Face books at Central Library Peterborough

If you like art, or books, or both – hop along to the Face Books exhibition at Central Library Peterborough. It’s brought to you by the Christchurch Art Gallery. The exhibition finishes on 7 June so this weekend is a fine time to catch it.

I had a look today and it was mint. Artists represented include Colin McCahon, Picasso, and Chagall. I was thrilled to see works by two of my faves – Aubrey Beardsley and Edward Burne-Jones. Swoonsome stuff.

Here’s some pics:

Robin White - Face books: Christchurch Art Gallery exhibitionJulian Dashper - Face books: Christchurch Art Gallery exhibitionEdward Burne-Jones - Face books: Christchurch Art Gallery exhibition Leo Bensemann - Face books: Christchurch Art Gallery exhibition Face books: Christchurch Art Gallery exhibition

Music biographies: Picturing Canterbury

Music biographies

Kate de Goldi and Dr. Helena Popovic at Auckland Writers and Readers Festival 2013

Cover: The ACB with Honora LeeI’ve always thought that fiction can teach us as much as non-fiction about life, if not more. A medical book about dementia might give you the facts, but, if you really want to understand the disease, Margaret Mahy‘s young adult novel Memory is hard to beat.

Kate de Goldi and Dr. Helena Popovic both have parents with dementia and they both turned to words to help them deal with it, though in different ways. In a  session at the 2013 Auckland Writers and Readers Festival they talked about their books and their personal experiences of this cruel disease.

Popovic is an Australian doctor whose book In Search of my Father weaves story and science. De Goldi turned wholly to story, writing a powerful children’s book about a young girl and her grandmother.

She had always wanted to write an ABC, but the idea of locating this ultimate way of ordering things in a dementia unit where disorder rules only crystallized after the September 2010 Christchurch earthquake.

De Goldi was in Christchurch at the time, helping to move her mother into a rest home. While running  beside the river De Goldi noticed large cracks in the road and this started her thinking about cracks in the community and in her mother’s mind.

The ACB with Honora Lee mixes comedy and sadness, and many of the scenes will resonate strongly with anyone who has experience of the struggle to extract meaning from the fragments of language dementia sufferers utter.  As de Goldi says “You could almost say dementia is like a book and you’re trying to complete what they’re saying”.

Popovic, asked to define dementia, offered “progressive mental decline that interferes with daily function”. As she said, Cover: In Search of my Fatherthis is a vague definition but until now dementia in all it forms has been regarded as irreversible. Popovic does not agree. She thinks there is a lot we can do to improve our brain function.

Physical exercise, social and mental stimulation all help and it seems that striving to learn a new skill is enough – you don’t have to become expert in it. After being almost inspired to try one of the projects in Rosemary McLeod’s beautiful book With Bold Needle and Thread  this was a great relief to me.

Popovic also thinks the phrase ‘senior moment’ should be banned as sometimes we speak things into existence. A lot can be done to prevent dementia and to improve our brain function in middle-age. She believes there should be a comprehensive campaign along the lines of the stop smoking and drive safely campaigns – cognitive decline is not inevitable.

Not a snappy sentence but a reassuring one.

F.C.B Bishop Merchant: 1902

Bishop’s corner, Armagh and Colombo Streets [1867]. E.B. & F.A. Bishop were wine and spirits merchants. Edward Brenchley Bishop (1811-1887) was a mayor of Christchurch in 1873. He has a library connection:

In 1870 he published an abstract of the Municipal Corporations Act. Mr. Bishop took an active part in the management of the Mechanics’ Institute, being appointed its honorary treasurer, and one year was elected president, when the society’s name was altered to that of the Literary Institute. (Mr. Edward Brenchley Bishop, The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Canterbury Provincial District, 1903, NZETC]

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We have digitised a rather splendid 1902 publication Tourists’ guide to Canterbury.

The NZSO and Butterfly Lovers

View on NaxosIt is amazing what the NZSO gets up to. Browsing our Naxos Video Library I came across a film with a soundtrack played by the NZSO which  they recorded in 2006. Its called The Butterfly Lovers.

