Thursday, January 21, 2010

Tivaevae love and a flower making workshop

Today after work I decided not to walk straight home as usual. Today, inspired by Simone Quentin de Manson's post about Christchurch on DesignSponge (long version here) and franz tormers' delightfully optimistic assertion that "Christchurch is the new Berlin", I instead went AWOL for a while and decided to concentrate on the things I do really like about Christchurch. Given that it was mid-afternoon, pouring with rain and thirteen degrees, that meant visiting a few exhibitions.

My favourite was a small but stunning exhibition at Our City O-Tautahi called Tiare Maori. This is part of the Island Summers exhibition and highlights the traditional Cook Island art of tivaevae. Tivaevae are quilts and these examples are absolutely beautiful. I've read lots about tivaevae, (my favourite book on the subject is The art of tivaevae : traditional Cook Islands quilting by Lynnsay Rongokea with photographs by John Daley because it tells the stories of the quilt-making women and I am very nosy!) but realised today that I'd never actually seen any in real life. The exhibition features examples of the many different styles of tivaevae and they are exuberant and vibrant and well, if you like that sort of thing just go and see them.

Also featured in the exhibition were examples of the relatively new but related art of cotton flower making. These are sooooo cool! And on Saturday 30th January there is a workshop where we can go and learn how to make them! I had so much fun learning how to make crochet flowers for Slip that this seems too good an opportunity to miss. Anyone care to join me? (Ignore the book by date, I checked today and there are still spaces.)

Go on, it'll be fun! Let's ignore the weather and make Christchurch the new Rarotonga!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

New Year, new dreams, new market?

The children are baking chocolatey treats without me. Ken Oath! is water-blasting the paths around the flat-roofed 1950s architect-designed, U-shaped, dream-home to spruce it up for possible sale (tempted?). And I am dreaming about an item from my "Christchurch would be a far cooler place to live if only..." list. Sometimes this list is just long and depressing and sometimes it screams "opportunity!". As a real-estate agent would put it, some things about Christchurch are "ripe for refurbishment".

See one of the things I wish Christchurch had is a gorgeous, dangerously tempting, regular, contemporary craft/design/handmade goods market. I'd love to see a local version of the fabulous markets I've gone to all around the world. A market so good I would mark it in my diary the second I hear about it and arrange to meet my friends there. Somewhere I'd proudly take my design-aware visiting-from-out-of-town sister or friend to.

Auckland and Wellington have regular contemporary craft markets springing up all over the place enabling makers can find their niche and have regular opportunities to sell. But still nothing similar in Christchurch. Christchurch may be over-run with markets but none of them do it for me either as a shopper or a stall-holder. Call me greedy or deluded but I think what this place needs is something like Melbourne's Rose St Artists market.

My dream market would meet the following criteria:
  • Indoors. Non-negotiable. No discussion. Outdoor markets in Christchurch are grim and risky for selling handmade goods for at least 10 months of the year.(Christchurch is simply not the tropical South Pacific paradise sold to all those poor flimsy-frocked Japanese brides who must get hypothermia as they punt down the Avon on the happiest day of their lives!)
  • Handmade and/or designer, quality goods only (ie no second-hand stuff, no $2 shop type stuff, no hotdog man pumping fumes onto stock) with an application/selection process for stall-holders.
  • Great variety of goods including ceramics, glassware, clothing, jewellery, textiles, childrens things, homewares and accessories. Not just chick-crafts but also the sorts of things that blokes produce and sell. I'll get into trouble for this, but cool stuff, not naff stuff.
  • Stuff you can't find any old day in the shops or what is the point?
  • A market where artists/craft artists/object art makers sell their "diffusion" lines of homewares, clothing, accessories or jewellery. Where art and design students book a stall to sell off their end of year show work or treat it like a mini exhibition opportunity. Where emerging designers test new lines. Where crafters supplement their online sales. Where makers sell lines not suited to retailing because the markup makes them too expensive or which don't sell well online because customers need to touch them. Where out of town makers whose goods are not otherwise sold here come and sell.
  • Held regularly. I'd love to think Christchurch could sustain a regular market (monthly? quarterly?) with a rotating list of stall-holders who could book in as a oncer or regularly. A different mix of stall-holders each time means it stays interesting for shoppers.
  • Reasonable stall costs.
  • Venue. What is the perfect venue in Christchurch? Roomy but not too expensive or hassley to hire. Preferably comes with tables. Bit of character would be great. Easy access via car, bus, foot or bike. Near a money machine. Near cafes or with enough room to have a tearoom section of the market. Near foot-traffic or anywhere and so good it becomes a destination in itself? Set venue or popping up in a different place each time like a pop-up shop?
  • No entry charge on the door for shoppers. Never, ever, ever. Why is it that the craft markets with the naffest goods are also the ones with door charges? Yikes, now I'm really going to get into trouble.
  • For locals. Tourists could come too of course but once things are designed specifically for them they become grim.
  • On a Sunday because nothing ever happens here on Sundays.

