Open for business – an interview with Lara Strongman, Christchurch Art Gallery

The Christchurch Art Gallery re-opened on Saturday 19 December 2015, and has had record visit numbers ever since. Their latest publication is 101 works of art, beautifully designed by Aaron Beehre, features texts by Lara Strongman, Ken Hall, Felicity Milburn, Nathan Pohio, Peter Vangioni and Jenny Harper.

101 works of art book - Christchurch Art Gallery
101 works of art. Flickr 2016-01-15-IMG_2051

Lara Strongman

Lara Strongman is the senior curator of the Christchurch Art Gallery, and I talked to her about the re-opening.

Now that the Gallery is open again, what’s your feeling as to how people are using and enjoying it?

I’m a little surprised—but very moved—by the deeply emotional response people are having to the re-opening. There have been many people in tears. It’s not just that they are seeing the works they’ve missed over the past five years, it’s what it means to them to be seeing the gallery open again.

There have been many unsolicited hugs for Jenny (the Art Gallery director).

I’ve noticed lots of teenagers coming through, as well as families and international visitors. Wayne Youle’s postcard project has people sending messages all round the world to tell people to come and visit, as well as Christchurch people sending them to other family members.

Parents are showing young children works they haven’t seen, but which were very familiar to their parents. (There’s a half generation of kids who’ve never visited the gallery, or who were too young at the time of the earthquakes to remember.) There are loads of old favourites on show, but also works that are new to everyone – Unseen and The Newest new world are examples. People are also discovering unexpected connections between works:

When the Gallery was closed, you all branched out – blogging, social media, exhibitions in different places and out on the streets, will these things still play a role? How has being closed changed the Gallery?

Now we’re open again, we’ve brought the Outer Spaces projects back into the proximity of the gallery. While we were shut, we went out into the city, and in the process learned a great deal about putting different kinds of art into public spaces. Now we’re commissioning new works for unexpected spaces around the gallery building and concourse. We’re calling them Other Spaces.

What’s coming up?

Local artist Tony de Lautour is painting a new work on the Bunker building out the front of the gallery that will be open for Waitangi weekend. We’re also opening our final summer exhibition, Op and Pop. There’s a massive interactive work called Tangle on the forecourt, especially for kids and families over the weekend. And I understand there’s going to be free gelato again, courtesy of our friends at NZI.

Over this year, our collection shows will be constantly changing. And I’m really looking forward to A Beautiful Hesitation, the survey exhibition by Ngai Tahu artist Fiona Pardington coming up mid year.

Christchurch Art Gallery
Christchurch Art Gallery reopening weekend, Sunday 20 December 2015. Flickr 2015-12-20-IMG_1713

What do you think about libraries?

I love libraries! They’re my second favourite places, after art galleries. Curators spend a lot of time in libraries, doing research. And I really admire Christchurch City Libraries: the way they’re continuously innovative and put people first.

The Gallery’s librarian Tim Jones deals with a lot of research enquiries, including some extremely obscure ones. There is sharing of archival information around the world, which helps fill in gaps in understanding. By putting works online, unknown works start to be identified and our knowledge of the collection is made richer and more complex.

You also have another gig, doing tv reviews on Radio New Zealand. What are your picks?

This summer I’m going to do a rewatch of Deadwood (my favourite show). I hear there’s a telemovie coming out that will tie up the loose ends.
Season 2 of Catastrophe: it’s quite rude but very funny.
And I’ve been watching Luther from the beginning — I like watching an episode each evening and becoming immersed in the story, as if you’re reading a chapter each night. It’s a very bookish way of watching telly.

Thanks to Lara, and to the Christchurch Art Gallery.

Read more

Read articles and interviews by Lara on the Christchurch Art Gallery website, including:

You can also find works by Lara Strongman in our collection.

Christchurch Art Gallery photos

The newest new world by Pip & Pop
The newest new world by Pip & Pop, Flickr 2015-12-20-IMG_1690
Sign
Christchurch Art Gallery reopening weekend, Sunday 20 December 2015. Flickr 2015-12-20-IMG_1673

Find more on our page on art.

The gift of failure

fat Forty and FiredJanuary has come and gone. And maybe you find that (despite your New Year’s Resolutions), you still feel depressingly like Nigel Marsh in his book Fat, Forty and Fired. If that makes you feel like a bit of a failure, could be you’re looking at this all wrong. Because failing is the new way to go.