The Butterfly Lovers violin concerto is based on an ancient Chinese fairytale which is the Chinese equivalent of Romeo and Juliet.

One version of the story goes that the only daughter of a wealthy family talks her father into allowing her to go to school. There she falls in love with a friend and fellow student to whom she eventually reveals her true identity. They pledge themselves to each other, but are thwarted after her family betroths her to another. The young man dies of a broken heart and on her way to her wedding she joins him magically in his grave. They emerge together as two butterflies.

Two young composers at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music wrote a short violin concerto based on the story in the 1950s, although it didn’t gain popularity until the 70s when it was released from censorship.

The NZSO recorded the sound track to a film of music and dance using the “synthesis of the concerto” with  choreography inspired by Chinese martial arts and modern dance. You can watch this free on our website (using your library card number and PIN).

You can also listen to this very beautiful concerto on CD or there are a number of recordings on the Naxos music streaming service on our website. I like this one.

Armchair travels with William Dalrymple at Auckland Writers and Readers Festival 2013

William Dalrymple was definitely one of the hits of the 2013 Auckland Writers and Readers Festival, indicated by unseemly shoving at his session in the big room and a plaintive cry of  “if anyone has a spare ticket I’ll buy it” outside a smaller venue.

Cover: In XanaduAlthough he abandoned travel writing some years ago, he devoted a session to reading from his travel books, and as he said, he still travels for his work. Does getting shot at count as armchair travelling?

Dalrymple read first from In Xanadu, his first book; “a young man’s book” and one with some “hugely embarrassing bits”. In it he follows the path of Marco Polo from the Holy Sepulchre to Xanadu.

City of Djinns was next up. It’s about Delhi, a centre of refinement and manners in the culture of India, but a world split in two by Partition.

From the Holy Mountain is about another world that is disappearing: the world of the Christians of the Middle East.  They survived centuries of Islamic expansion, but now huge emigrations have seen them all but disappear from the lands they lived in for generations.

Cover: Nine Lives Nine Lives is his last travel book to date, and one he is not in at all, apart from a little bit of setting up. It attempts to describe the different Eastern religions, a subject more misrepresented by Western writers than any other.

For Dalrymple the worst thing a travel writer can do is the same thing over and over again. I don’t think he’s in any danger, but he did say he could re-write From the Holy Mountain in the light of what has happened to the Christians of the Middle East.

So who are the travel writers he rates?

Christchurch – this week in history (27 May – 2 June)

May 28, 1840
Major Bunbury on HMS “Herald” visits Akaroa collecting signatures of Maori chiefs for the Treaty of Waitangi.
May 28, 1866
George Dobson (brother of Arthur Dudley Dobson) murdered by the Burgess and Kelly gang in the Southern Alps. The gang mistook him for a gold courier.
May 28, 1955
First parking meters installed.
May 29, 1926
New Zealand’s first sports broadcast – a rugby match from Lancaster Park. Commentator Allan Allardyce was soon to pioneer broadcasts of racing, cricket and hockey for station 3YA. He also gave live coverage of Kingsford-Smith’s landing at Wigram in 1928.
May 29, 1967
Opening of the new Bank of New Zealand building in Cathedral Square.
May 30, 1874
First rugby match played.
May 30, 1890
Richmond joins City.
May 30, 1912
First netball match in City.
First skirmish between the invading North Island Ngati Toa (led by Te Rauparaha) and the Ngai Tahu at Kaiapohia. Te Rauparaha plans revenge after 8 of his chiefs are killed.
May, 1845
Gebbie and Manson families establish their own farms. William Tod and family settle with Deans.
May, 1851
Ferrymead ferry service begins.
May, 1877
The Normal School (designed by Samuel Farr, and opened in April 1876) becomes New Zealand’s first teachers training college.
May, 1883
Woolston (now Skellerup Woolston) Brass Band formed.
photo of Royal ExchangeMay, 1905
Royal Exchange building (now the Regent Theatre) opens. The building boasted the city’s first passenger lift.
May, 1915
First electric street lights in operation.
May, 1917
Mrs A. Wells becomes Christchurch’s first woman City Councillor.
May, 1926
Vertical aerial photos taken of the complete city area for the City Council. This was probably the country’s first aerial mapping.
May, 1942
Air raid shelters dug in Cathedral Square.
May, 1952
New Zealand’s first television signals transmitted from experimental station ZL3XT at Canterbury University.
June 1, 1862
Hospital opens on site in Hagley Park. But only after the first vigorous “Hands off Hagley” protests by irate citizens.
June 1, 1961
Television transmission begins from CHTV 3, Christchurch.
June 2, 1902
Municipal refuse destructor in operation. The destructor chimney, by the present site of the MED, was a dominant city landmark for many years.

