Steam Punks, Steam Trains and Al Pacas!

ˈstiːmpʌŋk/

noun

a genre of science fiction that has a historical setting and typically features steam-powered machinery rather than advanced technology.

a style of design and fashion that combines historical elements with anachronistic technological features inspired by science fiction.

“the essence of steampunk is homage to vintage fashion with a modern, sassy twist”  Continue reading

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I’m reposting “BROKEN DREAMS” on request from one or two people…

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Being widowed is no picnic…

I was widowed over ten years ago and now days I can talk about  it more easily. At the time our dreams for the future were shattered.

If your husband (wife/partner) dies suddenly, that is quite different from someone dying  from the ghastly cancer.  I wouldn’t dare suggest how others might respond. They are all totally different journeys. I nursed my husband for months, and this article is about how I managed my grief.

If these words help even one of you I will be pleased. Everyone’s experience is quite different so we mustn’t judge others on our own journey, it seems to me that our lives prior to this tragic event have a huge bearing on our ability to deal with this and move forward. Some folk are not emotionally able to move on and hit a brick wall.   What goes before has  a huge bearing on who we are and how we cope with life’s curve balls   People don’t choose to react negatively, I’m  sure of that. They just cannot see light at the end of the tunnel. I’m not talking about the elderly here, more about people in their prime of life. Make no mistake, it’s tough.  Continue reading

Letters to my parents – 1968

In February 1968 I traveled to Australia as a young Karitane Nurse. Recently the letters I wrote home were discovered, my Mother had kept them all and some of the snippets, I think, are worth repeating here. Remembering  I was raised on a farm in Central Otago and then I had been to boarding school so I had a rather sheltered up bringing!!  My letter writing was prolific, 3-4 pages hand written most weeks. Postage was 7c Airmail to New Zealand. Continue reading

‘I MAY BE GONE FOR SOME TIME’

Last year I blogged about the Rural Women’s  speech writing award I presented  in memory of my Mother Pat Rowley. The award is The Rowley Brooch and you can read about the award  here. Jenny Malcolm from North Otago won the Rowley Brooch in 2016 and to my delight went on to win the National Awards in Wellington.

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Myself with Jenny Malcolm on the left

Jenny has kindly allowed me to reproduce her speech here. all contestants were given the same topic from the annals of history.

Captain Lawrence Edward Grace “Titus” Oates (  1880 –  1912)  was an English army officer, and later an Antarctic explorer, who died during the Terra Nova Expedition. . Oates, afflicted with gangrene and frostbite, walked from his tent into a blizzard. His death is seen as an act of self-sacrifice when, aware that his ill-health was compromising his three companions chances of survival, he chose certain death.  As he left his tent he said  “I might be gone for some time”.

Topic “I may be gone for some time….” Time 3-5 minutes.

Here is Jenny Malcolm’s words  and interpretation of the topic; and I can assure you her delivery was exceptional. 

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Essential Iceland – a day trip.

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Essential Iceland  is my short story about a one day trip I did in a very large truck from Reykjavik in Iceland generally to the heart of the country.

This was advertised as an all day trip. The Visitors bureau did not mention we needed to bring lunch and I presumed it would be supplied – anyway Valdi, our fabulous guide,  took us to a gas station to buy some sustenance. ( it is on their website but I had not been privy to that.)  Once on our way Valdi gave us lots of geological information about the mountainous region surrounding us. We headed north and then in land on sealed roads.

We passed the home of the only Icelandic Noble prize winner Halldór Laxness. Awarded in 1955. Laxness wrote poetry, newspaper articles short stories and novels.

‘Independent People’ is his most famous book set in the early twentieth century, it recalls both Iceland’s medieval epics and such classics as Sigrid Undset’s Kristin Lavransdatter. And if Bjartur of Summerhouses, the book’s protagonist, is an ordinary sheep farmer, his flinty determination to achieve independence is genuinely heroic and, at the same time, terrifying and bleakly comic.

I wonder if the recent movie ‘Rams’ was inspired by this famous Icelandic read.?

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Rural Women New Zealand – stand out performance!

 I blogged about the Rowley Brooch in March. This is a follow up.

After publishing my blog I was invited to Alexandra by the Rural Women Committee to present the Rowley Brooch at the Otago – Southland regional conference. I thought how crazy to fly to Queenstown collect a rental car and then subject myself to having to speak in front of people renowned for their speaking abilities. I need my head read!! Anyway I decided to do this in memory of my Mother.

I arrived on a very wet and cold Autumn afternoon thinking again “I must be mad flying to Alexandra for this 30 minute stint”. Continue reading

DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY & YOUR FUTURE.

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From where I am sitting in New Zealand the advent of phone photography has contributed to the understanding and appreciation of Photography as an art form. Some would disagree but I think people are realising that they can make images with their phone and that some people do it better than others. Photography as an art form is coming of age.  Galleries are happy to show photography and the public are flocking through their doors. The fact that I sold 10 fine art images at my recent exhibition in Auckland supports this statement. I know two other photographers who have sold works these past few weeks. Photography is collectible. Continue reading

What is a good photograph?

