Can we?

scrabble sculpture (03 Dec 2011)

scrabble sculpture (03 Dec 2011)

Can we? — quickly now!
— Can we just keep pretending
that nothing happened?

(07 May 2016)


The text here is something plucked indiscriminately, unresisted, out of my subconscious. “Reality is … a sum of all texts in various media, including action and thought” (Annette Lavers. 1982. Roland Barthes : Structuralism and After. London: Methuen & Co. [p171].

The last ever Kirkcaldie’s Christmas Shop

I wanted to write a nostalgic piece about the last ever Kirkcaldie’s Christmas Shop … but these photos I snapped on Sunday afternoon took the words right out of my mouth.

In June of this year, it was announced that “Troubled Wellington department store Kirkcaldie & Stains, affectionately known as Kirks, is poised to shut its doors next February.” Dating back to 1863, Kirks has been the capital city’s leading department store for generations, and is the oldest in the country still trading under its original name. The silver lining, according to Kirks chairman Falcon Clouston, is that the site would reopen as the first New Zealand store of Australian retailer David Jones, which aims to retain most of the 270 staff. (Adapted from a story by Catherine Harris, James Weir & Talia Shadwell (see Stuff link here))

Year by year, since I don’t remember when, I’ve been adding to my lovely collection of Christmas tree ornaments, and Kirkcaldie’s has been a major source. There’s also a lovely group of white plaster putti, and some elegant German glass (etched and cut), but that’s another story for another time.

It remains to be seen what David Jones will come up with next Christmas. In the meantime, the two red poinsettia flowers from the last ever Kirkcaldie’s Christmas shop look great on this year’s tree.

A photographer edits out our smartphones to show our strange and lonely new world

“Angie and me” by Eric Pickergill

Click on this link to read more: A photographer edits out our smartphones to show our strange and lonely new world

What would Barthes think of his Hermès scarf? – The New Yorker

“It is fair to say that there exists in our era a tragic discrepancy between the staggering richness of the visible world and the extreme poverty of our capacity to perceive it.”

word pond

” . . . world blindness, a disease described superbly by Robert Harrison in his book “Gardens: An Essay on the Human Condition”: “It is fair to say that there exists in our era a tragic discrepancy between the staggering richness of the visible world and the extreme poverty of our capacity to perceive it.” The cure, Barthes knew, can be found in the study of literature, photography, and other art forms, optimal training grounds for developing the kind of attention necessary to see what surrounds us.” – Christy Wampole

What would Barthes think of his Hermès scarf? – The New Yorker

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Café culture

Athfield Havana Bond (19 October 2015)

Athfield Havana Bond (19 October 2015)

Architect Ian Athfield died on 16 January this year. In the New Zealand Listener (dated the day before), Diana Wichtel presented an engaging interview, first published in the Listener in 2012, in which Ath “talked about starting his landmark ‘act of defiance’ in 1965, and finally wanting to finish the place.” Interview: Architect Ian Athfield

My image shows an advertisement for Havana Coffee. The green Telecom Building peeping in at the top corner of the image, was, according to one NCEA student, “built in a boom period when New Zealanders had big ideas and wanted their cities to look like international ones …”

Mois de la Photo Montreal – Biennale 2015: The Post-Photographic Condition | LensCulture

The Post-Photographic Condition | LensCulture

word pond

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Mathieu A., 2005. From the series, “Autoportraits robots.” Courtesy of the artist and galerie UNIVER / Colette Colla, Paris. © Leandro Berra

“Post-photography is not a style or a historical movement but a rerouting of visual culture

Source: Mois de la Photo Montreal – Biennale 2015: The Post-Photographic Condition | LensCulture

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The Village Green on Civic Square

The Village Green on Civic Square (12 March 2015)

The Village Green on Civic Square (12 March 2015)

When I posted this image on my Facebook page yesterday, a friend asked, “What type of camera do you use?” When I told her, “An Olympus μ800 (8 megapixels … and about 10 years old)”, another friend (who I know has a liking for really old cameras) commented: “Proof that it’s the photographer and not the camera that makes a picture great.” Thanks, Steve.

