Tower Bridge at Night

Last year I was out and about every weekend, as well as least two or three nights during the week. I was visiting restaurants, discovering art exhibitions and sitting in the gods at the theatre. Then around came 2014 and I just stopped. I don’t know why I’ve stopped planning and adventuring, but I arrive at each weekend with nothing to do. I drink coffee, go for walks and of course blog, but I’m not out exploring the amazing city that I live in.

The words I live by

My reason for lack of art is because there are no exhibitions that excite me at the moment. Last year it was like every museum was catering specifically for me, we had Bowie, Lichtenstein and Schwitters as well as secret poster art and National Trust beauties. But this year? I’m yet to read about an exhibition that I am amped for. Fingers crossed there is something later in the year that they just haven’t announced yet, but right now? Nothing I would leave the couch for.

Peter and Alice

Now there are some theatre shows that I would love to see. But ever since the roof collapsed at the Apollo Theatre I’ve been less than eager to book tickets. I know that seems silly, it was only one fluke accident after all, but I can so easily see it happening again. Every central London theatre I’ve been to (sitting in the gods after all) has seemed like it wouldn’t last in a strong wind. I remember in one theatre a man sneezing on the other end of the row and the entire section shook. I always comforted myself with the knowledge that I was in one of the most overbearing Health and Safety societies out there, that was until the Apollo. Turns out they don’t have it as under control as I thought. The answer is probably to go further afield to the new theatres built in zone 2-4, but sadly that turns into at least an hour’s travel each way…a bit too much for a school night when the tickets are affordable.

My other go to option is something creative, but I feel like I’ve plateaued on my old hobbies (painting and jewellery making) and without some significant effort (read: money and/or time) they aint going anywhere. I would love to try some new things, but it looks like I would have to mortgage my non-existent house to do a pottery or design course in London…not ideal.

Lacking art, theatre and craft I have a few options:
a) Plot world domination
b) Refresh twitter every four and a half seconds
c) Become an alcoholic

Currently I have selected option b, but I think my iPad is starting to wear out from all the scrolling.

The Depressed Cake Shop

So how am I going to kick myself out of this accidental hibernation? It seems like after two years I have become complacent about this magnificent city, after all I know I’m going to be here long term so laziness takes precedent over the urgent need to SEE ALL THE THINGS. But at the same time I am dissatisfied with my hibernation, I want to get out and do things. So I want the best of all worlds?

My first attempt at kicking myself into action is a small trip to Belgium (watch this space!), but if you have any ideas, or know of any upcoming fun things, please comment or tweet me!

Love runawaykiwi

Postcard photo

My parents both turned 60 this year (they first met when they failed science together in high school) and for ages I was stuck for how to celebrate with them. I mean I was across the world, not so easy to plan a party, make a speech or even just hug them on their birthday. So I came up with quite possibly my most elaborate craft product to date, this is the story of the 60 postcards.

I took it back to the most basic form of communication we have from across the globe, not even a heart filled letter just the simple picture postcard. But these were, of course a little different. I designed the 60 postcards to be an elaborate birthday speech from my sister and I, with a few messages from their friend as well, and then got them all printed by the Big Robot at Moo.

The postcards started with photos from the trips we had taken together, with text hidden in billboards or on menus. Then we had the messages from their friends. Remember that scene in Love Actually when that guy from the Walking Dead declares his love for Keira Knightly? Well those cards were the example I used when asking all their friends for help. What I got back were pictures of everyone who loves them holding some of the funniest, most sincere and downright rude birthday messages I have ever seen.

So one by one I sent these messages across the globe, between them all they covered 1,099,500km and not a single one went missing!

My parents were vastly confused at first when they started receiving one post card a week, and I can only imagine what the postman thought as he delivered them in ones and twos over five months. But they loved them (I think!), and without doubt it made me feel one hell of a lot more involved in their celebrations from the other side of the world.

Choi Jeong Hwa Flower Chandelier

Y’all know I’m a gallery ghost, so what was a trip home without a visit to the Auckland Art Galley. It may not be as grand or old as some of the European galleries, but somehow walking through those doors just feels like home.

The gallery was expanded a few years ago, where they managed to combine the existing colonial building with a modern glass structure. It means that from almost every room you get glimpses of the lush green park that the gallery backs on to. Nowhere else have I seen a gallery with such indoor outdoor flow, although that gap just matches the kiwi psychology which values nature just as much as art.

Auckland Art Gallery

Oh and there was some art as well! I will always love the giant inflatable flower sculpture by Choi Jeong Hwa that hangs from the ceiling like a Disney chandelier (above).

