Monday, December 22, 2008

The Twelve Days of Christmas

(To be sung in the Traditional Manner, with a

Hearty Voice and Appetite!)

...On the eleventh day of Christmas,

My true love gave to me;

Eleven full length mirrors,

Ten sunbed sessions,

Nine Jenny Craig meals,

Eight aerobic outfits,

Six abdominisers,

Five di-et plans

(pause and take a breath)

Four exercycles,

Three quarts of fake tan,

Two body scrubs,

Leg wax and a bi-ki-ni.

On the twelfth day of Christmas,

With the tact he'd just shown me;

I stuffed my true love with the tu-ur-key!

Merry Eating and Drinking to one and all, and may the recession recede as fast as the Pinot Gris.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Summer Creativity Workshops

I'm teaming up with Saradha Koirala this January to run workshops on writing and illustration for 11-14 year students- our storytellers of the future. Saradha recently won 2nd prize in the Wellington Sonnet Competition and she, like myself, are both graduates of the Victoria University IIML Creative Writing MA Programme. Saradha will be running the writing part and I'll be teaching the illustration all in my wonderful sunny studio in MT Cook. Here's the flyer; please feel free to pass it on. We are looking forward to a great summer nuturing bright young talent.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Vinished Velvet

Well here they all are; my Pin-Up Honeys. Click on the picture to see them in full resolution. My favorite is Gloria- which one appeals most to you? I hung them last night with the help of my fabulous other half Adrian- it so helps to have a tall man at your disposal, that picture rail and those hooks were a long way up! Juanita sold before she even got to the cafe, but tonight is the opening and if I haven't contacted you about it, get your own back and come and drink my bubbly at 6.30pm at the Deluxe, Kent Tce, Wellington. I'd love to see you there!

Monday, December 01, 2008

Fly My Pretty (boy child)

I waved my 18 year old off on the bus today- on an adventure north to meet up with his girlfriend, the school part of his life having finished for good and the next part of his journey through the world about to begin. I watched him climb aboard the Naked Bus Company, long hair flowing, skinny black jeans clinging and his head plugged into ‘Tool’ via MP3 player and was reminded of the last time I waved him goodbye. The following poem addressing my emotional state was published in Next magazine back in 1995…

A Free Woman

My baby's off to school,

What's that I hear you say?

Will I take up tennis now,

And laze around all day?

Or fill my empty hours,

With a little part-time job,

Mourning my lost playmate,

Whilst I earn an extra bob?

Then perhaps because I'm lonely,

For my little chickadee,

Get all kind of broody,

And start on number three?

Well I can tell you sister,

That for five long years and more,

I've been a wise apprentice

On the motherhood shop floor.

I've breastfed babes whilst working

And been desperate for sleep:

Juggling creche and preschool,

(Escape routes don't come cheap).

Real life just ain't too much,

Like the good old Brady bunch,

So I'm hanging up my pinny,

And I'm going out for lunch!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Here I am with my velvet- this is how big they are in relation I am quite small, but bigger than a hobbit. Note my lovely clean, white gallery wall where they are hanging waiting for transition to the Deluxe Cafe where they will grace the walls on the 8th December amongst the fine aroma of coffee and the delicious smells of pizza the like of which I have never found anywhere else. They load them with baby beets, feta, spinach, pumpkin, rosemary, portobello mushrooms and all manner of amazing combinations. I don't know how they think of it, but only grateful that they do. You can buy EPs from the Wellington International Ukelele Orchestra there too. Fine food, fine music and fine velvet all in a cafe tucked in by the Embassy Theatre. Ah Wellington, how could you be any more satisfying?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Velvet Va Va Voom!