This all connects with the ICC Cricket World Cup. For further images of the Village Green, go to this link on the Wellington City Council’s Facebook page.

Quake-risk portico: still going

still going (09 February 2015)

still going (09 February 2015)

Vivid colour is not usually a feature of my photographic image-making, but the high-energy scene presented here tells it like it was in Victoria Street a couple of days ago. And, as the job edges closer to completion, the validity of the old eighty/twenty rule is aptly illustrated.

Click on the link here to read my earlier story, Quake-risk portico: going, going, … posted on 26 January 2015.

Quake-risk portico: going, going, ... (26 January 2015)

Quake-risk portico: going, going, … (26 January 2015)

Quake-risk portico: going, going, …

Quake-risk portico: going, going, ... (26 January 2015)

Quake-risk portico: going, going, … (26 January 2015)

Civic Square portico. Photo credit: Chris Skelton, Fairfax NZ

Civic Square portico. Photo credit: Chris Skelton, Fairfax NZ

In early November 2014, work began on “A tricky $1 million project to demolish Wellington’s 500-tonne Civic Square portico …” (see DominionPost story by Hank Schouten). The contract, awarded to Arrow International, was scheduled to be completed by 23 January, according to Wellington City Council building resilience manager Neville Brown. And it’s nearly done – as my photo (above) shows.

“The Portico was built in 1992 as part of the Civic Square redevelopment. The Council decided to remove it after an engineering assessment deemed it earthquake-prone and a quake hazard to the buildings it links” (see Wellington.Scoop story by Lindsay Shelton).

Dating from what Maximus, writing in The Eye of the Fish, described as “Athfield Architects more vigorously civic days”, the black concrete, steel and glass two-level span was designed to enclose Civic Square by linking the Civic Administration Building and Wellington Central Library.

Maximus continues: “The area we now know as Civic Square was once an ordinary street, with a lot of car parking for City Council workers. As part of the creation of a Civic precinct in the late 80s / early 90s, the road was closed, City to Sea bridge built, the old Library converted into the City Gallery, a new magnificent Library building built, and the Council’s civic chambers extended to wrap around the whole. A portico over the gateway entrance to the newly pedestrian used square proudly proclaimed to all who could read the urban signs, that ‘this be land of the people’ and cars were forevermore buried underground.”

Later in his piece, Maximus explains why the thing has had to come down: “… in the case of a decent sized earthquake, this portico would act like a giant battering ram, and pulverize the other buildings into dust, or something like that, involving calculations of structural resonance and adequacy of seismic movement joints. I dunno the exact reasons why – you’ll have to ask an engineer – but it means it has gone from being a useful thing to a very bad thing, and it must be destroyed.”

On Daffodil Day

daffodils, Te Horo (15 August 2014)

daffodils, Te Horo (15 August 2014)

Today there are phony daffodils all over the place – because, as everyone in New Zealand must surely know, this is Daffodil Day.

“Daffodil Day is the Cancer Society’s annual flagship event,” says the homepage of the Cancer Society’s web-site, which regards Daffodil Day as “one of the most important fundraising and awareness campaigns in the country. As well as providing an opportunity to raise awareness of cancer in New Zealand, Daffodil Day is a major funding source for the Cancer Society. We are proud to be regarded as one of the country’s most trusted charities and this is reflected in our fundraising practices.”

In the past, I have been only too happy to donate to the Cancer Society, and to wear a plastic daffodil. I have fond memories of carrying bunches of cut flowers around the city and – on occasion – deriving pleasure from giving them away.

Today, though, I looked at daffodils in Moore Wilson Fresh but did not buy any. Nor did I poke a twenty into any collector’s tin.

The truth is I’m feeling exploited – by commerce in general, and by the Cancer Society’s principal sponsor in particular (even though I bank with the ANZ Bank).

I’m confident that the people of the Cancer Society are well-intentioned and honourable … but I’m sorry, I’m just not in the mood to wear a fake daffodil today.

So here’s a photo of some real daffodils clustered around a tree on the lawn of friends who live in Te Horo.