“For Later” lately (5)

In an attempt to tame her ever-growing For Later list,  Robyn has decided to share with us on a regular basis the titles that she has recently added to her list. The theory being that, even if she doesn’t ever get round to reading them, she can perhaps do so vicariously through you… So please do share your opinions of her picks – are they worthy, do you think, of inclusion in that lofty list?

Added to the For Later shelf recently:

Pink Up Your Life: The World of Pink Design
Cover for Pink Up Your LifeEmbarrassing but irresistible. Who knew there was such a thing as Pink Design? I’m game though. “Pink for old and young. Pink for everyone!” Perhaps a pink feature wall is just what I need.

The Hollow of the Hand by P. J. Harvey
Polly’s poetry combines with the images of photographer/film-maker Seamus Murphy to tell the story of their travels around the world between 2011 and 2014. Harvey wanted to “smell the air, feel the soil and meet the people of the countries I was fascinated with”.  Should be interesting.

City on Fire by Garth Risk Hallberg
Cover of City on FireOver 900 pages long – who am I kidding? But this highly hyped first novel is getting mentioned all over the show and the author looks to have good taste. He was in Vogue wearing a Comme de Garçons blazer; he likes Hilary Mantel and Patti Smith and he mentioned Philip Hensher‘s The Northern Clemency in an interview. And City on Fire has been called ‘a punk Bleak House‘.

The Face of Britain: The Nation Through Its Portraits by Simon Schama
Cover of The Face of BritainPortraits and Simon Schama seem like a good match; Schama has a lovely light touch with art and history. This book has been produced to accompany an exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in London where Schama considers what makes a successful portrait, grouping portraits from the gallery’s amazing collection into themes: Power, Love, Fame, Self and People. According to The Times reviewer Schama’s approach here is “not systematic but wonderfully compelling” and the book is “entertaining and idiosyncratic”. Let’s see about that.

Off the shelf (2)

As followers of our blog will know, voracious reader Robyn has been sharing with us on a regular basis the titles that she has been adding to her For Later shelf. This time she reports back on some of the titles that have graduated to her Completed shelf.

An art theme to some books that came off the For Later shelf recently.

Gothic Wonder by Paul Binski
Cover of Gothic WonderA beautiful book. All the images are lovely to look at but my best ones are the gargoyles and the manuscripts. Favourite chapter is called the Pleasures of Unruling, featuring the unforgettable phrase ‘genitalia in marginalia’.  Gothic Churches were so expensive the monks were “very eager to highlight any financially winning miraculous or semi-miraculous events”. Finding a cache of coins was popular – a sure sign that God would provide and it was O.K. to just keep building.

Everything Is Happening by Michael Jacobs
Cover of Everything is HappeningIt’s good to look at things in detail sometimes, but lots of words on lots of pages on one work of art can be very daunting. This look at Velásquez’s painting Las Meninas (‘the maids of honour’ in Spanish) is both detailed and short. But it still manages to say some fresh things about a work that has been analyzed more than most.

Francis Bacon in Your Blood by Michael Peppiatt
Francis Bacon is a great and terrifying artist. He is also reputed to have said: “Champagne for my real friends, real pain for my sham friends”. Two reasons to read a book about him.

What books have moved off your For Later shelf recently?

Looking forward to looking

Cover of The radical, the reactionary and the Canterbury Society of Arts 1880 - 1996On the weekend of the 13th and 14th of February 2016 the Centre of Contemporary Art will re-open in its beautiful ’60s modernist building on Gloucester Street.

Recently Paula Orrell, the new curator of CoCA, gave a talk about what we might see when the doors open to the public for the first time in five years.

Art galleries are places for the curious and there will be plenty to satisfy that curiosity if Orrell’s previous work in the United Kingdom is any indication.

She’s worked with Lucy OrtaSteven ClaydonMatthew Day JacksonEva and Franco Mattes and the starriest of the art stars, Marina Abramovic. Then there are projects like The River Tamar Project.

There will be lots of community involvement at the new CoCA and there will be all kinds of art forms related to the visual arts; film, installation and performance. “Will there still be flat work and sculptural work?” came a nervous question from the audience.

Yes, there will. In fact there will be quite a lot of sculptural work in the opening show, but beyond that Orrell wasn’t giving anything away. We’ll just have to wait and see.

View of Gloucester Street including COCA
View of Gloucester Street including CoCA’s roof [2014]. Flickr 2014-02-21-IMG_2193
In the meantime, listen to Paula Orrell talk about her vision for CoCA.

Swot up on the the history and legacy of the Canterbury Society of Arts in Warren Feeney‘s book The Radical, The Reactionary and the Canterbury Society of Arts 1880 – 1996.

