Monday, 12 December 2011

Landing in Northland update- a quick observation of the arts

Surprise art is everywhere at The Quarry
Rain is coming down steadily today and is forecasted for the rest of the week, so I'm taking this break from "Rocky the horse" to catch up on some writing and reading, and, I'd like to say novel revisions: the afternoon is young.

We continue to be blown away regarding the amount of culture there is available in a town of 55,000 in the far North of New Zealand.  I guess in part it is because, even though the population isn't great, Whangarei is the largest "city" in the far north.  And, let's face it, this small country has an inordinate amount of extremely artistically literate individuals and groups.  The following is an extremely brief update of what we have observed.

Recently I went with my friend, Kathy Mortimer, who is an amazing artist using sand and shells from New Zealand beaches, to a two day art fair in Paihaia.  You can see Kathy's work HERE.

Interestingly, the first day, we set up her tent beside an artist and her husband.  He happened to be a psychologist/author so we commiserated about the field(s) and his wife, Natalie Tate, is a prolific artist.  I've never quite seen one person articulate such vast styles.  She renders creative, yet life-like portraits but also has a command for the surreal or impressionistic landscape.  On top of that she has a spirit connection with her horse, doesn't live too far from me and I felt like I made a soul connection.  MAYBE, one day, we will have her do one of her phenomenal family portraits of our brood.  Although she says her website needs updated with her artwork from the past couple years, you can get an idea of her talent HERE.

Most weekends Whangarei has art fairs at the Town Basin and I must say there is no way I could begin to comment on all of the unique art I have seen.  They are on Saturdays 10:00-3:00, some Sundays and some Wednesday evenings.

One of our favorite places is The Quarry, an artists cooperative that is set in a funky-cool area with its very own waterfall and unique art surrounding it.  Atticus has taken clay classes there on school breaks.  We went and followed the sand mandala being created by the Buddhist monks and the unveiling of their new gallery.  They have been a go-to place for gifts. The OpShop also played at a concert there that was widely attended and had the old fashioned "hippy" music festival feel-- in a really good way.  When my 21 year old son gets here in 11 days it is on the top of his list of things to revisit.  He had fun jamming with the creator of the boxed guitars and playing frisbee with the three legged dog.  Apparently their summer art camps (for adults) are widely attended.  You can learn more HERE. (I'll say it again: love, love, love The Quarry)

Just a sampling at what can be found at, probably the largest and most fluid arts venue in Whangarei, Forum North, click HERE.  We've been taken by the variety Forum North hosts.

After attending the last theatre production we went to at the Forum North- a dance, multimedia performance by the Atamira Dance Company we were blown away. A review of the show is HERE.  And here is a clip:

As we left this show, Stephen looked at me and said, "This is something you would see in New York City!"  THAT is the caliber of talent we are seeing in the far North of a country with 4.4 million inhabitants.

A local production, A Pack of Girls, was packed on the final show, had toured the Northland, and was hilarious with brilliant comedic timing.  This was a first time play by a local production company, Black Box Theatre.

I've just gotten a part in a comedy with the Whangarei Theatre Company.  I am very excited and told it is an excellent cast and director.  After at least a ten year hiatus of doing anything theatrical, I'm a bit giddy.  Auditioning, itself, was a blast!  The play is Death & Taxe$ by a lauded Kiwi playwright whose name I do not know.  I'll find out more at at the read through Tuesday.

The amount and quality of visual artists is phenomenal and I was recently told that many migrate here because of the "winterless" climate as well as the spirituality component and that Whangarei has the largest percentage of artists in New Zealand.

Alrighty then.  Enough for now.  These are just a few things I've been waiting to mention and it feels good to be purged!

Now, no excuse to not get to my blasted novel revisions!!!

Love & light & later,

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