Three weeks since my last photo post, you say? Three entire weeks? Oh shhhh….let’s not ruin a perfectly lovely Sunday by talking about such frivolity, honey, it will only lead to an argument.
Instead, you have 21 lovely photos to devour. Since that will take some time – I will quit trying to deflect the attention from my tardy posting habits and leave you with the gallery…yes?
365 DAYS OF PORTRAITS: WEEK 34, 35 & 36
Now get outside, breathe in the fresh air, kiss some puppies, hug a cat, and eat an ice cream.
(or just stay inside browsing novelty socks on ASOS, drinking coffee, listening to The Cure…not that I would ever do something that*)
I’m really excited about this week of photos. I stumbled across this amazing mix of people who are full of life and character. They all have “swagger”.
However there’s one photo I want to give special mention to today – mainly because it involves my Father. I was on the phone to him earlier tonight, and all day I’d been thinking “I must remember to tell Dad this story, I must not forget.” But then we talked about dogs, work, films, all the usual stuff, and the story completely slipped my mind.
But I know that he reads this. He always tells me that he keeps up with my life via Facebook and this site (or my Mother throws her laptop under his nose when he’s trying to read the paper in the mornings, whether he likes it or not). Therefore I will now tell this story, to my Dad, but it’s okay, you can read it too – because feeling like you’re listening in on a conversation can be quite fun and I’m all for providing you with many of life’s weird and varied experiences:
Hey Father. The other evening, I was walking the dog, or “Mister big head” as you like to call him, in town.
We went around the park, then past the museum, as we usually do. As always, I’m acutely aware of whether I’ve gotten my photo for the day or not. At this stage, towards the end of our walk, I had not yet achieved my photo. The streets were emptying and things were looking bleak on the old “character” front.
Just as I started to think “oh bloody hell, I’m never going to find anyone,” I noticed a man, hovering around a large bus, which was parked at the Christ’s College side of the museum. He was wearing a retro baseball cap, a bright pink scarf, and was carrying multiple plastic bags which were so full they looked about ready to burst. I wasn’t sure if he was associated with the bus, or just chilling on the pavement. But I decided he was the one for me.
As I always do at this moment, I got my camera ready, took a big breath, then put on the awkward facial expression that I do for any approach- a mixture of a smile and anxiously furrowed brow. It’s an expression that I hope conveys the message of “hello, please don’t be mean, because talking to you takes a lot of courage, and I’ll probably cry if you yell at me. OKAY?”
So I approached the man, explained my project, and asked if I could take his photo. Thankfully he smiled, seemed flattered to be asked, and said yes. Once I’d got the shot, as per usual, I asked his name.
Now to those of you, who are not my Father (or Mother, hi Mother) let me explain this bit to you. Before my folks left Christchurch, two and a half years ago, my Dad worked at the Canterbury Museum. For most of those twelve years, even when I was still living at home as a teenager, my Dad would always recall stories about this guy that he worked with. A sweet, slightly eccentric guy called Bernie.
Ofcourse, the penny dropped. It was THE Bernie. Bernie from the Museum!
“ZOMG! YOU USED TO WORK WITH MY DAD!” I blurted out.
We exchanged a few niceties. He asked after you, then, quite seriously, said this:
“You know. To tell you the truth. Your father and I didn’t always see eye to eye on things. But I’ve come a long way since then, and I’ll tell you what – I’ve bloody missed him since he left.”
To which I kinda just laughed and went “aww” at. Because though you never told me about any specific clashes, I can see exactly how you both would have disagreed on certain things.
So there you go Father, though this strange project, I met your infamous Bernie.
And even now, I’m still kinda shocked at how my project is making Christchurch smaller than I ever imagined (and, geez, I already thought of it as small). As the year goes on the strange coincidences and connections are increasing. Which is rather bloody wonderful.
365 DAYS OF PORTRAITS: WEEK 33…
Hello and welcome to the 32nd instalment of ‘Miss-Creeps-a-Lot-Creeps-the-Strangers-Out’.
