When I visited the exhibition at Manu Berry's studio at 140 George Street, Dunedin, I found Manu drawing on a large sheet of paper with some sort of charcoal. The faces of an elderly couple emerged from the whiteness of the paper, then their shoulders and the rest of them down to their feet. The process happened rapidly, and Manu seemed to move with the lightness and ease of a dancer in front of his drawing. The couple are a study for some work that Manu is doing that will be part of an exhibition that will mark the 150th anniversary of Otago's Gold Rush. The exhibition will be held at Bellamy's Gallery, Macandrew Bay, Dunedin.
Other celebrations in Dunedin are planned for this coming Friday and the weekend. An article written by Nigel Benson in the Otago Daily Times of 16th March, "Octagon to be turned into a shantytown for celebration", outlines some of the events that are planned.
The exhibition that I had with Manu finished yesterday, and I will be picking up work from it this afternoon all going well. The last time I posted on my blog I promised some images of Manu's work at the exhibition, so here is a little taste of it. Photos of individual works at the exhibition really do not do them justice, as you really had to walk amongst the suspended prints to get a sense the suggestion of air, cloud, and space that they projected.
Do I have favourites? Yes, and you probably do too! I enjoyed the huge scale of the large prints, and the environment that they were part creating in the gallery. It is good to see Manu pushing the boundaries of technique, printing on both sides of the canvas, hanging work from wires across the studio. It makes him progress further, and makes progress possible for others too. For me, my favourite print in the whole exhibition was probably the small wood cut that Manu made of the view out of a window with a teapot and a vase of flowers on the windowsill. I am the sort of person who likes to look out of windows, over chimneys, roof tops, and back yards of shops, and discover beauty there.
We are in a state of shock here. The news from Japan is so awful and relentless. One after another, we have had the cyclone in Australia, the earthquake in Canterbury, and now the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear catastrophe in Japan.
Commentators writing safely from distant parts of the globe will make of it what they will, but for the people caught up in the dust and dirt, the smells, danger and fright of the situation, then other values are more important. I think that a common thread ran through accounts of the Canterbury earthquake, was the importance of family. For many, that is where their first, and possibly their last, thoughts lay. I was moved to read Euan Craig's first hand account of the Japanese earthquake in his blog "Euan The Potter. Born in Australia, Made in Japan". I have also put a link to his site with the other links on the right of my blog.
I will finish with some photos of the coast a few miles North of where we live. I took them on a happier day on the Sunday morning after the opening of my exhibition with Manu. Laura and I took a couple of hours off to get some fresh air. The hill with the point in the background of the first photo is called Puketapu (sacred hill) and the town of Palmerston is at its feet.