I went to Bristol for Christmas and during a walk outside of the city came across this extraordinary Green Man, carved directly into a living tree. I thought it must have been fun to carve.
Then I headed for the North Island of New Zealand, arriving on December 31st and much too jet lagged to say much of a goodbye to 2016. Even on New Years Day I was too zonked for my favourite activity of boogie-ing in the waves. What a waste of waves! Someone please remind me if /when I go again to have a stopover on the way, and to sleep instead of watching movie after movie.
It’s amazing to be on the other side of the world! I am constantly surprised by the unfamiliar trees and vegetation.
NZ had no indigenous predators but now rats, stoats and possums, brought from overseas kill millions of native birds every year and have pushed many species to the brink of extinction. Flightless birds like the kiwi need all the help they can get to survive.
On mountainsides there is an attempt to get rid of wild flowers and bushes from Europe and return to native vegetation.
The pohutakawa tree grows predominantly by the coast and has lovely red flowers at Christmas time. Most were over by early Jan but I did see a few. Lovely wood, gorgeous tree shapes, magnificent flowers!
Public art is a big feature of NZ. Why oh why does bureaucracy, lack of funding and lack of will have to mean that our UK environment has to be so much less colourful? I saw whole buildings covered in murals, schools with inspiring art-covered walls, uplifting sculptures in streets and squares and on seaside promenades.
Architecure too – not just the magnificent art deco of Napier where an earthquake in the 1920’s meant wonderful rebuilding in the architecture of the era, but also grand new contemporary art galleries, and even stylish warehouses.
If I didn’t live Furzedown I might have to move to New Plymouth where you can stop off at the beach after work, enjoy public art as you sit in some crazy coffee shop or browse the galleries to your heart’s content. I saw an all woman exhibition r the Govett Brewster Gallery which hardly even mentioned there were no men in it (so refreshing) and was inspired to work in plasticine (!). The Len Lye Centre next door celebrated an extraordinary kinetic artist born in Christchurch but who mostly worked in the US. We were asked to put on ear defenders to watch the light and shadow and listen to the crashing of his metal strips the height of a house. But it was so exhilarating and irresistible we took them off. Have a look at his work on http://www.lenlyefoundation.com/
On a beach nearby with coal black sand and serious cliff erosion we found crazy mountains of timber that had washed off the collapsing cliffs . We admired what had been built there, took some arty photos and added our own sculptures.
To be continued: I moved on then to Seattle and enjoyed the Seattle Art Museum and the massive sculptures overlooking the Sound. On my final weekend I headed across that Sound to the very anglophile Vancouver Island. Then, home again and the jet lag was equally bad - but worth it!!
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