What little snippets of life do we have this week, you ask? Well come closer, let’s take a peek:
- Darkroom quiz nights so dark that I think we injured our eyes trying to see our answer sheets. But, meh, who needs vision when you’re successfully answering questions about obscure 90s TV shows, right?
- CAPD Street Art exhibition opening, as mentioned a couple of posts ago…you can still go, it’s on for two more days!
- The lady outside the Cardboard Cathedral was my second subject attempt for that day. The first, a lady just across the park, sitting on a bench, surrounded by 20 ducks (I don’t know how or why) REALLY yelled at me when I approached her for her photo *welp*…
- …but, still, I think I’ve only had 10-15 rejections this whole project. That’s now less than 1%. Maybe I’m getting better at my approach? Maybe I can judge the situation better? Or maybe I’m just really lucky?
- I love little more in life than a good cape, so I was delighted when I spotted Maisie at the Riccarton Farmers Market, and to think that I was still to I learn of her glorious Vadge Badge…
- …not only was Riccarton Farmers Market great for photos, but it also sells the best early morning hangover cure know: pan fried dumplings and enough fresh, doughy, carbs to make Dr Atkins keel over in disguist.
- Much of the past week, and the next ten days, will be spent at the cinema, as it’s time for the NZ International Film Festival. So expect a number of cinema goers to feature…
- …my artistic contribution to the NZIFF this year is to Tweet a summary of every film I see in emoji form. Yeah, so that’s me, making profound, political and earth shattering contributions to the Twittersphere each and every day…well that, and my endless and critical thoughts on toast and David Bowie (@loumagooo btw, come say hi if you’re so inclined)
365 DAYS OF PORTRAITS: WEEK 32
Right. I think I know you well enough by now to be able to instinctively read you mind what what you feel like watching…I think you want a swoony new song by Ryan Adams, accompanied by great hair, better jackets and even better boobs. amiright or amiright?
Same time next week, then?
Well what fucking heartbreaking news….
It’s only when I look back, today (too late, as per usual) that I appreciate how important Robin Williams was to our generation.
Sure, he is largely celebrated for roles in Dead Poets Society, Good Morning Vietnam, Popeye and Good Will Hunting – the films that everyone will refer to in the obits and articles that we’ll get flooded with in the coming week. However, to a whole generation of people born in the 80’s and 90’s, he starred in the films that helped shape our imaginations and film tastes.
Jumunji, Aladdin, Mrs Doubtfire and my absolute favourite, Hook, were VHS staples for any kid growing up in 90’s. Back then the kids’ films didn’t treat us like kids. They didn’t get hung up on dumbing down violence, swearing. They threw in our faces the heavy themes like death, divorce, the fear or growing up, and shitty parenting. These films served only to entertain and create alternative worlds.
And maybe that’s why everyone I’m encountering today, in my age group, is so upset and saddened by the loss of Robin Williams. I’ve heard three people in their 20’s say in the past hour “I don’t know why I’m so upset by this?” and I think it’s because it’s only now we’re realising how pivotal he was to us. It’s like we lost another tendril of our childhoods. The Peter Pan in us is being taken over by Peter Banning – the angry lawyer on a cell phone who is too stressed and busy to go see his kid’s baseball game.
Depression is a fucking asshole, man. A silent, numbing killer that gets too many good souls and yet, unbelievably, still carries something of a stigma in society. It’s too true that the ones who entertain us the most are often the ones battling the hardest. Don’t assume that just because someone is loud, smiling and funny, that they are fine on the inside. Let’s all just look out for each other, okay?
Thanks, Robin, for the endless mornings before school, watching Hook on loop with my brother…I still think about that fucking cool imaginary food scene on a weekly basis…I mean, just imagine eating this brightly coloured goop that could be ANY food you wanted it to be?
I have developed a habit of, when the subject arises, becoming an evangelical preacher of my city. I don’t mean to. It all starts innocently enough, a conversation about a restaurant, cafe or event, but then this wave of enthusiasm hits me and I can’t control myself. I can fill a good ten minutes harping on about what an exciting, vibrant, creative and utterly unique place this is to live.
