Thursday, 9 July 2009

Lunchtime art

What to do on a cold, wet lunch-hour, but head to an art gallery? Art makes me happy. It’s something I can admire without aptitude. I don’t paint, draw, sculpt or sew myself, so I simply enjoy other people’s work without any sense of artistic envy. I don’t necessarily wish I had their talent (like I do maybe with performers or athletes), but I’m glad that they have it so I can appreciate their creations.

I read a review of the
South Coast Gallery on Cuba on the Texture website. This passage particularly caught my eye:

Cameron allowed me the space to look over the work, then when I’d had the time to take the exhibition in, asked me what I thought. I mention this because I’ve too often been subject to a) the owner who jumps on me as soon as I open the door (Desperate) or b) the one who ignores my presence completely (Snob). Made a nice change I can tell you.

I’m a big fan of the South Coast Gallery in Island Bay and have been known to stop by on my weekend bike ride. So I thought I’d check this out and I’m glad I did. The featured artist was Gennie De Lange who fires ceramic glazes in kilns. The results are bright and quirky – that’s the design as much as the technique.

Many of her colourful squares feature my favourite things; cats, wine and often a cyclist glimpsed through the window, although I’m not so sure about reclining in the nude and a feathered hat.

The glazes produce glossy, warm or cool colours – The Sheep Takes a Dip looks pretty chilly while Hitting the Right Note is comfortably cosy. There is often a mottled patterned effect, which is ideal for less than perfect flesh, and the voluptuous ladies are justifiably admired by the spindly men.

My favourite is Free Spirits, not just because the ladies are wearing fabulous frocks (although it is one of the few pictures where they are clothed, and that’s not to say I’m a prude) but because they look like they have just stepped off the stage – perhaps two of the witches from Macbeth, letting their hair down but still plotting schemes.

Gennie writes, “What I get most from these works is the great sense of companionship. In each and every case there is a realized companionship and in a few instances there is the addition of a distant, unrealised. Desired companionship.”

There is also a selection of Tony Drawbridge’s drawings of Wellington junctions. Trolley buses and cable cars sit alongside horses and carts in these bustling depictions of intersecting lives from Te Papa to Thorndon; Kelburn to Island Bay. I find myself scanning the pictures for recognisable features – taking childish delight in the Lady Norwood Rose Gardens; the Karori Wildlife Sanctuary; the City to Sea Bridge; the bucket fountain; the wind wand; and, of course, the South Coast Gallery.

I am fascinated by the image of the Basin Reserve like a fortress surrounded by a moat and patrolled by a ship. A skewed perspective enables everything to be laid out before your eyes and although the streets appear strangely flattened, there is also a heightened dimension.

You can see things from above while others are in profile. If Escher and Picasso ran a town planning office, their designs might look like this. The mixture of strict technical drawing with elaborate whimsy creates a unique ‘artist’s impression.’

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

I'll be Mark Cavendish

Mark Cavendish has won another stage in Le Tour. We are watching all night - hence the lack of sleep. I love Le Tour, as I have mentioned before. In a great quote from the Guardian it is described as 'chess on wheels'.

I yearn for those sunny villages shown in the helicopter shots as the cameras cruise over castles and chateaux - I'm not sure if it's the history and culture I crave, or just the warmth and sunshine and lack of wind.

Anyway, apparently when he was about 15 Mark Cavendish went out on a training ride with a couple of mates. One said, "I'll be Eric Zabel"; the other said "I'll be Robbie McEwen". Mark Cavendish said, "I'll be Mark Cavendish". People accuse him of arrogance, but maybe that's the attitude you need to win races.

You've got to know you're good and you've got to believe in yourself.
There's an expression, 'If you've got it; flaunt it' - I've never agreed with that expression, but I do think that if you've got it, you should use it and be honest about it.

Monday, 6 July 2009

Speak the speech

We have a set for Twelfth Night now. We are performing in a school hall so we had to wait for the school holidays before we could create anything semi-permanent. The set construction people have been busily beavering away all weekend to create us a space to strut our stuff. I called them the set fairies yesterday, which I’m not sure was taken the right way – construction angels might be a better description.

I love it when you first step onto the stage you will inhabit every night for the foreseeable future. As you become accustomed to renegotiating entrances and exits, squeezing past set furniture in multiple layers of skirts and tripping (hopefully not literally) up split-levels in high heels, the play begins to come alive, and you can explore the physical as well as the verbal presentation of character.

I have been reading Will & Me: How Shakespeare Took over My Life by Dominic Dromgoole. He is, among other things, the artistic director of the Globe Theatre and he has a particular hatred for people trying to impose a ‘concept’ onto Shakespeare’s plays, which I entirely share.

He believes that Shakespeare wrote of amazingly intricate and messy characters – their strength is in their words and they should not descend into stereotype, cipher, or imagined subconscious motivation. Why invent an interior monologue for a character when Shakespeare has already given you a soliloquy?

Dromgoole eschews elaborate and unnecessary stage business to let the poetry of the text paint its own pictures. In fact, he advises Shakespearean directors and actors to do just as Hamlet tells the players: speak the speech clearly and suit the word to the action.

I really appreciate what directors Mark Da Vanzo and Kathi George are doing in our rehearsals by respecting the value of character and textual analysis. What do you think he means? Who do you think she’s referring to? These are frequent questions in rehearsals, and I really do think they are open to discussion. Of course, the final decision comes down to the director, but there is a place for trying out different approaches, and this place is in rehearsal.

Him Outdoors loves training more than the race. In a way, I almost prefer rehearsals to the performance. By the time you get there, everything should be fixed and constant. You know where you are. I like getting there. I’ve always enjoyed anticipation. After all, ‘It is better to travel hopefully than to arrive’ as someone once said. Probably British Rail.

For details on the production and to book tickets, visit the Khandallah Arts Theatre website.