Thursday, February 4, 2010

conversations at the Christchurch Arts Centre

I am cramming today with posts on the NZ trip.  There are several reasons for this. One is that I met various people whilst visiting and I dont want to lose the connection with those experiences by getting too busy and letting all that go. If things are not written down they are pretty well soon gone. The names of things for example - I could not remember the tree's name in an earlier post today that carpeted the ground with its red blossoms. Also I have some wonderful things coming up that soon will completely absorb my attention - so this is a concerted effort to make sense of the past 2 weeks and complete the experience before all attention goes off in another direction altogether.

Below is a series of photos taken in the studio of artist / tapestry weaver Marilyn Rea-Menzies. On Sunday I was in this lively cultural precinct exploring the Arts centre and nearby Galleries, Museum and Botanical gardens and weekend market. Normally this would simply be too much for one day but the unique thing about Christchurch is that these venues are in a block of each other and by getting to the centre by 9.30am, and taking a good strong coffee, I was able to keep going till dinner at 6.30pm and have a quiet night to recover.
The conversation started with a ceramic artist and led to the studio of Serena McWilliam who works in contemporary textiles and botanical drawings. Whilst there Marilyn came in and the conversation veered to where she was located in the centre before she departed. 
So... later on whilst visiting Marilyn I took the images below. The first image shows Marilyn at work on one of her smaller Tapestries. On her left is the working drawing and below that is a close up of the work in progress. Following that are 2 large pastel drawings from her recent series on native NZ flora. The studio photo only captures one corner of her busy work-space. it was a delight to be able to explore this vibrant studio and discover all kinds of material - the longer one was there - the more there was to find! I was thoroughly engaged in Marilyn's process and her work ethic, her love of what she does and the energy of her work are a true inspiration. 
The large tapestry is something Marilyn has been working on for some time for a relative. Commissioned works and projects vie for her time and this busy artist also attempts to draw every day -  you can see much more of her work at her website and blog! On the blog top right you will see links to Christchurch's gallery and contemporary art gallery. A big thank you to Marilyn for a wonderful exchange!

The next images are from my conversation with artist Serena McWilliam who was most hospitable when I found my way to her studio Sunday morning at the Arts Centre. Her botanical drawings were quite wonderful - a year ago she made a trip with several other artists to Stewart Island where she was able to respond to this unique environment with her studies for botanical drawings. Stewart Island is at latitude 47 degrees south (the infamous "the roaring 40's") and is below the South Island (I must check exactly where) and 85% of the island is now a National Park. No doubt this trip was  very special for an artist given to fine botanical drawing. Thanks to Serena for her engagement on Sunday morning! Below: The work Serena is carrying out here is from the fibre/textiles aspect of her practice.

Photo of Serena in her studio - from Marilyn's blog.


La Dolce Vita said...

wow! incredible work! just awesome and so inspiring!

Sophie Munns said...

you would love this precinct. I can see you being very at home there.
It was a real treat to meet these 2 artists and be warmly received into their workspaces.

nevin said...

What a beautiful post.. Thank you so much for this incredible artists! Fantastic!

Sophie Munns said...

Thank you Nevin,
This reminds me - I would love sometime to visit your studio if you are into receiving visitors - are you still in Melbourne?
It's so enriching to see into the artist's cosmos. it really is a new world - an energy field that can be so alive.

nevin said...

Hi Sophie,

normally I don't receiving visitors. But you are my artist friend! So.. any time you can visit me.. I am in Melbourne. Just send me mail.

with love..

Sophie Munns said...

That sounds lovely Nevin.
I hope to visit Melbourne this year. Dont know when....but i will get in touch as it would be a pleasure to meet with you if you have the time!
Sophia x

Mlle Paradis said...

Sophie - sorry I'm so late in commenting on this post! So this was not a lazy holiday you took! It looks like an investigative tour already! So great to share all of this with us. We yanks know so little of le monde anitpode (sp?). It is obviously so rich and fertile judging by everything you're sharing with us and the wonderful blogs/work that come out of both Australia and N. Zealand. I've been wanting to get there myself - still working on it but so far disappointed over and over. It's been hard for us to make plans.

So thanks for this introduction. I know you have wonderful things yet to come!

Sophie Munns said...

Thank you for your comments Mlle Paradis!
NZ is indeed green and fertile - although I have not traveled the south Island that much and wonder if because of the huge coverage of mountains there is less fertile land....still its definitely a country associated with farming and productivity from the land.
And artists and creativity! I was always impressed to find that many, many NZ'ers were muiti-skilled as par for the course. They appear likely to learnt a whole host of skillls, gaining competencies in them as well. Marilyn at the Arts centre suggested the small population in an isolated country had produced this by necessity. The could not outsource.... if they wanted something they had to generate it themselves!
Certainly I think "doing" is a national past time - whether its "tramping" which you would call hiking - or 100's of indoor and outdoor activities. They also seem to have a capacity for risk taking that is on average greater than we here in OZ...the terrain and the geology of the place, isolation is cooler and being active is a way of life. least these are my impressions that I have heard said also by others.
Driving a car along winding roads means you do not stop and click when you feel like it but I have loads of photos of walking through a place like the botanical gardens. Do you ever get home and think...why did I not capture this or that Mlle Paradis?
I commonly do. I'm not always in camera mode or mood....but later i think..."OH what a shame!"
Loved all you garden shots by the way!

Maggie Neale said...

Such an in depth post. Lovely fiber work...well done and worth a longer return visit. Thanks for all you offer in your posts.

Sophie Munns said...

Hi maggie,
it was a treat to spend time in these artist's studios. It makes such a difference to see the entire process. Kind words...I do thank you!