Sailor Gal Betty & the Pin-up Honeys invite you to
the pre-Christmas exhibition opening of

Vintage Velvet

6.30pm, Monday December 8th

Deluxe Café, Kent Tce, Wellington.
Bubbles will be served for your viewing pleasure.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Vintage Velvet

I have been busy creating for my next exhibition at the Deluxe Café (8 Kent Tce, Wellington) opening Monday 8th December.
Following on from my sell out exhibition ‘Velvet Resurrection’ last year and my win at the WOW awards with ‘The Birth of Velvet’, I have continued exploring the medium and come up with a collection of 'Pin Up Honeys'.
Sweet and sexy gals from the 40’s and 50’s, each are painted and airbrushed on hand cut shaped board stretched with velvet and finished with black felt backing and brass hanging ring. Every honey wears a piece of vintage jewellery and will be flanked by framed seamed (and sometimes silk) stockings in their original packaging. My works are around 45cm high (Carmen Miranda is a little taller because of her sumptous fruit basket hat…) Pictured here is 'Betty'.
If you want to see the works before the show, you may visit my studio at 26 Wright St, Mt Cook where they are in residence on my gallery wall, have a coffee with me and enjoy a bit of Vintage Velvet.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Preserving with Hirst

© Damien Hirst, photo by Prudence Cumming

The news that Damien Hirst's ‘The Golden Calf’ was up for auction and consequently sold for £9.2 million to a telephone bidder at Sotheby's, coincided with the call for entries for Page & Blackmore’s Short Story Sandwich competition. The rules were simple:

Write a short story with the following as your first sentence as written by Emily Perkins: The smell was overpowering. …and conclude with this last sentence contributed by Joe Bennett: Dear Stella. Don’t forget to include your kiwi food item in your story Maximum word length = 1000 words

What fun! I thought I’d give it a go and this is what I came up with. Obviously I wasn’t the winner, but I often think of this blog as a Second Life for writing that never got to print and used illustrations that I can’t afford to frame. My effort isn’t likely to make the Six Pack, but if you make a cup of tea and sit down with it, it may just entertain you as much as it did me in the writing of it.

I did start out with a woman sitting in a café, but, Dear Stella, it all went another way when Hirst put his calf up for sale and my character took over the story…


The smell was overpowering, it completely drove me out. The poisoned rat in the roof; I can’t create another thing until it goes! You have to understand Stella that my art needs solitude and brevity and aesthetic to happen. Not rotting corpses. I should never have fed it all that bait but it was feasting on my creation as fast as I was making it and turning it in to crap. It was me or the rat. At the moment, the rodent is winning. I should have put up with the droppings. Have you ever inspected them close up? They looked like henbane seeds. Fabulous narcotic properties; drops one in an instant. The henbane, not the droppings.

I’m losing track of how many days I’ve been here, except that the bach has ponged for at least four, so I’ve escaped to the nearest café. Five kilometres down the road. There are only two to choose from and very hard to gauge from the exterior which might serve an approximation of an espresso. Both have net curtains and dim interiors, so I went for the ‘Du Pop Inn’.

I immediately regretted walking in the front door and pretended to look at bottles of water in the chiller until I saw that there was indeed a flat white on the menu board not that dreaded filter coffee, so I’ve taken a gamble and passed over $3.50 and stroked the cat which has now knitted itself around my trousers. The wrinkled old gargoyle manning the counter is all smiles now; nothing like brisk trade and cat appreciation to break down barriers. I was just about to turn away when I saw the lamingtons and you sprang to mind again.

Oh God, the coffee is awful after all. Milky and lukewarm; soy isn’t even an option here. Damn. The lamington looks digestible though and it’s sitting here on a very collectable Crown Lynn plate. I wonder if I can slip it into my pocket? Not the lamington; I’ll eat that. This one’s not made from foam rubber or covered in pink paint. Oh how you laughed when I bit into the jam and coconut you’d rolled it in. My jaws sprang back immediately; I couldn’t understand it. Thought my teeth had lost their edge. The paint was only a teeny bit toxic; I recovered eventually didn’t I? You were so full of pranks my dear; I never knew if I’d be brushing my teeth with haemorrhoid cream or finding a kipper in my dress shoe. The day you painted over my latest canvas with test pots and said you were dragging me into postmodernism was a hoot.