It is hard to believe, but recent research is emphatic – we learn our best and most important lessons from our failures and not from our successes. Have a look at this list of recent reads on Failing.

The gift of failureAn excellent place to start is with The Gift of Failure by Jessica Lahey. Published late in 2015, Lahey’s book focuses attention on how we raise our children. Sub-titled How The Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children can Succeed, adults will also learn a lot from Lahey’s clear message: allow your kids (and yourself) to make mistakes.

Another good read is The Rise by Sarah Lewis who approaches the topic of failure by researching the achievements of Nobel prize-winners, successful entrepreneurs and creative artists, and comparing these with their early “failures”. Her message is clear, we need to “converse with our failures”.

The art of mistakesI remember a time, way back, when I had lost my job; was living a great distance from my family; didn’t appear to have a single creative thought to spare; kept clinging to a relationship that was long since over, and to top it all I was sporting the worst hairstyle … ever. What is more, like most of us, I was trying to make sense of it all by utilising The Power of Positive Thinking.

And it’s not that I want to knock Positive Thinking, it has served me very well. But I like the idea that there are other approaches I can take when things go wrong – which they surely will.

And these books made me look at my failures with new eyes, made me feel that instead I could be Fit Fifty and Fired Up. And that would make 2016 a very good year indeed!

Abandoned places & Bio art: Cool picks from the selectors

Abandoned Places: 60 Stories of Places Where Time Stood Still.Cover

Illustrated liberally and with short articles this is a great book for the armchair traveller. Chernobyl is of course featured, but there are a surprisingly large amount of places that have been abandoned because of environmental disasters as well as urban migration.  Interestingly Waiuta in New Zealand is included, one of the small towns abandoned after the gold rush. With haunting photographs this is an ideal book for flicking through and choosing places that are of interest, and perhaps you might even get some ideas for your next trip overseas!

CoverBio Art: Altered Realities

Featuring artists work from all over the world,  this is also an easy book to pick up and flick through to find a piece of work that takes your fancy.  The amount of art representing the biological sciences is about as broad and never ending as nature itself.  Some are environmental protest pieces, others are representations of science itself. Well illustrated with informative articles on each artist.

CoverBeyond Belief: Racist, Sexist, Rude, Crude and Dishonest. The Golden Age of Madison Avenue

The titles says it all!  Examples from the 195’s advertising world featuring some nasty advertising for soap (suggesting that a black child needs to wash more),  how smoking Camel cigarettes can cure throat irritation, and Valium can restore cheerfulness and optimism alongside plenty of examples of how women can catch a man….

Beautiful but dumb.  She has never learnt the first rule of lasting charm. A long lasting deodorant.  People on the go use ODO.RO.NO

CoverSeven Brief Lessons on Physics

Physics is not usually considered an easy read, but this title is promoted as “playful, entertaining and mindbending”.

In under 100 pages all those questions about modern physics that have been keeping you awake at night are answered!

 

 

eResources for those facing the return to school!

No tween or teen wants to think about how quickly the new school term has arrived. Well too bad. As someone who gets four weeks holiday a year, I am struggling to feel sorry for you. Despite this I believe those who say your school years are the best years of your life are liars. They are the best years only if you like feeling socially, physically and intellectually inadequate! Well I can’t improve your social standing or your body parts as I remain even now socially awkward with love handles, but I can help you out in the intellectual category by pointing you in the right direction.

Central Library Peterborough

Your library loves you and wants to help so that is why we provide a multitude of eResources designed to aid you in any known subject. These eResources are mobile friendly and available 24/7. So if you have stuffed around to the last moment and it is the night before do not stress as we have what you need for your homework needs. For example we have:

  • SmartMath Practice – a game like interface to help 6-14 year olds to improve their math skills with activities, tests and quizzes. Actually I am 40 years old and I learned from this;

Or maybe you prefer Google?

Well more fool you. If you want to head upwards in the intellect category then this is not the place to start. Luckily if a one stop shop is your thing then we have eResources Discovery Search which basically searches across most of the eResources we subscribe to in one single search. So it is like Google, but without the weirdos, liars and nudey bits.

Have a look at these tools and remember life thankfully does get better after your school years. You may get less holidays but you know where you can go for answers (the local library) and where to go if you feel socially awkward or bloated (the pub)  (the local library).

What was popular in 2015?

Cover of Through the seasons: The free range cookYou may have read recently in the media about the top titles borrowed from Christchurch City Libraries in 2015, but that just scratches the tip of the iceberg. We’ve got even more to share with you.

