WORD finder: Things to do in Christchurch if you are here for the WORD Christchurch Writers and Readers Festival

Kia ora, welcome to Ōtautahi if you are in town for the WORD Christchurch Writers and Readers Festival. Here’s some things to check out while you are here.

Hunting the art

Sheep in Latimer Square
Crafty sheep in Latimer Square

Check out these woolly guys just across the road in Latimer Square.

The newest Christchurch Art Gallery exhibition (upstairs at 209 Tuam Street – C1 Espresso/Alices) is Edwards + Johann: Rebels, Knights and Other Tomorrows: “Vividly imagined photographic sequences featuring elaborately costumed warrior knights and rocks suspended in jewel-like voids combine with sculptural elements”. See also the ArtBox on the corner of Madras and St Asaph Streets.

Christchurch Art Gallery has done an awesome job of taking art outside too. And there is some ultra-stellar work on the streets of town by artists like Wongi, Yikes, and Ikarus. Sydenham and New Brighton are the suburbs to visit if you want more street art action.

Chris Heaphy's Whare in Cathedral Square
Chris Heaphy’s Whare in Cathedral Square
Big walls - street art on Hereford Street
Bird – part of a mural on corner of Colombo and Hereford Street;

Pop into the library (includes more art)

Central Library Manchester (not open on Sunday) and Central Library Peterborough are both pretty handy. There is free wifi. Plus Christchurch Art Gallery’s exhibition – part of the Festival –  Proceed and Be Bold: The Pear Tree Press is on at Central Library Peterborough. It’s an exhibition of beautifully crafted, designed and hand-printed books from New Zealand’s most renowned private press.

Explore our website for local history if you want to find out more about Christchurch.

Visit the Gardens and the Museum
A favourite local outing is a visit to the Canterbury Museum and the Christchurch Botanic Gardens. Highlights are the daffodils, the new Visitor Centre at the Botanic Gardens, gaudy, gorgeous Peacock fountain, the re-opened conservatories, and the interesting Christchurch Antarctic collection at the Museum – a couple of new Antarctic exhibitions open on Saturday 30 August.

Cuningham House
Cuningham House, Christchurch Botanic Gardens
Christchurch Botanic Gardens visitor centre
Christchurch Botanic Gardens visitor centre

Take a pic in a big chair
A great photo op for you book-loving types is the Reading Room on Gloucester Street (close to New Regent Street which has gorgeous Spanish Mission architecture, and cafes).

Mobile Library on Gloucester Street
Stormtroopers test out the Reading Room

Food & drink

The venues in close proximity to the Festival (as recommended in the brochure):

At Rydges Latimer (the venue for many sessions)

High Street

New Regent Street

Barbadoes Street

Madras Street

If you want to explore more things to do in Christchurch, try:

Any other tips locals would suggest? Share them here!

Historical Fiction: picks from our August 2014 newsletter

From 1800 BCE to 1950 CE, our picks in the August 2014 Historical Fiction newsletter run the gamut of civilization.

Book cover: The fortune hunter  Book cover of No country Book cover of Out of the black land Book cover of Ramses Book cover of Euphoria

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Margaret Mahy, superheroes, theremin, and Hicksville: WORD Christchurch Writers and Readers Festival

WORD Christchurch kicks off tomorrow Wednesday 27 August with the Rising Voices Youth Poetry Regional Slam and Shigeru Ban: Cardboard Cathedral. Here are some Festival picks that show off the range of what’s on – get  your tickets now:

For Margaret Mahy fans

Elizabeth KnoxStart your Sunday with a trip, of the imaginary sort. The inaugural Margaret Mahy Memorial Lecture is a  celebration of our Cantabrian Queen of the imagination, and this lecture is set to become a Festival staple.

The first lecture ‘An Unreal House Filled with Real Storms’ is appropriately by the brilliant Elizabeth Knox and is introduced by children’s author and literary activist Kate de Goldi.

If you are a Mahy fan, there is also a look back at The Changeover, 30 years on.

What’s happening in Māori literature?

Te Karanga Me Te Wero: Contemporary Māori Writing in Aotearoa brings together writers Hinemoana Baker, Tina Makereti, and Huia publisher Brian Morris, in conversation with Paul Diamond. They will tackle this topic by exploring what we mean when we talk about Māori writing, who is doing it and the challenges faced by Māori writers.

For comic lovers

If you are fan of comics and graphic novels, here are a couple of sessions to warm your cockles.

Capes and tightsCapes & Tights: Superhero Comics

If you are a fan of comics and graphic novels, get along to this session on Sunday, 31 August 4pm at The Physics Room – philosopher Damon Young; film-maker and cartoonist Jonathan King; Young Adult author Karen Healey join local comics hero (and former Batgirl writer) Dylan Horrocks for a free-ranging panel discussion looking at Hollywood, sexism, ideology, and more.

Journey to Hicksville

I reckon the graphic novel Hicksville is up there in the pantheon of New Zealand books. In this session, Dylan Horrocks talks with  film-maker and cartoonist Jonathan King about his latest books Incomplete Works, and the forthcoming Sam Zabel and the Magic Pen (check it out online)

Woah! Theremin!

Cover of The life and loves of Lena GauntI am going to get to this on Sunday morning. A rare chance to hear that wonderful and weird instrument the theremin in action.

Tracy Farr’s novel The Life and Loves of Lena Gaunt, tells the story of a theremin player Lena. Radio New Zealand’s Lynn Freeman chairs the session, and John Chrisstoffels gives a theremin demo, and tells a bit more about it.

John is also in the intriguing new band Les Baxters (word from another band member is “the band is tres literary cos there are 2 librarians in it…”

Have you lost someone you love recently?

Cover of How to say goodbyeLoss of a loved one is so final and no matter how much we may think we are prepared for it, say if a loved is unwell we don’t wish to see them suffer, or that dying is the natural order of things in our life-cycle, are we really prepared for such finality? I think not.

Recently I lost my Mum. I know I wasn’t prepared even though my Mum was very ill and I was relieved she would not have to continue with such poor quality of life; the gobsmacking reality when it came of the final loss of the connection with my parents (my Dad died some 30 years ago) was heart wrenching.

Clenching our teeth we go through the somewhat short process of farewelling them. And what then? An ocean of sadness, the finality is abrupt and total.

I wonder if the Māori concept of farewelling their lost ones may be more cathartic – a Tangi somehow seems to be a more complex and genuine celebration of the life of those they farewell. Just a thought.

If you are going through a grieving process consider having a look at some of the resources at Christchurch City Libraries which may well help you in your time of grief:

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