Archive for May, 2011

May 31, 2011

Stone Cold Bottoms

Following up from my ‘Tesla Magic’ post I’ve been thinking about the art experience and children.

When we think of children and art we tend to think of finger painting in pre-school and lino cuts at primary school, but it doesn’t have to be art at their level, so to speak.

I’m quite careful not to ‘dumb down’ my language for our kids. As a speech and drama teacher I value language – its complexity, its subtlety, its nuances. I want our boys to develop an excellent command of English, and indeed, any language that they later care to learn. With this in mind, I speak to them in the language that I feel best transmits the message I have for them. I use long words, obscure words, any and all appropriate words – and sentence structures too. I do, of course, understand that they won’t always comprehend these more ‘grown up’ utterances so I’m also happy to provide a ‘little person’ translation when what I’ve said draws a blank look.

The point is, that I realize that, in the same way that we expose our children to language, we can expose them to art, including the visual arts.

We had our boys with us at the Sarjeant Gallery on the weekend. Our youngest was his usual placid self and either drank things in quietly or had enough of his own thoughts to occupy him. Our three year old, however, charged around and had a good look at everything in his quite active way. He found the wooden dogs in the Song of the Woods collection of some interest and was, I hear, quite intrigued by a manufactured tree with bits of person dangling from it. My husband was most amused, however, when our little man discovered a statue of two men wrestling. “Dey got no pants on!” he declared. Indeed they were nude. He then had to touch their marble bottoms to see what this was all about. Then their curly hair.

I’m not exactly sure what he took from the experience but I’m sure he filed a few new ideas away in his wee brain.

Take your children to an art gallery once in a while, just as you would a museum. Expose them to these things. They might have to be short trips to match short attention spans, but that’s OK. You can go back for another look later.

May 29, 2011

Tesla Magic

Yes, you’re right, it is disgraceful to have lived here for well over a year before ever venturing into the Sarjeant Gallery. We finally did yesterday.


We enjoyed all the exhibits but I was particularly taken with the exhibition of photographs from the Tesla Studios. The Sarjeant is currently displaying a selection of photographs from Mark Lampe’s years at the studio, spanning the 1930s to 1955. They show a variety of scenes and occasions, portraits, weddings, local events and even images commissioned by insurance companies.


I found myself enjoying the photographs on a couple of levels. I eagerly scanned them to find places I recognize or perhaps catch a glimpse of my grandparents all those years ago. But I also enjoyed the prints themselves. There is something not just appealing but compelling about them. Perhaps it’s the depth of contrast and the tonal range, or the absence of grain or noise. I’m not quite sure what to put it down to – not being a technician – but I thoroughly enjoyed them. So much, in fact, that I plan to go back to examine them again.


They say a picture paints a thousand words, which must be why I cannot adequately describe what I saw. The only possible solution is for you to get along to see for yourself. The Tesla Studios – the Mark Lampe Years exhibition runs until July 17th. Entry is free but donations are welcome.

May 11, 2011

Pink blooms and green ice cream.

The weather here in Wanganui on Sunday was lovely. The autumn sun still held ample warmth and the clear sky beckoned. Brightened by the fair weather and the return of my dear hubby from a business trip, I thought that a family outing was in order. So, after attendance at Mass and a leisurely lunch we ventured forth for a little afternoon adventure.


We trotted off to my favourite local park where we ambled, enjoying the sunshine and the wild life. Dear Mr Two (nearly three) took great delight in chasing all the ducks while little Mr One looked on with much interest. I made the boys climb into trees for the obligatory photograph.


Then we took a stroll through the winter garden. This time of year can seem somewhat colour starved but the winter garden fixes that. Wanganui’s winter garden is a little gem. It’s small but sweet and a little whimsical. In fact, I found it inspiring – more on that later.


After the winter garden we routed through the aviary on our way to the children’s playground. Here we let the boys go. This a great spot to sit down and relax a little while your little ones play. There are a number of other playgrounds in town but none so well fenced. What is it about swings? Our boys love swings. Mr Two shouts ‘higher! Higher!’ and Mr one just giggles his wee heart out. I love to hear a baby laugh, don’t you?


We chased all that up with the obligatory ice cream cones. It all made for a lovely afternoon out. Get out there together when you can. Have some fun.


Here a couple of images from Wanganui’s winter gardens.

Flowers and greenery follow the curve of a pathPink blooms at Wanganui's winter gardens


P.S. Our winter garden visit has stirred the creative juices and I can feel a competition coming on. There’s likely to be a portrait session in it for the lucky winner. Watch this space for the big reveal.

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