If the publishing industry is a literary popularity contest then these titles from our library collection are the cool kids in school.

In non-fiction last year food and health were the overriding themes. Last year’s king of the culinary castle, Simon Gault was ousted by kitchen queen Annabel Langbein in 2015 with her Through the seasons: The free range cook taking out top spot.

Honorable mention must go to Dr Libby Weaver for appearing no less than 5 times in the top 10 non-fiction.

Cover of PersonalIn fiction, Personal by Lee Child finally made the top spot after getting pipped at the post in 2014.

Mysteries, thrillers and suspense titles continue to be popular and is reflected in the most popular authors for adults list which for the second year in a row was topped by James Patterson, but there’s still ran audience for perennial favourites like Danielle Steel, and even more perennial Agatha Christie, whose popularity continues unabated.

Novels by Lee Child also make a strong showing in the top eBooks list (5 times in the top 20), though the number one spot goes to Eyes on you by Kate White.

The most popular eAudiobook was cross-generational film-franchise juggernaut The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, with the three books of the series taking out the top three spots.

In fact, books with successful movie tie-ins made up a whopping 14 out of the top 20 eAudiobooks, showing that fans of franchises like Harry Potter, and the Divergent series aren’t solely interested in the visual part of “audiovisual”.

Cover of We're going on a bear huntIn kids books, again classic titles were very popular with Michael Rosen’s We’re going on a bear hunt, originally published in 1989, continuing to find an audience and securing the number one slot.

Geronimo Stilton featured strongly in the most popular kids’ titles and was the overall most popular author of children’s books whilst still leaving room for old favourites like Enid Blyton, Dr Suess and Margaret Mahy.

For teens The maze runner by James Dashner was the most popular fiction title with several other “books of the movie” also appearing in the teens top 20.

Top of the top titles

Cover of Cross Justice by James Patterson    Cover pf The race against time by Geronimo Stilton Cover of The maze runner Cover of Eyes on you Cover of The hunger games

See more annual lists of popular titles.

The most popular items in our collection

2016년의 태양이 더 크게 웃는 이유는?

항상 되풀이되 듯 연초가 되면 새로운 다짐과 함께 많은 계획을 세우게 됩니다. 물론 이 맘때 쯤이면 작심 3일이 되기도 하지요. 다시 한번 마음을 다 잡고 머리를 흔들어 봅니다. 오롯이 이것 하나는 지켜야 겠습니다. 그 어느 해 보다 많이 웃으며 살기!

새로이 소개 할 책입니다.

누리야 누리야 – 1994년에 ‘누리야 누리야 뭐하니’ 라는 제목으로 출간된 후 2015년에 네 번째 재간된 작가 양귀자의 유일한 어린이 장편 소설입니다. 나 누리라는 아홉살 소녀가 엄마를 찾아나서며 만나는 세상의 양면, 그 이야기하는 책입니다. 힘겨운 현실에도 따뜻한 마음을 가지고, 자존감을 지키며 강하게 살아가는 주인공 누리는  읽는 내내 먹먹하던 가슴에 결국 눈물을 흘리게합니다. 이 책은 Upper Riccarton 도서관에서 만날 수 있습니다.

감성현 작가의 감성 SF 소설 ‘19 씩씩하게 아픈 열아홉‘은 우리 주변의 많은 루다와 다해들, 그들이 꿈을 향해 달리다 좌절하고 다시 일어서는 청춘의 이야기입니다. – 어른도 아이도 아닌 열아홉, 달리기를 좋아하던 난, 열 아홉 살이 되던 해, 더 이상 달랄 수 없게 되었다………기억할게. 내 첫 기억. 내 기억의 끝까지. 달려 루다. 멈추지 말고, 끝까지 달려 – 본문 중에서.

평양의 영어 선생님 – 재미 작가 수키 킴의 ’Without you there is no us’ 의 번역서입니다.  평양과학기술대학에서 학생들에게 영어를 가르치며 그녀가 진실로 원했던, 북한의 실상을 직접 보고 느낀 것을 책으로펴냈습니다.

가족 또는 주변 친구분이 아직 Christchurch City도서관 카드가 없으시다면 도서관 카드를 권해보세요. 올2016년을 도서관과 함께  보다 더 행복하고 건강한 시간이 되시길 바람니다.

