These two surreal little photos capture the mood of what was a very surreal little performance by the very bendy twins - The Twisty Twins - Jola and Nele Siezen, who were the opening act at the launch of the Christchurch Arts Festival Winter Garden 2009, in Cathedral Square last night. The identical twins - like a mirror image - are members of the Loons Circus Theatre Company's 'Happy Home Road' production, which shows at the James Hay Theatre in early August. In the meantime, they were showstealers on festival opening night.
I went along to Cathedral Square for the opening of the Christchurch Arts Festival Winter Garden 2009 last night. It was all bright lights, photographers, television crews, laughing crowds, song and dance - just the way to kick off a brilliant festival programme in the middle of a freezing winter. This shot shows the Christchurch Anglican Cathdral glowing in the dark. If you'd like to see photographs of the opening Maori performance by Ngai Tahu's Tuahiwi Kapa Haka group, click on the black and white carving at the top right of this home page and you'll be delivered straight there. I'll be featuring dozens more festival photographs in the coming weeks, so if you're interested in what's happening in Christchurch, stay tuned. www.artsfestival.co.nz
Thursday, July 23, 2009
I featured this building here a few days ago but how much better it looks on a blue-skied day. It's Christchurch's newst office highrise (well...a mere 13-stories if you can call that highrise), and New Zealand's first 5-star Green Rated building (NZ Green Building Council). It was a Lattitude Group project and it's located on Worcester Street just across the tram lines from Christchurch Art Gallery. I have taken to photographing its details - in fact, I've been photographing its details for some time. If you enter 'cranes' into the blog search box, you'll find a number of shots of it under construction. I like it overall but I do wonder if anyone will ever use these flimsy-looking little balconies. The building overlooks one of Christchurch's busiest walkways, so anyone standing on the balconies is going to be 'on show' to the passing world.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
You only need to click on the word Chalice in the label line below this post to see that I am totally seduced by the silvery-blue tangle of pattern that is Neil Dawson's Chalice, which dominates Cathedral Square. I rarely walk passed it without taking a photograph, so I have it summer, winter, spring, autumn, night, day, rain and sunshine. People seem to either love it or hate it. Obviously I love it as a photographic subject - and for the way it stands apart from the surrounding architecture; the way it dwarfs the busy throngs of photographing tourists at its base; the way it catches and reflects the light; the way it glows in the dark; the way it stirs controversy. Isn't that what a good piece of public art is supposed to do? As far as large, egotistic art statements go, I think its a beauty.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Mannequins are not new – not here, on this blog, nor anywhere in modern culture. They’ve been around for centuries – as far back as the time of the Egyptian pharaohs, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance and beyond – and I for one, can seldom go passed them. I have files filled with mannequin photos and the stranger they are, the better I like them. I’m not entirely sure what draws me to them – sometimes it’s a matter of colour, or expression; other times it’s a body angle, an eerie similarity to reality, or the comical way shop owners have dressed them in unexpected costumes and used them for marketing purposes. Interestingly, it seems just as many people are repelled by them; and their presence in horror movies, like Stanley Kubrick’s “Killer’s Kiss” for instance, seems to confirm what many see as a disturbing presence. I’m amused to discover in fact, that there is a recognised irrational fear of mannequins called pediophobia.
I, meanwhile, was in mannequin heaven a couple of weekends ago when I stepped into The Village Junk Shop in Sumner, here in Christchurch. I love this tiny den of second-hand cast-offs. It’s one of several I frequent and as soon as I was through the door I fell upon a wooden box filled with mannequin’s hands. “There’s more out in the back room,” the owner said, with what turned out to be unbelievable understatement.
The shop’s back room is one of those tiny, low-ceiled cottage affairs that makes you wonder how small people must have been a hundred years ago. And there it was, jammed full with a jumble - an orgy in fact - of body parts. ‘A stand’ of undamaged models looked on, their ‘skin’ a wonderful mottled, peeling shell for what seemed to me, quite separate personalities. That’s the element of duality that intrigues me – for no matter how stiff and ‘cloned’ they are supposed to be, they almost always have an individual character. Maybe that’s why people find them creepy. Of course for others (women mostly), mannequins can also represent all that is wrong with fashion and its portrayal of perfection as the ultimate goal. My interest is actually quite in keeping with my love of anything slightly quirky or bizarre, anything that creates an unexpected visual juxtaposition that makes me stop and look twice. If you want to see any of the others I’ve photographed, click on the word mannequins in the label line below this post.