I like to think you contributed to my art in a positive way; because without you, there would be no ‘big idea’. This one’s a real winner. I resisted applying for funding; I didn’t think the panel would get the concept, even if I pointed them to Hirst. His Golden Calf has been quite an influence. I don’t expect this piece will sell for millions of pounds; in fact, I don’t plan to sell it at all. You’re such an integral part of the thing; it would be hard to part company with it. I want to have it installed and stare at it for hours. It’s my magnum opus. My homage to you; you had such fun with me. Such a tease; every time I look at my work in progress, I have to grin.

Laugh? I virtually split my sides when you announced you were leaving. With the contents of the house. You were quite right, failing artists earn diddly squat and that property developer; well yes, I can see how you were attracted. It was nice that you let me stay in the bach; for my work. Pity he put it on the market last week. Nice you came down to see what you could take with you. Pity we fought over the Sydney. I thought you were going to tear it in two for a horrible moment. It was more than I could bear and well, yes, I reacted badly. I’ll admit that.

My stomach is churning at the memory, or perhaps it’s the coffee. I really don’t think I can eat this lamington after all; I’ve completely lost my appetite. Its just the smell in my nostrils won’t go away. Bloody rat. I should have grabbed it, squeezed it, trussed it up, fitted it with golden feet and pickled it in the formaldehyde too. Dear Stella.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Because you liked the last ones so much...

... here are some bugs and blossoms; the Huhu beetles were snapped up before they'd barely had a chance to crawl up the wall! Click on the pic for a better view.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Velvet for you

As requested by Bookgirl, here are some of my velvet birds from the Velvet Resurrection show.
Each one is a clear cut from 5mm MDf board, covered with stretch velvet, backed with hand stitched black felt and painted with airbrushed and brushed acrylic. They measuring 60cm from beak to tail with legs made from foiled copper wire. I am working on a new exhibition for the 8th December 2008 at the Deluxe cafe in Wellington. Called 'Velvet Honeys', it features birds of a different variety, designed to tickle your nostalgic senses.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

A whole new lease on my artistic life

Well, tired of working off my kitchen table and having the teen aged son make comments about women in the kitchen (just to rile me), and having suffered the longest dreariest winter in recent history, and completely had enough of waiting for the work to come to me…I can now report that I have done just what my horoscope advised; taken a lease on a studio in town. Not just a studio, as in a room somewhere sharing with a bunch of others, but a whole house! Well a small house- a two roomed cottage type of thing in the Production Village in Mt Cook. From there I can run art workshops for kids and adults, illustrate whatever needs my touch, write, blog and create Wearable Art. And the best thing is I have free parking so I can rock up to the door, unload my recyclables ready for transformation into art and craft and won’t have to catch the bus. If you have been following my posts, and understand my feelings about the bus service in Wellington, you will realise just what a relief that is to me!

I will be putting in a link to a new blog about forthcoming workshops in due course. So, keep an eye out. In the meantime, thanks to Google Earth and the Wellington City Council, here’s an aerial shot of where I will be from Labour Weekend. Just me, the tuis warbling in the greenbelt and a whole bunch of other artists working in the village.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Birth of Velvet Wins!

Well not the entire Air New Zealand South Pacific section of the 2008 Wearable Art Awards, See the winners here but I thought Commended and a cheque was pretty darn good. The cheque will go into my Pacific Island holiday fund and the joy of walking up on the stage to recieve it will stay for ever! Photo below courtesy of WOW and the others are from my files (many thanks to my models Haley and Steve). Click on the photos for a bigger view.
You can also see it performed on this video link about WOW- mine is right at the end!
Click here for the video

The Birth of Velvet: High Art meets Low

Edgar Leeteg, the velvet painter of Papeete idealized Tahitian women as noble savages, with full breasts, fertile hips, and starry eyes. Tourists loved these souvenirs of the South Seas, a holiday from Western morality. They represented an innocent sexuality; like Eve, their nudity was without shame. But was he more exploitative than celebratory? Was he just a philandering white man disempowering and objectifying his Polynesian models? Or did he just love them as Sandro Botticelli adored his model, the beautiful Simonetta, mistress of the Medici on whom he based his Venus; the mother and patron saint of all the forces in creation.

reference source

15 entries since 1995, 15 on stage, 8 times Finalist,
4 times Award Winner.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