I like to surround myself with other positive, enthusiastic and creative people who feel the same as me, so this point of view is not seen a alien or over the top. We’re all here fighting the same cause.
But not everyone feel like this, and it still dumbfounds me.
Yes, Christchurch can be a touch place to get into. It’s sprawling geography is one reason for this. Think of Christchurch being car needy Los Angeles, to Wellington’s contained, pedestrian friendly Manhattan. And our city also has a reputation of being cliquey – you status being based on what school you went to and what suburb you grew up in. Well that’s bullshit (unless you’re trying to get in with some fucking right wing posh crowd who only talk of european cars and popping over to the Maldives for a mini break). I went to a state school and grew up in the East and I am doing just fine thankyouverymuch.
And you know what? The people bitching and moaning about Christchurch being boring and bleak are not those who have moved here post quakes – the ones who I could empathise with if they said it’s hard to meet new people – surprisingly, the folk complaining are usually those who have been since before the earthquakes.
And I admit, that if you are here, trying to live like you did before earthquakes….well excuse me whilst I nod off in a puddle of my own drool. Prior to 2010, Christchurch was a mall city, with a dying CBD. Most people went to town for two reasons: Ballantynes department store – a mecca for Merivale mums and nanas in twinsets and pearls, buying up on Lancome and le Creuset. Or on a Saturday night to crawl along ‘The Strip’ a block of a dozen or so bars, like you find in any city, choking in 2 for $10 bottles of vodka cruisers, big screens playing the rugby, and vomit splattered pavements at 2am.
The rest of the time most would just go to the mall. I’m not going to get into a psychoanalysis and cultural reasons why the Westernised world is fighting the mall, and why they will always dominate, you know the reasons why, and yeah, I get it. If you do want to see a good short film about mall culture, i recommend you watch THIS which was recently produced by The Wireless. It does a great job.
So maybe the problem isn’t snobbishness or geography, more that re-education is required. A lot has changed since pre eq, and whilst the malls are and always will continue to thrive, there is a whole other world popping up.
Like I always tell, people, in my “pro chch” rants, I admit that it’s not always easy to know what amazing stuff is going on – but if you keep your ear to the ground and utilise social media – you very quickly get hooked into the right circles and subsequently in the loop. Christchurch is small and the people making the good shit happen are all very supportive of each other. We all like, attend and share each other’s work and events.
And you know what another big thing is? Just saying “YES!” and leaving the house. I tell a lot of people about things that are happening, and invite them, but not many bother to act on it.
So why am I writing all of this, now?
Well, this weekend has been a great example of these things cropping up – events that are unique to Christchurch.
Well last night I was lucky enough to attend the opening of CAPD Street Art Exhibition in New Brighton. It is a fantastic display of NZ and International street, graffiti, and stencil artists.
I know that at the beginning of the year, everyone in Chch lost their shit about some mass produced Banksy prints being displayed in the Canterbury Museum…yup…I mean, I love Banksy, but a Banksy exhibition of prints that some rich dude paid hundreds of thousands for, and now is making money from touring them kinda misses the point of Banksy.
Whereas CAPD, well it’s the real deal.
The exhibition was the brainchild, and put together by my fellow market pal Clint Park of PORTA – Stencil Art. Clint really did such a stellar job, from the exhibition layout, variety of artists, publicity, music, food and beautiful ice cold beer from local brewery Cassels & Sons.
I got really excited by last night, it had such a cool vibe and one of the best exhibitions I’ve seen in Christchurch for some time. It displayed a lot of really exciting new talent, in a top notch, invigorating way.
I was lucky enough to nab myself a copy of this panda print by Devos One.
…I don’t want to sounds like a pseudo hipster but it really felt like the best of Bushwick had come to Brighton and yet another example, of how if you know where to look, there’s some bloody exciting stuff happening in this weird city of ours.
Here is the event page on Facebook, and if you are in Christchurch should go.
Also this weekend hospitality mecca, Stranges Lane, opened, boasting three new bars and restaurants – including Orleans and Lower 9th Diner, whose waffles and soft shelled crab I am dying to get into.
