Thursday, May 1, 2014

Huriawa Peninsula, Karitane. The Waka Haunui. Celestial Bodies seen through blurred sight. A grumbling Thumb. And a Sink!

Huriawa Peninsula marks the southern end of the bay near which we live. The rock and clay that are the bones of this land are laid bare by wind and rain, and the lashing and pounding of sea.

I always have a sense of upheaval when I visit this place. The rock is tumbled, wrinkled, and twisted by huge forces. It is a work in progress, with the makers tools scattered around.

This is a place of rare beauty. It is a beauty that has great physicality, it is not just something that you look at and admire, it is a beauty that you get involved in.

Maori lived here, and Maori fought Maori. This peninsula was put to siege and held for six months. There is an interesting account of this written by James Cowan that Victoria University, Wellington, New Zealand, have put on line The Stealing of an Atua. - A Tradition of the Otago Coast. Later European whalers came here. They dragged the whales up against the shore and butchered them. In the 1830s this was a whaling station.

I imagine that most of the whales were hunted out of these waters, but in recent years whales have been seen in the bay.

We visited last Saturday. The sun was out and hung low in the sky, and the wind was cool and strong. Clouds trawled deep purple and grey shadows over the sea, and everything was in motion, waves, wheeling sea birds, tussock grasses, and the flicker of light reflected off water.

It is often said that the sea is a mirror of the sky, but here I think the sea is a mirror of the wind, making visible the invisible!

We had come to see a double hulled waka that was visiting Karitane. I had hoped that it would have been tied up in the estuary where it would have been closer, but it was some distance from us in the bay itself. Maybe the river current, high tide, and the strong wind was a problem and this mooring was judged to be more secure.

This waka is named Haunui, and Haunui has covered many thousands of nautical miles voyaging around the Pacific promoting waka knowledge. The waka (or vaka) is one of a fleet of 7 that have been made by a group of Pacific Islanders from many nations. It is likely that it has been more than 100 years since Karitane was last visited by a double hulled ocean going waka, so this is a rare sight indeed.

Pacific Voyagers Foundation have an interesting web site with photos, videos, and lots of information about the waka, and the purpose of the voyage.

Keeping crafts and traditions alive is something that potters are good at too!  I think our craft also shares something deeper than just "how to make a cup in 7 easy steps", there is a mystery entered into when hands touch clay. A sense of being part of a long history, and of being a part of creation. A worker with clay makes something that may have a life of thousands of years..., it is quite a thought!

At the same time that the waka visited, the moon and Venus were making an attractive sight in the pre-dawn sky.

Armed with my cheap and cheerful camera, and some early morning enthusiasm, I attempted to take a photo of Venus, and a photo of the moon. I was astonished to see what appeared to be surface details on Venus, and even a strong suggestion of an atmosphere!

Some shaking as I pressed the shutter gave my photo of the moon extra drama! The moon looks like it is in the process of being devoured by the sun, rather than just lit up by it.

With newly kindled enthusiasm for taking photos of celestial bodies, I downloaded Stellarium, a really nice opensource planetarium that I think will run on most computer systems (mine is Linux). With Stellarium's help I confirmed that I had taken a photo of Venus, I originally thought I was looking at Jupiter!!! :), and I discovered that Mars and Saturn would be visible from our back door step at about 10pm that evening.

Well, Mars appeared exactly where Stellarium said it would, and I took a shot or two or three of it with my #@!~ hard to focus camera! (my evening temper was less accommodating than my morning one, and some bad words were said in the making of the following photo!)

Well, not only did Mars appear exactly where it was supposed to, but the photo that my camera took was almost exactly the same as the one it took of Venus! The "atmosphere" and surface details, were strikingly similar!  Oh well, unless Mars and Venus are actually clones...  I think most of what I was seeing were the defects of my camera lens, but it was fun anyway!

I have been bisque firing more pots, and also doing a little more glazing and firing. I have had a problem for the last few weeks in that I had a split thumb nail and infection beneath it. Antibiotics did not cure things, so about a quarter of the thumb nail had to be removed. Unfortunately infections have continued, and I am starting my second course of antibiotics after the nail removal (there were 2 more courses of antibiotics in the 3 months prior to the nail coming off.....). Needless to say, I cannot work with clay on the wheel at the moment, but I can still do a bit of glazing with gloves on. To be honest I am starting to get a bit frustrated with things! I got these teapots assembled the day before I had the surgery on the thumb.

Anyway, once I could cope with wearing gloves so I could do some glazing, I managed to get a commission finished. This was a bathroom washbasin, and it has now gone to its new home!

The porcelain washbasin measures about 13.5 inches diameter (340mm), and I made two of them so that I could be sure that one would turn out! They both did, so if we don't get a buyer for the second one soon, the basin will probably end up replacing an ancient cracked one that we have in our bathroom.

Goodness,  long post! Congratulations if you have read this far! :)


Melissa Rohrer said...

Truly is a place of rare beauty. I always enjoy seeing your part of the world.
Sorry about the injury. Must be especially frustrating after all the time spent dealing with the back problem.

srgb said...

