'I'm always looking for the Hows and the Whys and the Whats,' said Muskrat, 'That is why I speak as I do. You've heard of Muskrat's Much-in-Little, of course?'
'No,' said the child. 'What is it?'
- The Mouse and his Child. Russell Hoban.

Go here to find out more.

Friday, 23 March 2018

Bobby and Alice.

In January of 1990 we went camping and brought home a self-reliant little black puppy that had been living rather poorly on fish bits tossed to him by campground fishermen, and what other scraps he could beg. He was a very active tyke and we named him Bobby. He seemed to have springs in his legs.  He must also have been older than he looked, possibly stunted, because by spring of 1990 Alice my airedale had produced a huge unplanned litter of Alice-Bobby puppies. In January of 1991 I only had three months to go of my own third pregnancy and was looking for homes for the last thee puppies.  I wrote a poem about it all, which I have recently stumbled upon. It wasn’t a particularly happy mistake, but I guess my young sons learnt a bit about unplanned reproduction and the consequences at the least. It's also not a brilliant poem, but it was the best I could do at the time I suppose.

Like many things truly amazing
They appeared with ease.
Bobby was keen,
Alice did what was required,
Seemingly indifferent, matching mine.
But eleven puppies! Oh Lord!
Dreadful for me
The first decision, the first six
Dispatched in batches as
They appeared,
shiny wet helpless butterballs.
The vet’s assistant
Comforting me as I sobbed
Pregnant myself.
And today the last three are now gone.
Four months of naming, growing, tumbling,
Walks, play, licks and cuddles.
Your lives saved
then given away,
In cardboard boxes.
Two to a guy in Thames
One to a guy up the Coro.
Easy come, easy go.
But not for me.

James, two of Alice's puppies, Gt Aunt Eva, Thomas.

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Up a Tower Monking

About the last six weeks or so, for a couple of days each week, I have been being rather Monkish.

A bit of background. A few years ago my former art tutor James Ormsby discovered that an ancestor of his had copied and illuminated a psalter, which is part of the collection in the Bodian Library.
He decided he too would write out parts of the bible and illuminate them, and has done some very interesting and beautiful work, even to my non-religious eyes.

At present, he has an exhibition ‘Tu’, of his work in the local Tauranga Art Gallery. As part of the exhibition, he decided he, or someone, would work, during opening hours, on another manuscript, but up a tower with the the work slowly cascading down the side of the tower as it progressed. He is writing out Revelations, backwards, and in Maori.
He talked me and two other friends into writing and illuminating a work too. We are together writing out the Tauranga City Council Vehicle Regulations. At any time each day, there’s usually someone up the tower working away.

It has been a fascinating experience. We have ‘taken a vow of silence’ and don’t engage with visitors through talk, but can answer people’s questions called up to us, by writing on pieces of paper and tossing them down. We wear a dark brown hoodie, with the hood up.  I feel a certain pressure to write Wise Words, which is not always easy when the question is something like 'Do you eat up there?'

We’ve done about six weeks and the writing is done. We are now working on the illustrations and illuminations. Two weeks to go. The general theme of my own illustrations is 'nature one can see from a car'.  So far I have been painting a lot of gulls eating chips.  I might move on to gulls on lampposts.

‘Tu’ means ‘the space between’.

Monday, 19 March 2018

The Battle of Gate Pa

This is one of the best descriptions I have ever heard of a battle that took place near my home here in Tauranga (better pronunciation is 'Toe-Rong-a' or Toe-Rang-a, both with a soft g).
I hope you enjoy it.  Allow 30 minutes. Worth it.

Saturday, 4 March 2017

The Cottleston Art Gallery - a bit about how it came about.