Monday, July 20, 2009
Wellington. April 2009 Ajr This is Scopa on the corner of Ghuznee and Cuba Streets, in Wellington - one of my favourite spots to sit and drink coffee and watch the world go by. It's a great people-watching spot, although this time I turned the tables and watched the people watching the people. Opened in 2006, it is the brainchild of Italian brothers Leonardo and Lorenzo Bresolin, sons of the late Remiro Bresolin of Il Casino fame. It was a sad day when Il Casino closed down after Remiro's death in 2007 but at least his sons are continuing the family tradition with a terrific menu that pays homage to their Italian roots. They've also branched out and opened Duke Carvell's just up the street a bit; but I still prefer the openness of Scopa. www.scopa.co.nz
Sunday, July 19, 2009
The Arts Festival Ice Dome is up and I'm pleased to say it's going to be my new photographic plaything for the duration of its life in Cathedral Square. The ice skating rink inside it isn't completed yet but I'm going to the opening of that on Friday 24th July, so will have separate photos then. In the meantime, consider this the first of many of the exterior. I love the slightly alien feel it has, wedged among seventies highrise and classic Victorian architectural icons, with all the modern-day busyness rustling around its 'feet.' The 30-metre dome has been erected on a sand base and its beautiful, satiny, transluscent skin will allow spectactors outside see the shadowy forms of up to 150 skaters performing inside. Can't wait.
Saturday, July 18, 2009
Melbourne 2007. Ajr Last night I was reminded of my passion for two (or many) things - Melbourne, my favourite Australian city; and street art/gaffiti. Turns out one of my blog readers is a graffiti fan too and last night I followed him all around my blog as he wrote great comments here and there along his visual journey. (Thanks BF; Love it :-)). The trouble with a blog is, once it gets to a certain age, it has this HUGE backlog of material in its archives that many people never visit - that I never re-visit myself; so last night's little trip through the archives was fun. It reminded me of just how many postings I've made about gaffiti - and it also reminded me of how many hundreds of photographs I still have to share. So here's two of them - from one of Melbourne's back lanes where graffiti rules - and in a good way! And whatever, your interests, I do hope you'll take time to explore the deep inner recesses of my blog - you never know what you might find. :-) Just put a word into the blog search box (top left) and away you go.
Walking down Colombo Street the other day, I was distracted by a bright burst of colour out of the corner of my eye - the waiting area at the Christchurch Bus Exchange. I don't know how I could have missed it on previous walk-bys. Maybe the doors were shut then? Once spotted, twice snapped!
Friday, July 17, 2009
If you’ve been to Queenstown lately, you’ve probably heard all the hype about Botswana Butchery, the new restaurant in Archers Cottage on Marine Parade overlooking Lake Wakatipu. Like anything (reasonably) new, it’s being held up as the best thing since sliced bread and those who’ve been there generally talk about it with an air of superiority that I find tedious – like wine snobs, the ‘literati’ and people who talk about buying art as if they’ve been blessed with an intellectual alchemy and a power of discernment that the rest of us apparently lack. Maybe that’s why – in a perverse and probably ridiculous act of defiance – I photographed the sign on the workers’ entrance to the restaurant rather than the sumptuous interior.
All that aside, owner and executive chef Leungo Lippe seems to be doing well. He opened the first Botswana Butchery in Wanaka in June 2007, tucked into cute little Post Office Lane with a couple of other popular night spots. Now he divides his time between the two, mustering his staff to turn out a menu heavily slanted in favour of the meat-eater. This is a place of prime cuts, wild game and things organic. You pay accordingly. Main courses range from NZ$28 to $80 and you pay another $6 to $9 for any single serve of vegetables on top of that. I may be showing myself up as a philistine but if I’m paying (on average) $35-$45 for a main course, I want vegetables included. Maybe I’ve lost touch? Whatever! At least the restaurant décor is easy on the eye and I do like their sign. I'll leave you to make up your own minds about value.
Auckland. April 2009. Ajr I love the crazy unpredictable nature of night photography - especially the random way I approach it. You could never call me technical that's for sure. I'm much more interested in a mood, a feeling, an essence, an explosion of colour and texture than I am in technical facility and a perfect rendition of a scene or object. I love the spontaneous and the candid rather than the planned and orchestrated. That's my excuse anyway and I'm sticking to it.