Nice tea pots Peter, and those views are to kill for, I will be telling myself a view is a view over the coming weekend when I am wandering around our local coastline.
Sad about the thumb Peter it would be so nice to be able to take it away from you, you know what I mean take it away so you can get on maybe give it back when you stop for a cup of tea or when you sleep but us guys just have to get on, well I hope you find a way to deal with it and not get too frustrated.
Always nice to read your posts Peter

Christine said...

Not caught up on blog land for ages Peter! Those landscape photos are extraordinary- as though you have put a colour filter on the camera. The sea is SO-O blue! And the boat, it reminds me of old tinted postcards. Quite beautiful. I am sorry to read about the thumb infection. What a bind, any cut or nail problem is a potential problem- clay must be full of bacteria. So yet more patience. Potters and cats have much in common.

Pat - Arkansas said...

I greatly enjoyed your "long post." What a gorgeous section of our Earth is almost at your doorstep! The photos are wonderful. The double-hulled waka was a treat to see; thanks for the photos and information.
I hope your thumb gets well soon.

Arkansas Patti said...

I have never seen a coast line like the. Just beautiful. I have lived on the beach areas of the US. A rocky, cliff driven coast line is much more interesting.
I loved your phrase regarding the wind upon the sea--- "making visible the invisible". Wonderful visual of the wind.
Lovely post Peter.

Sandy miller said...

Wow, what a grand tour this morning Peter, beautiful! Love the boats!

Thanks so much for the link! What a fantastic site, as I seem to spend a great deal of time looking up :)

The pot-scape is lovely ........

Hope the thumb heals quickly!

Anonymous said...

What a privilege it is to have an artist for a son!
Your superb photos and poetic prose really capture something of the wonder that IS Karitane!
Thank you Peter... when are you going to write that book?
I love the shapes and curves of the teapots too - and so glad the sinks have turned out so well.

Sue said...

I'm in agreement with your dad about the book. You have a way with words and the photography is stunning!
I am always amazed each time I see what you have done.

Peter said...

Hi Melissa,
Thank you for your kind comment. You are right about the frustration of the thumb after the back problem, I so much would like a big chunk of time where I could work without something getting in the way, but we are so fortunate being in a beautiful area, with the beach to walk on, and the hills to look at! All that really helps!

Hello Bob,
Hope you are having a great time walking your coastline this weekend, and you have similar weather to us.. it is a lovely autumn day here, all still and clear with a gentle blue sky above.
Thank you for the thoughts regarding the thumb, I wish I could send it to a health resort somewhere for some R&R, and have it return to me all tanned and pampered and excited to get in the clay again! :)

Hello Christine,
Lovely to hear from you all the way from sunny Scotland. It will be spring in your part of the world, and bluebells in the woods perhaps? Speaking of "blue", no blue filter was used in the taking of the photos, but I do quite a bit of work with photos on the computer, mostly playing with contrast and recovering detail in parts that are washed out or too dark. The original photos as they came from the camera were really quite poor that day, as the strong light and high contrast really made it struggle! In the end I try to rescue what I can and make something out of it that gives a feeling of the place, much like I did in the "old days" when I was a painter!

Hi Pat,
We were lucky to have a glimpse of the waka, such vessels must have made a fine sight hundreds of years ago when they were more common here. I found I appreciated it a lot more after having a read of the information about it online.

Hi Patti,
One of the fascinating things about the coast here is how much it changes in character from one place to another. Each bay seems to have a different personality. I really must do a trip one day taking photos up our bit of coast and try and capture a sample of its many faces!
"Making visible the invisible", is an idea borrowed from the writings of an Italian painter, Cennino d'Andrea Cennini (c. 1370 - c. 1440). He wrote a handbook for artists "Il libro dell'arte" that begins with some thoughts about the role, or purpose, of an artist. "Making the invisible, visible" is at the core of what an artist does, according to Cennini, and it is a wonderful thought, and it came to me again when I saw the sea, and the way that the wind is made visible by it!

Hi Sandy,
Good to hear from you, and good to hear that you followed the link. The internet can take us on interesting voyages sometimes as we travel from one site to another!

Hello Dad,
Lovely to hear from you! Hum..., "the book"... well, maybe! It is lovely to share something of the Karitane area on the blog, it is a special place.
Glad you like the teapots, I am looking forward to getting those glazed and finished. They always are an interesting challenge, form and function and all that with a splash of art thrown in!
Must away now and go rat hunting in the roof! Isn't home ownership fun!!!

Peter said...

Hi Sue,
Good to hear from you. You must have been writing when I was replying to comments so I missed your comment coming in! Ah yes... the book! Thank you for the encouragement regarding words and photos, maybe I should really do something about it!

Armelle Léon said...

Bonjour Peter,
What a beautiful place !!! Wonderful photos of the sea and sky and the coast. Sorry to know you have had a nail surgery, I hope you will be better soon. Thank you for your nice post Peter, I can imagine the whale in the bay and the wind blowing.

Peter said...

Bonjour Armelle,
Good to hear from you. I would love to see a whale in the bay. There have been at least two sightings over recent years, and many people in the village saw the whales. Sadly, I did not know until after the event each time!

Sue said...

I was about to write "Yes you should" regarding the book. But its not for anyone else to give you any Shoulds. The book, or books, will happen if and when they're meant to.
Just keep on enjoying life, and amazing us with your blog.