The really irritating thing about not getting my third JF novel published sooner than half way through next year (Glory- Scholastic) is that I will be that much closer to menopause. Oh it’s not the moodiness that bothers me; I can put aside irrational anger long enough to smile at my book launch. No, it’s that I will be another year older and yet a little less gorgeous for the publicity photos. At 24 I thought I had years up my sleeve and now at twice that, dammit, I find that lines, wrinkles and other age enhanced attributes increase exponentially with age. My greatest fear is that I might be 70 before I can finally afford designer clothes and will have by then lost all will to wear anything other than Osti frocks and Kumfs; I already own Hush Puppies…and then, of course is the horrible realisation that I might indeed be turning into an old dog too….

Bristle Face

Today I found a long bristle,

Upon my chinny chin chin,

And my fragile shell of vanity,

Like the little pig’s house, caved in.

I sought my mother’s wise counsel,

For the first time in thirty five years,

But the revelation imparted,

Did nothing to stifle my fears.

Apparently whiskers are common,

As you head down the menopause track,

Whilst men lose their hair, we get more to spare,

God, I hope it won’t sprout on my back.

It seems I’ll be doomed to plucking,

Or have them electrically speared,

For if I let nature have her own way,

I’d sport a luxuriant beard.

There’s always the option of shaving;

I’d bond with my husband each day,

We’d both lather up every morning,

To scrape all our worries away.

Considering my changing complexion,

From peaches to old kiwifruit,

I could then change my beauty care options,

And swop my Clinique for his Brut.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Golden Girls

I was flicking through my visual diaries in preparation for presenting at talk at Bookrapt and found these pics and a musing from a holiday on the Gold Coast. It was July and not particularly warm but nice enough to sit on the beach and feel like you had escaped winter in N.Z. I was taken by the contrast between these gorgeous gals I saw in Cavill Mall advertising a club and the lovely woman on the beach taking time out. They were all dressed in gold.

There’s a tanned old chook on the beach in a satin slip of a top, fussing and pecking at her straps in a self conscious sort of way. Her hair is scraped up; a cockscomb for a dowager, ballet style and secured oddly with wedding flowers. She is the colour of warm leather and her shoes are gold; placed neatly beside her. One by one: partners. Did she lose the other shoe that once partnered her? He would have been leathery too.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

On the Truck with Charlie

A comment from the blue recently posted on my blog, brought me back to the time I spent in Bristol 6 years ago as a volunteer at a fantastic recycling enterprise. I wrote this piece about it at the time on foolscap refill paper, filed it and promptly forgot about it. Charlie, getting in touch with me had me rifling through my filing cabinet and bookshelves this morning, and thanks heavens I am such a magpie, because there it was. So I have typed it and posted it to share with you all the truly gert concept that it is.
For one who loves to make silk purses from sows ears, I was as happy as a pig in mud…

I arrive at Welshback early, coffee in hand, my breath issuing forth in the English winter morning, like great billows of smoke. I could be a gargoyle, or a dragon; like the artfully made head that hung from the wall in the warehouse I now stand in front of.
I am there as a volunteer; a piece of flotsam from New Zealand, looking for paying work and finding none but in my creative desperation falling across what would become my find of the year. The Bristol Children’s Scrapstore ; the Charity that makes practical use of scrap material for children's play activities. The ultimate useful box; my treasury of delight.

For anyone who has seen the possibility in an egg carton, a bottle top or discarded packaging, you will understand my excitement. From the age of 5, I have plagued my mother, and in turn as I grew, my husband and children with my bags and boxes of things that ‘might come in useful one day’. I blame my dear Scottish Aunty Isabel for this; a woman who bore two sons more interested in football than felt, she and I would spent hours cutting, sewing and gluing all manner of materials in the corner of her tiny Thornton lounge. My aunt is now 82, still working, still running craft classes, still making things to sell, still dancing. What a woman!

