I painted this work over Christmas 1979/80. It was a time of great changes to come in my life, though I didn’t know it then. I was on a long Christmas vacation, having completed 3 units of science at Uni that year, and having decided science was not going to be my future.
I knew I would return to Wellington, but in what capacity I had no idea: I had no job. Meantime there was a long holiday spell to concentrate on art.
I painted 3 major pieces that Christmas and created a number of smaller works and some drawings. I put the drawings up for sale in a small local gallery and they sold immediately.
My father, who had always been my art mentor, disliked this painting intensely, and soon let me know it. I dug in my heels and carried on with it, and in January entered this piece and 2 other works into the Bay Of Islands New Year Art Exhibition in Paihia. Two were for sale – this one and Unfolding Fern Kiokio . The third one was The Sacred Place . They all passed the jury examination and the two pieces on sale sold during the exhibition.
So much for that!
I returned to Wellington and by an amazing turn of circumstances, within a couple of months I was full time National Secretary of the NZ Deerstalkers Association, with over 40 branches nationwide. a 7 man national executive that met quarterly and a large scale annual conference. I’d been involved with them for several years. Looking back, it was the happiest time of my life in a job. However –
During my first year there, my father was diagnosed with chronic lymphatic leukemia.
It’s a long way from Kaeo to Wellington (about 600 ml), so 18 months later I went back into law and moved north to Hamilton as regional solicitor for my former employer the ACC. This move was not an entirely happy one, but at least I saw more of my folks.
My dad died in August 1985 and that Christmas my mom and I came up here to get this place ready to put on the market. He had said we would have to sell the property and with the half-finished house which they had been building, he foretold we wouldn’t get much for it… It was a sad time.
But by Christmas, we had decided NOT to sell up!
I couldn’t bear the idea and nor could my mom. A huge load lifted in our spirits, because we both loved the property dearly. We did our sums and got a builder in to finish the house (drama, drama) and while my mom stayed here, I completed the lecturing contract I now had with the Waikato Polytechnic (Business Law for the NZ Society of Accountants’ qualification), visiting at weekends as much as I could.
By Christmas 1986 I was back up here to stay. The distance from this place to the New Zealand I had been used to is a bit daunting, but several attempts I’ve made to move have come to naught, so this must be where I am meant to be.
Christmas is always a time of great memories for me here.
Kathleen and the building on a sunny autumn day in 1986.
For more details on the work and to see products, click on the image.
In fact, the last time I exhibited was in 2000, before my mother began to get really sick.
To coincide with Matariki – or the rising of the Pleiades (more later), some really enterprising locals held an art exhibition in our small town in late June 2015 – the first local art show ever, I think.
Having gone through the initial panic of ‘nothing to wear’, which for an artist translates as, “Help! I’ve got nothing that’s ready to be hung” (like: not framed, no fixings, not quite finished etc etc), I managed to dredge up 7 pieces.
One of which was “The Journey 1” – intended as the start of a new series and just recently finished:
The inspiration for this picture goes back to my days in government in Wellington, to a long weekend in 1975 when a friend and I took a workmate up to Mangaturuturu Hut on Mount Ruapehu.
At about 4pm, the mountain (given the right weather conditions) turns a magnificent shade of pink. I took the photos below from the hut and I used them as a reference for this work, along with an old shot of Peter, taken in the Kaimanawas by one of his mates, as an inspiration for the pose of the figure.
Peter, who is still in Wellington, often says he needs to go in the hills from time to time to get ‘grounded’ – which is part of what this painting is about. Maybe I don’t need to ‘connect’ so much now, because I live on the edge of a bush reserve, but I DO miss those mountains.
And the big bag (which you’ll note isn’t a tramping or hiking backpack) is there for a purpose.
Billy Joel’s ‘River Of Dreams’ has relevance here, too:
See also my follow-up post ‘Ruapehu Sunset‘.