Biography and Memoir: picks from our latest newsletter

Some picks from our May Biography and Memoir newsletter:

Cover: Love with a Chance of Drowning Cover: Comandante Cover: First They Killed My Father Cover: One from the Hart Cover: Not Your Ordinary Housewife Cover: A Street Cat Named Bob Cover: In the Ring Cover: Wave Cover: Mom & Me & Mom

Subscribe to our newsletters and get our latest titles and best picks straight from your inbox.

For more great biographies and memoirs, check out our lists of winners of  the Costa Biography Award.

Make your own New Zealand music

Experimental musicians love their self created instruments. I recently listened to a composer on National Radio describing how he used all the glasses in his house to create three octaves of notes which he then used to create a fragile sounding theme for a composition.

However, long before the experimental movement, making your own instrument already had a long history, especially among the marginalised and repressed. Wash boards, jugs and homemade percussion instruments spring to mind.

Dictatorships are famous for banning music of various kinds -for example Cuba’s Castro has made a habit of this throughout his rule. These days they apparently get around it by swapping flash drives. In the past it was done by inventing new instruments. In Peru for example, a percussion instrument called the Cajon is popularly thought to have been invented when African slave drums were outlawed. The same thing has been repeated in many other places around the world.

Early blues musicians often made their instruments from whatever was at hand because they couldn’t afford to buy them. Cigarbox guitars are a wonderful example of what can eventually evolve from using what is at hand.

You can try your hand at doing the same thing with the help of the many books in our collection on making your own musical instruments. It is a fun activity to do with the kids and a great outlet for your creativity.

Get crafty in your local library

Knitting is making a resurgence as a hobby, and nowhere is this more evident than at your local library.

Six of our libraries hold knitting and craft sessions, where you can bring your latest craft project – something you can fit in a bag may be the only restriction – no potters’ wheels or full size looms!

Knitters at Fendalton LibraryJust turn up and join a friendly bunch of like-minded people who like to indulge in their knitting, crochet, embroidery,  or other crafts, while chatting and sharing their skills with others.

You can also browse the library shelves while you’re there for inspiration for your next knitting, crochet or other craft project; the 746 section of the Non-Fiction area is a good place to start.

A few of our libraries are also celebrating World Wide Knit in Public Day . Peterborough Library is having a knitting event on Saturday June 8th, Lyttelton library will be gathering to knit on Saturday June 8th, from 11am -12.00pm and Akaroa will be getting the needles working on Friday, June 7th from 2-4pm and Saturday,  June 8th from 10am-1pm.

So come and join one of the groups listed below, meet new people and get that project finished.

Parklands Library: Craft Group –  alternate Mondays, 10.30 – 11.30am

Upper Riccarton Library: Knit ‘n’ Stitch – Tuesdays, 1 – 2 pm

Shirley Library: Knit, Crochet & Yarn Club – Tuesdays,  2 – 4 pm

Central Peterborough Library : Knit ‘n’ Yarn – Wednesdays, 12 – 2 pm

Hornby Library: Knit ‘n’ Yarn – Thursdays, 10 – 11am

Fendalton Library: Knit ‘n’ Yarn – Thursdays, 2 – 3.30pm