So back to my standing in the cold, clear morning outside the Scrapstore; my mission- to boldly go where (I think) no itinerant Kiwi had gone before; with Charlie to pick up clean industry waste for the warehouse. I clamber up into the truck, badly (there’s a knack to it as I soon learned through the many leaps in and out of the truck through the day) and we set off. There is a structure of sorts to the pick-up. Gathering factory and industry scrap works on a rota system; the businesses we would see that day were visited two weeks ago. The collection starts at one end of Bristol and follows a circular route, ending back at the store; we have an empty truck, waiting to be filled.

First stop, a printing firm with two pallets of corrugated cardboard, which are loaded with ease by ‘the boy’ who obviously relishes his forklift manoeuvres. He spins the machine around; practised and flamboyant. I eye the donation with glee; corrugated card is wonderful for construction; you can never have enough! Next stop, a food tech operation which makes flavourings. There is a pervasive smell of an indefinable substance; maybe cheese, but turns out to be tomato. It fills your nostrils unpleasantly- it might be better in sauce. The cheerful man in the white coat points us towards empty barrels; which are large and perfect for storing scrap in, unfortunately they also have irritation warnings on them in large orange stickers. Regretfully we leave them behind as contravening Health and Safety regulations are not on our list of things to do today. We move on.

Charlie talks about his first pick up which had started as mundane until he spotted a medical supply company and risked a cold call.
“It’s that lucky strike you always look out for; like a jackpot win.”
In this case, he was directed to two large shelves which, amongst other useful bottles and containers, housed a surprising number of unworn white canvas surgical theatre shoes.
These were swooped on with glee and the Scrapstore ran a ‘Decorate the Shoe’ competition to the great enjoyment of many schools and kids.

The next pick ups have the truck half filled with large circular cardboard cut-outs.
“I don’t know what people do with them, but they all go really quickly,” says Charlie. I can think of several, especially in the classroom. Big pie charts for maths, huge daisy flowers for science, bases for models of the Coliseum, or decorated with paper for pretend pizzas? Another packaging factory gives us cardboard tubes. I’ve used these myself to make rocket ships, desk tidies and mad dogs! The pet rat at my son’s after school care club snoozes in one regularly.

We call in at a cigarette packaging factory. No tobacco in sight; this place just makes the boxes. This is a print shop on an enormous scale; giant rolls of shiny silver card are piled high in the storeroom, each as big as a colossus. Mammoth machines spit out printed material but the whole place is as clean as an operating theatre, where you take your dirty lungs to be fixed. I try to imagine just how many packets are printed here and I cannot get my head around it. Smoking is obviously not a dying industry in Britain- except for the end consumer. Charlie is hopeful for the silver card, but there’s none left over today. Instead we help ourselves to the wooden spindles that come in the ends of the giant rolls. These make wonderful wooden stands for models. Some are plastic and look like Party Susan’s. You could almost give them a wash and serve nuts, dips and crisps in them.
A notice board industry gives us lovely bits of brushed acrylic felt type material and a lingerie manufacturer yields two enormous bags of silky off-cuts including a nice leopard skin print. I immediately see fierce jungle collages in the making.

A dodgy looking street in Bristol (one of many) with the yard next door housing baying hounds from hell, is the home of an unlikely enterprise which supplies large felt covered props and screens to the BBC. We rummage through their off cut bin and take red and white felt scraps; remnants from the forthcoming Queens Jubilee celebrations perhaps?
Just as we turn to go, a collection of felt ends on rolls in an array of vibrant colours are pushed our way. I think how much you could pay for a 10 inch square retail and I am delighted that this will be accessible to art and play workers. We get similar bright colours in PVC from an inflatables factory. This material goes down well, as does rip-stop nylon from a ballooning company.

Our final picks fill the truck with green plastic rods from an electronics industry, plastic signage material, soft, stretchy black rubber, empty medicine containers and redundant lever arch files from an insurance company. The truck is full to groaning and we’ve been out for 8 hours, stopping only briefly for a flapjack from Charlie’s favourite bakery in Kingswood. On our return, Jeff and the boys will unload the haul. Some will go straight into the warehouse, some will be stored and some will be swapped with other scrap stores around the country to ensure a wider variety and distribution of materials for community art and education.