And get ready to see art inside an art gallery in 2016.

The (very) long list

Cover of Every Time a Friend Succeeds Something Inside Me DiesBooks I couldn’t resist adding to the For Later shelf this week.

Every Time a Friend Succeeds Something Inside Me Dies: The Life of Gore Vidal by Jay Parini
Because the title is a deathless quote, because the cover features Gore Vidal with a cat on his shoulder, because the author has written a biography of William Faulkner.

Cover of Vintage Paua Shell JewelleryVintage Paua Shell Jewellery: Art Souvenir, Tourist Kitsch, Kiwi Icon by Elly van de Wijdeven
Because the words vintage, paua shell, art, souvenir, tourist, kitsch and kiwi are irrestistible. Icon is overused. Now where did I store all those collectible fern leaf brooches?

4 Real & True 2: Landscapes, Photographs by Wim Wenders
The great German director turned 70 in August. What better way to celebrate his birthday than by looking at some of the landscapes and images he has chosen to record with his analog camera?

Cover of The Memory of TimeThe Memory of Time: Contemporary Photographs at the National Gallery of Art by Sarah Greenough
Photography’s relationship to time, memory and history investigated by contemporary photographers. The main attraction is Sally Mann, whose Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs is one of my reads of 2015.

Cover of Diversity in Disney FilmsDiversity in Disney Films: Critical Essays on Race, Ethnicity, Gender, Sexuality and Disability
This should be interesting: Disney films explored with perspectives from critical whiteness studies and masculinity studies as well as old style race and gender.

Read my previous posts about the comings and goings on my For Later shelf.

Close your eyes – Michael Robotham is coming to Christchurch

Cover of Close your eyesChristchurch crime fiction fans are in for a treat when Michael Robotham, one of the best crime writers working, visits on Wednesday 26 AugustHe’s coming to Christchurch with his latest book, Close Your Eyes, but he’s got an impressive back list. His books Shatter and Lost won the Ned Kelly Award for Australia’s Crime Novel of the Year – good old Australia – a Crime Novel Award named after a criminal.

Shatter and The Night Ferry were shortlisted for the Crime Writer’s Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award; Say You’re Sorry and Life and Death made it to the shortlist for the Crime Writer’s Golden Dagger Award. We’ll have to wait until September to see if Life and Death wins.

I always like a crime writer who started as a journalist. Even better if they started as a cadet rather than doing a post-graduate degree in Journalism (not that there’s anything wrong with that). It’s just that writers who have had to distill the facts of a story into a small space jostling with lots of other stories know how to grab your interest. And I fondly imagine cadets learning their craft by having their copy scrutinised by cynical hard-bitten reporters squinting through the smoke from the fag permanently attached to their lips. Probably an image that was way out of date when Michael Robotham was working on evening newspapers. If it was ever true. Perhaps I’ll ask him when he comes to Christchurch. I also have a question about going to school in Gungadai.

Event details

An evening with Michael Robotham
Wednesday 26 August 6pm to 7.30pm
South Library
Free event, complimentary tickets can be picked up from South Library or Paper Plus Northlands Mall. Books will be available for purchase courtesy of Paper Plus. For more info or to reserve tickets please call Kathryn Hartley Ph: 03 941 6649 or email:kathryn.hartley@ccc.govt.nz

Michael Robotham: ghosting and crime Michael on Saturday Morning with Kim Hill, Radio New Zealand National, 15 August.

Hear Graham Beattie’s review of Close your eyes on Nine to Noon, Radio New Zealand National, 12 August.

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Happy birthday, Andy Warhol

In the future everybody will be world famous for 15 minutes.

Cover of Regarding Warhol Sixty Artists Fifty Years The man who could see into the future of The X Factor, Real Housewives, Come Dine With Me (insert your best or worst Reality Show here) was born on the 6th of August 1928. Or was he? For years there was confusion about exactly where and when he was born. After all he once said “I’d prefer to remain a mystery, I never give my background and, anyway, I make it all up different every time I’m asked.”

It doesn’t really matter whether we have the right date, what matters is that we do celebrate
one of the most influential artists of the 20th century.

There’s lots of stuff to read about Warhol and his art, but for a real sense of the man you can’t go past A: A novel a book he ‘wrote’ himself. Actually it’s transcripts of taped conversations he had with one of the Factory Superstars. And it’s hilarious, although calling it a novel is probably a bit of a stretch. It has been called Warhol’s Ulysses; at least I did manage to finish it, something I have never achieved with James Joyce’s Ulysses.

IntereCover of Warhol's Americast in Warhol doesn’t wane; the latest trend is to pair him with other artists who don’t seem to be a natural match but turn out to be once the clever curators explain it all. Love is Enough is a show that looked at the similarities between Warhol and William Morris  – repetition and celebrity apparently.