Too greedy? Deluded? Would it work or would it bomb? Would you book a stall? Would you shop there? Am I the only person in Christchurch dreaming about this? Please tell me your thoughts. What is your dream-market like? Do you run a market? What works and what doesn't? Should I just make it happen or should you! Should we do it together? So many questions!

The image above is of The Finders Keepers markets. Read about it Christchurch people and weep!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

GST procrastination, again...

Some people never learn. Seems I am one of them. I should have finished my GST hours ago but instead I am mucking around and concocting mental dream-homes again.

First I wander over to the Christchurch Modern blog to see what is new, well old (surely that Jan 13th one is just some fake photoshop joke to see if anyone is awake. Eeww).

Then move on to Trademe - briefly because of all the horrid jumpy ads - and find an ex Abbatoir and and ex Army Hall ripe for refurbishment. Hmmm. I'll go with the Abbatoir.

It would need some new furnishings so I head over to Mr Mod for a chair, Duncan Sargent for some shelves and Workroom for coatstands. Shaping up nicely.

I'd go to Dilana for some rugs, Just Scandinavian for some Stig Lindberg and Josef Frank curtain fabric and Orla Kiely for a jumbo tapestry cushion (and 10 frocks, though I suspect they'd make me look like a 1960s air hostess). Swing back to NZ for a nice bunch of Ferrit's fancy flowers.

But what would I do in my Taihape dreamhome? Well I guess I could start with my GST return.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Powerhouse launches International Lace Award

Lace and I have a very one-way relationship.

I greatly admire the beauty of fine, hand-made lace and marvel at the skills, patience and perseverance of its makers. I read books on museums' collections and visit lace-themed exhibitions . Recently I've enjoyed spotting and reading about contemporary examples of real lace through to the many lace-inspired artworks and designs rendered in cutout, ceramics and print. I love the delicate beauty of Rob Ryan's papercut work, Cal Lane's metal cutout artworks and Janet Morton's lace trees. Closer to home I love the lace-like designs of the ironwork on the old bridges across the Avon in central Christchurch and Lonnie Hutchinson's cutout building paper work sista7, which is back on display at the Christchurch Art Gallery.

However whenever I try to take my admiration of lace to the next step and try to wear it, lace does not love me back. I always feel like one of the super-prim models from my 1975 Golden Hands Encyclopedia and Ken Oath! tells me I look like I'm heading out to sell Tupperware.

The Powerhouse Museum in Sydney has an extensive lace collection and a Lace Study Centre. They have also launched an International Lace Award for which they define lace as "an openwork structure whose pattern of spaces is as important as the solid areas." The award results should be very interesting given that it "seeks to encourage contemporary design and challenge conventional notions of lace and its application in the areas of fashion, the built environment and digital multimedia." With the exhibition happening in July/August 2011 during the museum’s international design festival Sydney Design 2011, I plan to just hang out in Sydney for a couple more months until all the ball-kicking nonsense is finished with back in NZ.

My absolute favourite lace object has to be the fences pictured above. Lace Fence is made by Dutch Design House Demakersvan. I am always drawn to things that are both gob-smackingly beautiful and functional and for me these certainly fit the bill. Stunning. Fingers crossed there will be some examples of these in the Sydney exhibition.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Corduroy skirts are a sin

Yes I know this will be old news to some of you, but I just love this so much I had to pass it on.

The smiley chap in the photo above is Syracuse University junior drama major, Chris Pesto. He decided to take action when he noticed two adults (one wearing an ankle-length corduroy skirt) on his campus holding signs that said “Homosexuality is a sin”. Before he knew it he had 100+ people holding signs for gay rights alongside him.

More information here. Priceless. I like his style!