As for me; I’ll heat up, my glue gun and get my scissors out. I have a large mural planned for the back wall of the Scrapstore, and I’m desperate to ‘bags’ some of that felt!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Mamma Mia

Was it wrong to cry in ‘Mamma Mia’ the movie? Am I ridiculous for letting tears run down my cheeks in an emotion other than laughter? Call me shallow, call me a philistine, but it moved me. So why did it? Because I have a 20 year old daughter who is slipping away from me bit by bit? Because at 17, I was a Dancing Queen, grooving in the discos of Wellington? The answer is both.

That wondrous feeling of youth that you didn’t quite know you had until you didn’t have it anymore. The absolute assurance of dancing in a tiny scrap of cheesecloth, knowing that your arms wouldn’t flap and stray, wiry hair wasn’t going to peek out from surprising places. Knowing you could cast a glance and have a boy look back just as meaningfully. O.k., o.k., it wasn’t so difficult; boys would shag a goat if they got a chance, but you know what I mean?

And my daughter; could I really have made such a gorgeous being? Of all the creative projects I have had in my life, how could I have pulled this one off so well? And now when she is all grown up, making plans for a future that doesn’t include me in her everyday life (just as I did with my mother), how can I not shed a tear?
I still dance, wings and all and I embarrass her of course; because…me a mamma.

The Dancing Queen

We put on some loud music,
From my youth-the seventies,
And we all got down and dirty,
To the Stones, and U.K Squeeze.

Then in a dancing frenzy,
My booty shaking all the while,
I had a little flashback,
At which I had to smile…

When I was just a nubile
Disco Queen in platform shoes,
My boyfriend of the moment
Appalled me with his news.

His Dad had just turned forty,
And was about to celebrate,
With a party at the clubrooms,
And could we go at eight?

Reluctantly I followed,
And stared with horror at the floor,
At a bunch of old farts writhing
To some ancient music score.

They all got pretty wild,
And I declared "When I'm old,
I'll behave with more decorum",
Ah; the arrogance of youth.

Thursday, August 14, 2008


For everyone in NZ who has suffered the wettest winter ever...

I told the rain to go away
And come again another day.
It did and now it’s with regret
I find myself so sodding wet.

My car today was down the street;
I ran to it on soggy feet,
My brolly fighting with the wind,
Turned inside out, and had me pinned

Against a wall where gutters gushed,
Awash with leaves and humus, mushed.
It all cascaded down my neck;
A filthy shower, made for Shrek.

My jeans, a trendy baggy pair,
Dragged a denim driftnet flare,
And I craved a retro 80’s taper
Instead of street-cool litmus paper.

When I was young, we used to say,
Rain was the Almighty’s way,
Of showing he was feeling blue…
I hope he doesn’t get the flu!

Iron-me / irony

I’m flattened...I can’t believe people take me seriously!
Really, you should laugh a little more, preferably whilst I’m on stage at Katipo Café, Willis Street, August 27th.

Friday, August 08, 2008

The Third Act Turning Point

O.k. so I haven’t finished the novel yet but I am halfway through Chapter 10 with six more to go. My arms hurt, my head hurts (though that might be more to do with the Sav I drank last night). There is a lot more to go…both in the writing and the drinking.
I have discovered in my quest to ‘write a novel in a week’ the following things:

1) It is not possible to write a full YA novel in 7 days unless you are on speed (even then I’m not too sure…)
2) It helps to have a plan- I had the Wild Cards ‘bible’ that I created for my scriptwriting thesis. This gave me the Wild Cards World; the setting, characters, history and chapter outlines and a goodly amount of dialogue from the scripted episodes.
3) It really helps to have a dedicated (warm) writing space outside of the house and it is amazing what you can do when you have one. Thank you to Ogilvy Advertising , the marvellous Julie Powell and her team.

5) It is absolutely vital to have financial support to buy you time out of your usual life and work to do it. Where it comes from isn’t important. In my case it has been my family who have done without my income whilst I do this. My partner is an amazing funding body(!)
6) No-one has to give you permission to do this except yourself.
7) Your persistence is the measure of your belief in yourself.

Now go to it. No excuses.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Ah yes...the novel....