Next year there will be a big show at the NGV in Melbourne of Warhol and Ai Wei Wei. They share a liking for cats, but I’m sure there’s more to it than that.

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Killing Jokes

The Court TheatreSome reasons to see The Ladykillers at the Court Theatre.

  • The cast. You’re in safe hands with these old hands. Actually they’re not old hands, they’re experienced hands. And experience counts. It’s unfair to single anyone out they are so uniformly good, but Rima Te Wiata as Mrs Wilberforce, “the wraith in a pinny” is outstanding. Especially her feet. They have a life of their own. You’ll have to see it to see what I mean.
  • The bits of business. Stepping on a scarf, straightening a picture, being hit on the head with a rotating blackboard – yes it’s slapstick but there is still a place in the theatre for slapstick done well. Surely.
  • The parrot. You never see him but you don’t need to. Imagining a diseased washing-up glove is better (or worse) than seeing one.
  • The script. Based on the Ealing classic film of 1955, the play is written by Graham Linehan, who wrote or co-wrote  Father Ted, Black Books and The IT crowd. No more needs to be said.
  • The set.  It’s a  masterpiece of ramshackle precision used to great effect by actors who never put a foot wrong. And it’s so very Christchurch.

A real treat in a cold winter.

Happy birthday, Emily Brontë

Cover of Wuthering HeightsOh Emily. Your creations and their goings-on out on that moor have captured the imaginations of millions of women everywhere. And more than a few men I guess, although I’ve never met one.

You only lived for thirty years but Cathy and Heathcliff (and Linton and Isabella and Edgar and Hareton and Nelly) are immortal.

Even your possessions still fascinate.

Here’s to you, and to Wuthering Heights, and thanks for one of my favourite books.

Giddying up

Cover for PurityAvid readers know that nervous start you get when you find out a favourite author has written a new book but you didn’t know about it. Or perhaps that’s just me. Addiction is the a-word that applies, not avid.

Anyway imagine my dismay when I noticed that Jonathan Franzen has a new book and I did not know about it. Which means there are four people ahead of me on the Holds list for Purity

So in order to help my fellow addicts (I mean avid readers) I am alerting you to the following books by popular authors on order at Christchurch City Libraries. Get your name down now and avoid disappointment. You’ll never be higher on the list.

Killing Monica by Candace Bushnell. Fiction or thinly veiled fact about Sex and the City? “If you think that you’re just cray-cray” says Bushnell. You be the judge.

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. Eat Pray Love. And Read.

The Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman. Paris, Pissaro, passion. Good old Alice.

The story of the lost child by Elena Ferrante. The fourth in the Neapolitan novels.

Above the Waterfall by Ron Rash. He’s not as popular as he should be. Now is the time to redress that.

Speaking in Bones by Kathy Reichs. Her 18th outing. She must be doing something right.

All the Stars in the Heavens by Adriana Trigiani. Adriana’s take on the Golden Age of Hollywood.

Cover of Killing MonicaCover of The marriage of oppositesCover for Speaking in BonesCover of Above the waterfall

Beautiful Burlap

I need a hobby. A creative hobby. I am feeling the “desire to be a clothing designer or an artist (one who doesn’t draw or paint or sew)” to quote Heidi Julavits in The Folded Clock: A Diary.

Cover of The Origami HomeThe library seems the logical place to look for inspiration to set me on my true creative path. But I don’t think just taking books home and being daunted by them will do it.

The Origami Home – exquisite but, honestly, the instructions. “Fold the left, right and lower edges in. At the same time, fold in the corners (a).” At the same time? Are you joking me?

So no to origami miniature design furniture.

Cover for Burlap BoutiqueBurlap could be the answer to my hobby needs. Beautiful Burlap: Cute Accessories to Create and Stitch and Burlap Boutique: Charming Accent Wreaths and Home Decor. ‘Cute’ and ‘charming’ – a bit off-putting, but my front door is worryingly bereft of an accent wreath and burlap sounds more forgiving than origami paper. Also it is a very pleasing word. Burlap. Much better than Hessian. Or Sacking. Are they the same thing? On to the For Later shelf they go.

Cover of Viktor Wynd's Cabinet of WondersA recent mover from the For Later List to the In Progress shelf provides some hope that I can become creative with very little effort. Viktor Wynd’s Cabinet of Wonders has thrilling chapters such as “The Collector as Artist”, and its even better companion “On the Joys of Mess”. Apparently finding and installing is as creative as actually making.

According to good old Viktor, “Collecting as an art form in in its own right is rarely given much thought.” So endless fossicking through every second-hand shop that presents itself is creative. Who knew?

I’m still going to investigate the burlap though.