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Many photographers never reach their potential or receive the recognition they deserve, or think they deserve. What makes a good photographer? or a good photograph?  Simple question, well no it is a very complex question. Do you mean a recognised photographer or a good photographer? Do you mean a financially successful photographer or a good photographer? Do you mean  a photo you’d hang on your wall or a headline image from the newspaper?

Image from Exhibitions Gallery – Newmarket – looking upwards to the Phillips Fox building in Queen Street, Auckland.

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Guest Artist – Potter Sarah Harrison

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Sarah lives in one of the most idyllic places on the planet on Great Barrier Island. The island is only a 35 minute flight from Auckland but it is light years away from city life. When she was 17, recognizing the uniqueness of Shoal Bay she set her sights on buying a piece of land from her family and 12 years later she took ownership. Her dream was to be a successful potter. I’m not sure when she fulfilled her dream but now as a mother of a teenage daughter and younger son there is no doubt about her success.

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Sarah’s studio in  Shoal Bay is easily found near the Tryphena Wharf nestled amongst Nikau and fern alongside a gentle stream home to hundreds of tiny glow worms. Recently she had a bridge constructed to a secret bathhouse in the bush. Rustic or romantic(purely functional Sarah says!) you decide. She has a small character filled, self contained unit where you can escape the city for a day or a month. The room has a mosaic floor and other artistic curios adorning the walls and a large tree trunk is the centrepiece of this room full of quaintness. for enquiries contact Go Great Barrier and ask about ‘The Gallery’

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In her studio Sarah throws pots and runs two gas kilns and a wood fired kiln – producing a wide range of domestic ware, tile work and hand built sculptures. The entire studio is a treasure trove of ‘stuff’ shared with a few friendly spiders and outside two fat goats help avoid lawn mowing duties.

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I was inspired by Sarah’s enthusiasm and dedication and put a few questions to her.

Sarah, when did you decide to make pottery your career? and do you have any formal training?

I went to Carrington Polytech in 1990 to study interior design. As often happens in that environment where you are exposed to a wide variety of materials and techniques, I deviated from my path into design, having been captivated by ceramics. For the last 2 of my 4 yrs there I majored in clay.Returning to the Barrier the year after I graduated to build a studio on my fathers front lawn.Having felt the stigma of ‘stepping back from design to craft’ I was not setting my sights on being a ‘wealthy potter’Rather I was certain that I just needed to have a space where I could make stuff to my hearts content, and if that meant struggling forever to make ends meet then so be it

 

Have you won any major awards for your pottery/stoneware?

I have found that I manage to make a living mostly selling direct from my studio, as a result I am very complacent about entering into award competitions.However I did grab a couple of mugs off my shelf in 2009 to pop into the mug show at Lopdell House, Titirangi as I happened to be in town at the right time, And was honored to be awarded ‘Best mug in show’

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Have you kept your first ever piece or didn’t you realise that would become a treasure?

I have kept one of my first pieces I made on the wheel and it is great to bring out when I am teaching someone to throw…. saying ” don’t give up…. see how bad my first one was!!”

Like your daughter you also went to boarding school at Epsom Girls in Auckland but you are an original Barrier girl. Were you born on the Island?

I was born to the island, coming home at 2 weeks old on Sea Bee Air.

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What did your parents do on the island?

My Dad came here to retire in 1966, meeting my mum a couple of years later as she backpacked around and had 2 more children of which I’m the youngest.

You seem to have numerous projects on the go – how do you decide which one to start on every morning?

I have too much to do so I do what I want, usually motivated by what is inspiring me most at the time, although in saying that I’m currently working through quite a long order list so that takes priority…. and yes the lawns are being avoided.

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Above is the outdoor bath and her new project is the bridge access.

What is your motivation?

I think I have the best job in the world, I get to create in a wonderful environment and can juggle it around family commitments. It is very seasonal so while I am flat out over summer there is a fabulous off season when I can sink my teeth into other projects.

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Many young artists would be envious of your studio and space not to mention your success. What advice would you give to a young enthusiastic artist?

just start….. many things in the beginning were a bit daunting in particular the logistics of getting everything to and from the Island. As I look back I recognize things that used to be a challenge and now are second nature.

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So next time you are on Great Barrier Island collect a gallery directory from i-Site and explore until your hearts content!

PS Say hello to Sarah and her goats!!

 

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How rural women make it happen!

 

I love the small things in communities that no one much knows about out in the big world. This is tribute to my late mother  – Patricia Jeanette Rowley.

The West Otago Provincial Executive of Womens Division of Federated Farmers is quite a mouthful. My mother served the WDFF Otago (we think) as President as well as being the President of the Roxburgh Branch. Later on she was elected to the Dominion Council and travelled to Wellington for regular meetings. She contributed greatly to the work of this organisation in spheres such as Health, Education and Law as it affected rural women.

She was a woman before her time and she was forward thinking.”The Rowley Brooch” competition was instigated by my mother Pat Rowley in 1972. Continue reading