But even better than the art and the architecture is the branding. In every piece of signage, in every flag and information leaflet there is art. Literally. They have highlighted art in every message about the place, I love such a simple and effective piece of branding.

Brick Bay cafe

I personally think Brick Bay is one of the coolest spots in Kiwi land. It is a vineyard just a little further along the road from Matakana, and not only is it a good spot to drink a few glasses and try one if their cheese boards but it also has a very cool art walk. Now, last time I was up there was for my 22nd birthday – and shall we say things got a little bit entertaining.

After a strenuous (not strenuous in the slightest) walk around the art trail, I may or may not have had a few too many glasses of rosé. Then on our way back home I may or may not have had the brilliant idea to stop and empty my bank account by buying myself a laptop… for my birthday you know. After the nice man in the shop telling me about dual core and ram I squealed ‘that ones pretty!’.  So in a way this blog post has Brick Bay to thank, because its being written on that pretty laptop.

Sheep invading the Brick Bay Sculpture Trail

Aside from the awesome technology after effect, Brick Bay is more than worth a visit for the sculpture walk alone (even when the sheep decide to invade!). Set along a winding trail that goes through forest and fields, art is just dotted along waiting to be discovered. And some of them did take a bit of effort to discover. While my fellow winos walked past the small metal plaques, I stopped to take a gander and turns out it was actually Commemorative Plaques 1-4 by Dane Mitchell. I found them both endlessly entertaining and hopelessly poignant.

Commemorative Plaques 1-4 by Dane Mitchell

Some of the art was seriously creepy, soft whispering voices that call to you as you cross a bridge in the forest. While others were just perfectly, perfectly placed. I think that if you went and purchased Live Wire by Mary-Louise Browne, or Golden Bough by Jim Wheeler (most of the art is for sale) you might need to buy the entire forest to put them in. Although dare I say, Incendiary Artwork by David McCracken would look fabulous pretty much anywhere (hint hint… Christmas is coming and I have an incendiary shaped hole in my life!).

Live Wire by Mary-Louise Browne

Golden Bough by Jim Wheeler

Incendiary Artwork by David McCracken

Then after a final climb up among the kauri trees (well worth it, even if the sign ominously warns about ‘many’ steps), we headed back down to the real world to catch up over wine and cheese. If you do head up to Brick Bay keep driving up a little further and go to the actual Brick Bay that the vineyard if named after. Not a person in sight and nothing but you and the waves, heaven.

Brick Bay

Superman Peter Gibson Smith

My trip to New Zealand wasn’t all about cafes*, I also went to the Wallace Collection. The Wallace collection is a private collection by Sir James Wallace that has been put on display in the beautiful surroundings of the Pah Homestead. Wallace has so far managed to accumulate over 5000 works of art , so it is an incredible gift that they are now available for the public to view. Europe and America might be more familiar with this type of large scale public donation, but for Kiwi Land it is sadly quite rare.

Now here is where the runawaykiwi awkwardness shines through. When I rocked up to the Wallace Collection the car park seemed slightly empty. And then when I walked through the doors I was greeted with the bird like cacophony of 30 high society ladies drinking champagne. Nothing will stop me when there is the smell of art in the air, so I used my most advanced secret spy manoeuvres to get through the group and start my gallery haunting.

So turns out that the gallery is closed on Mondays and this group of chattering grandmothers had actually hired it out for a private function. Oops.

But when in Rome. I hussled through, one room ahead of them at all times and managed to get my art fill before running the hell out of there before I got told off or my cheeked pinched. My favourite couple of pieces this visit (the collection is rotated regularly so you never see the same thing twice) were the massive Superman head at the top of the staircase and the stunning charcoal drawings.

Ringmaster by Lorene Taurerewa

Superman by Peter Gibson Smith looked just like a fallen Greek statue that had somehow found its way to Auckland. Even if it was made out of the slightly less expensive version of marble (paper and wax), it had serious impact and just had a really pleasing and touchable form to it (don’t worry, I may be a rule breaker but I don’t touch art!). The charcoal drawings were a complete surprise, I haven’t actually seen any in that material that were not only appealing but also looked finished. But these large scale creepy circus drawings by Lorene Taurerewa were frighteningly perfect and intriguing… I am totally open to one as a Christmas present from any of my millionaire suitors.

If you are in the neighborhood I would recommend swinging by the Wallace Collection. When it is not inhabited by champagne swigging grannies it is a really nonthreatening way to view contemporary art, hell you can just go for the architecture and surrounding park if you really want to. I am endlessly grateful that this gallery is now part of the Auckland art scene, thanks Mr Wallace.

*complete lie! It was totally all about cafes and will be back to cafe adventures tomorrow!