This house of mine no doubt had a name at some stage.  Most older houses did - this one must be about 120 years old - but if it did, the records are lost in the local council fire in the 20's or 30's.
When we first came here almost exactly 23 years ago I had every intention of calling it "The Last Visible Dog" as it was an idea that had always been very dear to me. But someone said that either sounded like some kind of dog-food factory, or worse (in that person's mind) some weird hippy commune. So as I didn't have any other idea, I didn't give it a name.
After my P.G.Dip in 2011 I was starting to produce art seriously and wanted to work towards an exhibition.  One thing led to another and I began to think that since the last child had left home, rather than lease a vacant shop in town, or try and get into an art gallery (very tricky without some exhibition history - Catch 22) the best option was to have an exhibition or two at home here. So, to cut a long story short, I combined a big renovation (new ceiling in the kitchen and dining, two new sets of skylights, new paint in the lounge, dining and kitchen,) with banks of rheostatted spotlights throughout the whole house, gave the old dear a name (something that hadn't been used before, and was 'whimsical and cottage-y and English-sounding'), and the Cottleston Art Gallery was born.

In August 2014 I had my first solo, and since then have shown my and others' works on a fairly regular basis. The current exhibition, 'The Bee Appreciation AGM, my second solo, is the tenth show.

Opening night of my solo 'Kuaka the Godwit' August 2014
'Our Bees' joint show Kate Steeds and Yaniv Janson December 2015
'Our Bees' Kate Steeds and Yaniv Janson 2015
Gallery visitors to Viv Davy's solo 'Daily Voices' November 2016
Deborah Forkert talks to gallery visitors during her January 2017 solo 'Remains of the Day'

Artist in Residence Sheena Mayer's show 'Decision', monotypes. December 2016
Sheena Mayer's encapsulations, 'Decision', December 2016
Visitors to my solo 'The Bee Appreciation Society AGM' currently showing.

Cottleston in the spring when the wisteria is out.
If you want to know more about these shows, here are some links.

Why 'Cottleston'?  As I said above, as a word, it seemed to suit the house, which is like an unfussy large cottage, and has modifications that are typical of the Arts and Crafts movement, including tapered door jams with wide lintels, an inglenook, high stud, black beams and cross-beams, and five matching lead-light doors. A google search showed no other competitors for the name either. I liked the idea of being, if not unique, at least the first location to use the name. I see there is now a child-care centre.

My son James found a pleasing, unusual, yet clear font for the name and also came up with an idea to use part of the house's lead-light door design as the logo for the gallery.  I'll write another post about this because I think it was really subtle but clever.

Many may also be familiar with A A Milne's Pooh Bear's poem 'Cottleston Pie' which seemed just the right degree of humour and humbleness, that I revere as a life philosophy. 

Here is a  link to a new website of the same name and one explanation for the words.  Perhaps the poem means 'It is what it is'.  Or perhaps it's a way, as Henson thinks, of avoiding tricky questions. Maybe you have a different idea. Answers on the back of a postcard.

Cottleston, Cottleston, Cottleston Pie,
A fly can’t bird, but a bird can fly.
Ask me a riddle and I reply:
“Cottleston, Cottleston, Cottleston Pie.”

Cottleston, Cottleston, Cottleston Pie,
A fish can’t whistle and neither can I.
Ask me a riddle and I reply:
“Cottleston, Cottleston, Cottleston Pie.”

Cottleston, Cottleston, Cottleston Pie,
Why does a chicken, I don’t know why.
Ask me a riddle and I reply:
“Cottleston, Cottleston, Cottleston Pie.”

Here's Henson's Rowlf's cute version. The original didn't have a melody of course.

Friday, 3 March 2017

Hello Again

Well, here I am again.  I have missed y'all.  I have missed blogging.
I have to blog.  Because it is debatable that if It is not blogged about, did It even happen?
So where to start? At the beginning makes sense.
However, contrarily, I will start with this morning, because my memory is not as good as it was and I do remember this morning!
It has been a cool and dry summer here in Tauranga, New Zealand.  A couple of days ago someone said 'Well, today's the first day of autumn!' and I realised that I have only had one ripe tomato off my vines so far.  But then to be fair, that is partly because I didn't get the plants in very early, which was because I was so busy putting on four art exhibitions on in my gallery since I came back from my two very intense travel trips ... it's starting to come back now. 
This was this morning :
From the east end of the verandah, 6.45am, 3.3.17

Tuesday, 3 January 2017


I don't know where to begin to tell you everything that's happened since June.