Auricle opened in new Regent Street, a world first concept gallery and wine bar. Attached to the Auricle’s sonic arts gallery, is what is believed to be the world’s first dedicated wine and sound bar. Every month, a leading New Zealand wine writer and sound artist will curate a wine list matched to the exhibition and the music playing in the space. Whoa.
The New Zealand International Film Festival opening this week and will be playing a huge programme of local and international films and documentaries for the next two weeks. I have managed to get my list down a to twelve films, starting tonight with Nick Cave’s 20,000 Days on Earth.
As I write, the sun is out, and spring is lurking – if I had my choice I would be in Hagley Park with my strange dog, instagramming the shit out of the blossom, daffodils and a latte. Alas, I must work, as the next hot arts event of Christchurch is looming – Lost and Found Market – on 23 August. This Queen needs to stay inside and get creating some fresh works to sell.
So, yeah, quit your moaning – go gout in the sun, grab some chicken and waffles, take a walk in the park, go look at the Street Art then head down to the film festival.
If you do all of that today and STILL think that this wonderful, weird little city of ours is bleak and boring, well then we’ll need to have a serious talk…you fun sponge.
I’m currently listening to the White Stripes, kinda just imagining me and David Bowie in a White Stripes covers band. It could be a real money spinner. I’d have to be Meg, of course, on account of the fringe and fantastic drumming capabilities. Dave, well, I’ll carry him along on my sweet sweet beats.
Anyway, I digress.
Another two weeks down and what a bloody fun two weeks it’s been. We kicked that horrible little motherfucker, July, into the trash and licked the face of August – which despite often being the coldest month of the year, we get a bit more daylight and glimpse of “Hallmark Spring” you know, daffodils and lambs and babies in blossom trees.
As I upload these pics to Flickr each week (or two) I’ve almost filled a whole widescreen with thumbnails. Like, I look at it and go “whoa, it’s a proper bloody collection!!” – and at over 220 photos, I guess it really is.
Highlights of weeks 30 & 31:
- Uh, Dr Sketchy’s Kanye night. Such a great night. Such great people. I won a Kanye badge and got to draw Kanye, dinosaurs and boobs. My subject, Willow killed it with her poses and I struggled to pick one shot of the many she gave me.
- Last Saturday I went to Shop Eight, in new Regent St, one of Chch’s new breed of restaurants. They were hosting their first “light hearted social event” which is basically a dinner party with 16 strangers. The place is great anyway, but if you add to that amazing food, a little too much wine, like minded individuals, and some dancing – well it’s a good time, innit? If you’re in Chch and like beautiful food, or are inclined to take part in something like this, I strongly suggest you look them up. Even if hanging out with beautiful strangers isn’t you idea of fun, just go for dinner sometime. It’s well lush.
- As a result I have a few gaps in my pics and captions especially from that night – I clearly had my phone out as I asked the questions…but useful answers, meh, not so successful.
- Last Friday I went to a friends birthday drinks and who did I run into, but the beautiful Rebecca. If you’ve been following this project from the early days, then you have seen Rebecca before. She was my photo subject on 2 Feb. She was heavily pregnant, tying streamers to a large tree in the Botanic Gardens, look, HERE she was. Well, on Friday she was with her partner Alec, and that bump which I captured in Feb, is now a 6 month old baby boy called Archie. It was too good an opportunity to miss and I had to shoot Rebecca again.
- Meeting Rebecca was another example of how doing this project leads to some weird and wonderful random connections and events. The reason I chose the subject of strangers was to take me out of my social comfort zone and to talk to people I would never have otherwise even made eye contact me. When i showed up at these drinks, I was aware that I would only know the host out of the whole bar of people. And yet as soon as I walked in, I saw Rebecca, and hey presto, I had a friend! We’ve since become Facebook friends, so you know, we’re official! Swooon.
365 DAYS OF PORTRAITS: WEEK 30 & 31…
You can review my entire project to date over here at Flickr – will you look at all those people!
Okay geezers, see you later, i gotta get my Meg on and bang some drums.