Korean books
Korean books. January 2016. Flickr 2016-01-IMG-0170

Sick bags and bedspreads: New titles from our Literature Selector

The Bloomsbury set just keep on delivering. Hard on the heels of the TV series (yet to be seen here) about the sexy carryings on of the Bloomsbury set comes a new biography of David Garnett called Bloomsbury’s Outsider. Garnett – scientist, writer, free love enthusiast, conscientious objector in WW1 and spy in WW2 – certainly had an interesting life which is covered in this new book.

Cover Cover Cover Cover

Some centuries back and we are in the world of Ancient Rome and Daisy Dunn, in a new biography, Catullus’ bedspread : the life of Rome’s most erotic poet, which looks at the life and poetry of the Catullus who put it about more than a bit.

More contemporary, but still not one for being prim, is Nick Cave whose new book The Sick Bag Song is described as a narrative song and poetry. It started its literary life being scribbled on airplane sick bags during a tour of America.

And the master of all writers, Mr Shakespeare himself, is covered in  a new biography called Worlds Elsewhere which has had enthusiastic pre-publicity from the likes of Anthony Holden and Margaret Drabble.

See more of our new titles.

Philip Tew
Fiction selector

The waywardness of the holiday reader

The first thing you seeI boarded the plane at the start of the hols with lists of Books That Must Be Read Now That I have The Time and stepped off QF139 a month later with a suitcase full of Books That Popped Up Quite By Chance. Here’s how it happened:

Even though my hand luggage contained a perfectly good aeroplane read, still the lure of Sydney Airport book store was too great to resist and I emerged with a book that I bought mainly because I love the cover and it has a compelling first sentence: “Arthur Dreyfuss liked big breasts.” It’s Gregoire Delacourt’s latest novel: the first thing you see and it turned out to be a perfect holiday read about looking beneath the surface – for the first thing you see isn’t always what you’d hoped to get.

The Carriage HouseI met my second holiday read in a bookshop attached to a café in my hometown – Durban. There is a happy sentence if ever there was one. It was a complete impulse buy, written by an author I’d never heard of (turns out it’s her first novel), with tennis (a game I deeply loathe) as a major theme, and about three sisters (I don’t even have one). Yet its siren call sucked me in, all within the space of a single cappuccino. The book is The Carriage House by Louisa Hall. Don’t be put off by the cover of the library copy, it is a great little holiday read.

GironimoMy third little find was at a local market in a small town on the west coast of South Africa at a second-hand book stall where, to my amazement, I spotted a book that more than one male colleague had recommended to me. (I have no idea why they would do this, as I have never ridden a bicycle in my life!) Gironimo by Tim Moore is the author’s reaction to the Lance Armstrong debacle which motivated Moore to redress the imbalance and do something totally authentic for cycling – ride the notorious 1914 Giro d’Italia (wearing period clothing) on a gearless, wooden-wheeled 1914 road bike:

What unfolds is the tale of one decrepit crock trying to ride another up a thousand lonely hills, then down them with only wine corks for brakes

So, like all good holidays, I started in one place and ended up somewhere completely different. I went with the flow. I was in the zone. And I had a terrific time.

Now back to my lists!

In which Katherine indulges her weakness for Lord Byron

Cover of Selected poems, Lord ByronIt is always a great feeling to discover a book that you didn’t really know anything about before you picked it up and find that you can’t put it down. Recently a new book, Lady Helen and the Dark Days Club caught my eye. The synopsis looked promising – young adult urban fantasy set in Regency London, and it involved Lord Byron (always a plus in my book).

I simply could not put it down, yet at the same time I didn’t want it to finish – the curse of many a good book. The plot isn’t terribly original (sparky heroine discovers she has special powers and is introduced to a secret supernatural underworld), there are many familiar tropes (tortured, but dashingly attractive Byronic hero etc), but the quality of the writing and the attention to period detail – such as the inclusion of the real life assassination of the British Prime Minister Spencer Perceval – in the setting make for an excellent read.

Young adult urban fantasy is an extremely popular genre (see Twilight, Fallen, Vampire Academy etc, as is Georgian / Regency fiction like Georgette Heyer, and Jane Austen and her imitators, so it is kind of fun for an author to mash up these genres to create something that is both familiar and fresh. And which uses words like ‘gallivanting’ and ‘fornication’.

Muscle Car Madness this weekend

Cover of Road hogsIt’s my favourite time of year when petrolheads get together to ogle the sights of the Muscle Car Madness at Rangiora Showgrounds this Saturday and Sunday.

The variety of cars, vans, utes and even motorbikes is phenomenal. So get your black t-shirt on and join us there!