Monday, April 26, 2010

the vagina monologues

Last week I went to The Vagina Monologues by Eva Ensler at the Maidment Theatre. I went with a group to support our friend, Chantelle, who was acting in the play. She's the gorgeous blonde at the back on the right. I wasn't sure what to expect and was a little nervous about the content. I was also wondering how you could make a whole play about vaginas. We settled into our seats, then the lights went down. There was some nervous giggling.... from me! The naughty side of me surfaced with a sudden desire to call out "penis!" I resisted it and so the play began.

There were stories of all sorts of women's experiences from countries all round the world. Women of all ages and racial backgrounds were represented. Their stories, whilst related to their vaginas in some way, ranged over a wide range of topics - sex, love, loss, mutilation, rape, menstruation, birth, orgasm, empowerment, names and the physical nature of the vagina. The stories were funny, moving, sad, poignant, heartbreaking, sometimes a little scary and sometimes a little too much information.

Several have left a lasting impression on me. The lovely 72 year old lady's story that had me laughing and crying and wishing that her experience could have been different.... that she could have seen what a beautiful person she was.... sad that her sense of loss had coloured her whole life and how she felt about herself. What a waste!

Also the young woman from Kosovo who was a victim of war, where soldiers used rape systematically as a weapon of warfare. Her optimistic hopes and experiences of romantic love contrasted to her experiences of violation, mutilation, torture and the loss of her innocence. Heartbreaking and unimaginable. So overwhelming. I am crying as I write about it.

Then there was one woman's story about Bob and his adoration for her, all of her! So funny but also empowering, helping her to really love and appreciate herself.

Chantelle was very impressive, especially as an angry vagina assaulted by tampons, douches..... We were all laughing. These are common experiences that women deal with on a daily basis.

One story was momentus not so much for it's content but that it made one older lady behind us moan spontaneously! She said it just came out.... that she couldn't help it. That was a little scary!

I came away with a lot to think about. I think that the overriding theme was not really vaginas but that as women we have universal experiences and feelings.... that it's important to talk about them, to open up, share and listen to each other.... that with that comes empathy and understanding.... a real sense of embracing each other as women and that is empowering!

Friday, April 16, 2010

last ride in a hot air balloon

Yesterday Beth and I went on an excursion that involved a day of art, to replenish the mind and spirit, and frequent stops for delicious food and coffee, to replenish the body and lift the energy levels! We visited a variety of galleries in the central city that are participating in the 4th Auckland Triennial - Last Ride in a Hot Air Balloon. Curator Natasha Conland writes that "adventure and it's incumbent risk has been central to modernity's geographic and economic expansion. But are also vital to it's exploration of the mind, the body and society at large." Artists from all over the world were invited to respond to the theme and to interpret it's meaning through their chosen art forms. Installations include 3 D, sculpture, film, 2D and performance art.
We started at Art space on K Rd, then headed on to Shed 6 in Wellesley St, then the George Fraser Gallery in Princes St, the St Pauls St Gallery at AUT and finally the Auckland Art Gallery. I loved the variety of the artists responses and the way it really makes you think about your own response as the viewer.

Some highlights were....

Mike Parr's Facts About the Room (1970). Just a whole lot of one sentence descriptions about the physical aspects of the room stencilled on the wall but managing to engage the viewer and stimulate thought, laughter, irony, a sense of peace, unease....

The Room with a Bird (2010) by Bundith Phunsombatlert evokes a similar feeling to Alfred Hitchcock's movie The Birds (but without the birds!) Empty bird perches hang down a narrow hallway and as you pass through they move and make noises of the bird flying away. "The known has become unknowable."

Jorge Macchi's 12 Short Songs (2009) manages to contrast the doom and gloom of the current global financial crisis by displaying text on cheerful looking banners that are then played on music boxes that make them sound lighthearted and delightful.

The Last Tour (2004) by Marine Hugonnier is a beautiful film of the Materhorn where the juxtiposition of images and ideas challenges the way that we perceive our world. As you observe what is before you "you cannot help but map postcard images of what you want to remember." I love the way that art can challenge the way we perceive things and how we embrace our world. It's a reminder that we need to see more, to look deeper, to not be trapped into taking snapshot images instead of fully participating in the whole of life and all that it has to offer.

Pitstop and lunch at Deus Ex Machina in Wellesley St, heaven for bike and motorbike enthusiasts. Check it out.... It's a fantastic blend of shop, merchandise, workshop and cafe. Beth and I came away loving the food, the best bathroom ever and pining over BMX bikes!

We also visited Jason's Books with it's amazing selection of secondhand books. It's a quiet haven in the centre of the city. Here's some of the shipping ephemera Beth purchased. They provide a fascinating window into another era where travelling on a ship was the height of romance and adventure!

And we finished the day with a creative burst of crafting. Beth has been developing ideas round jewellery that is created with traditional crafting methods. This is her Hundertwasser inspired work in progress and I have started embroidering multi-faceted fabric jewels. Watch this space.....

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Last Saturday morning I headed out of Auckland up to the Farmers Market at Matakana. It's such a great feeling to be on a road trip on a lovely day. As I arrived in Matakana it was bustling! There were people everywhere. Before I headed into the market I went for a wander....
The Farmers Market operates every Saturday morning and draws huge crowds of people. They do not disappoint. Everything is locally produced. Freshly picked and prepared. You are so spoilt for choice. I feasted on a delicious breakfast of polenta, figs and plums with a dash of cream. Amazing!! It melted in my mouth! The markets are a visual and literal feast....

While the Farmers Market is full of fresh produce and food, there are great vintage finds at the stalls by Matakana House. I spent ages perusing the unusual array of objects on display. Where else could you purchase old nets, floats and anchors? I wasn't really in the market for them. My purchases included two vintage blankets (for cushions), some old rose prints, 1960's Kiwi Bacon playing cards, NZ souvenir teaspoons and embroidered tray cloths. All in amazing condition and at bargain prices.Check out the market for yourself. It's a satisfying way to spend a Saturday. Delicious treats for the body and visual treats for the eye....

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Easter Egg Project

Over Easter I was involved in an exhibition called The Easter Egg Project. Easter these days seems to be all about eggs so the exhibition embraced the Easter egg concept with a twist! People were invited to create an installation on a plate using eggs to reflect what Easter means to them.

Contributors ranged in age from two to fifty. Installations were thoughtful and innovative - ranging from clever and quirky to meditative and deep. There was a real sense of celebrating the redemptive and hopeful aspects of Easter, with the transforming power of Jesus' death and resurrection expressed in a variety of ways (with the eggs!)......
It was great to see people engaging with the installations. Reactions included - "thought provoking", "challenging", "moving", "made me laugh".... There were great discussions about what people had portrayed and the feelings and thoughts that they evoked.

I came away with a real sense of awe and wonder... loving the creativity, variety and depth of the messages... pondering on the mystery and power of what Jesus did all those years ago and what it means to me today .


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