So, you ask...WHAT ABOUT THE NOVEL? I can happily report I am half way through and it is not humanly possible to write a novel in a week. However I have written 29,572 words in that time which I think is a pretty concentrated effort and all without CNZ funding. So there you go, surprising what bloody mindedness will do. I am in a mood to finish and yes I have a sugar daddy- my husband. I owe this and all my previous novels to him, because without whose acknowledgement, belief and support I would think it a pretty pointless pursuit.

All that remains now is for me to finish the first draft (ETA mid September- I have a book to finish illustrating in between time) and to interest a publisher. My last three novels have all found homes with one, so maybe there is hope for this one too, and if not, well, it's all a game isn't it? No point in slashing yer wrists about it. But drinking large amounts of that's another matter.

I am giving a literary talk this weekend in the BOP, weather permitting (runway not washed out) and I found in my diaries whilst looking for things to include in my data show a comment about contracts. This by the way has little to do with publishing although some might interpret it that way. I have as a freelancer, been asked to sign all manner of them and I find very few find in anyone's favour except the contractors. ITS ALL A GAME... (she said as a mantra)

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

WOW is all I can say...

It is mad I know but the competition has completely disappeared from Text’s website! I am wondering if I dreamed the whole thing, in which case I have been writing flat out for what? My own self indulgent pleasure apparently.
On the upside, a visual story I have told, a 3 dimensional one, has been accepted for the 2008 Wearable Arts Show. which is a real competition not disappearing anytime soon.
My entry is called ‘The Birth of Velvet’ (guess what materials I have used?) and I am afraid that I am not able to publish any pictures of it until after the show in September, such are the rules. And fair enough, it is pointless, is it not, to show one painting before you display the whole collection.
So as a nice diversion to writing (for which labours I have been at the osteopath today) I am taking a collection of Wearable Art to a school tomorrow to show the kids how something is conceived. Because birthing it is, at the end of the day, as is any creative endeavour. Instead of my WOW comment on high art meeting low, here is a picture of ‘Sophia’s Story’, something I laboured over in 2005.
15 entries over 13 years, 7 times finalist…I must be doing something right.

On the 10th June 1886, Mt Tarawera erupted, destroying the beautiful Pink and White Terraces. Guide Sophia Hinerangi and people of Te Wairoa that sheltered in her whare were spared. This is her story:

'We had not gone very far over the lake before we saw another canoe in the distance being vigorously paddled but never moving. Several said they could see it, but as I looked earnestly the men who paddled changed into dogs and then the whole thing vanished. I said "That was a phantom canoe and a warning that something dreadful is going to happen."
I thought of the old chief who had warned us that God would punish Wairoa for its wickedness- he said that all the Maoris would be killed excepting me. He tapued my whare. That same night the awful eruption of Tarawera took place.'

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Transports of Delight

'So how is the novel going' you ask?

Good question. This link here describes the love affair with the novel more wittily than I could say right now because I am out of love with public transport.

'What has this to do with the writing of your novel 'you ask?

Well, to preface (which I am told is something to avoid in a work of fiction) this morning I did all the hamster things at home that require the attention of ‘she who has no proper job to speak of.’ If I were a lawyer, doctor or policy analyst, I dare say that I would be exempt from cooking, grocery shopping and dry-cleaning pick up duties. But dammit, I foolishly trained in art and therefore must squeeze my profession around the breadwinner of the house. I could of course say a resounding feminist bollocks to that, but we would then starve, because the breadwinner is not a breadmaker and rarely gets home before one has contemplated eating the cat to assuage hunger pangs.

'Yes,' you say, 'but how is your novel going?'

Patience reader… so I did the grocery shopping and obligatory waiting in the queue at the P.O, posting snails, then returned my car to its cosy garage. Bag packed with laptop, mouse, cables, charger, phone, wallet, diary, coffee, lunch, manuscript (1st draft) and playing cards (on which the novel is based) I then waited at what I have come to think of as ‘The Coldest Bus Stop In The World’. I am thinking of doing a Raymond Briggs style book about it; the place where the sun don’t shine; yes, the A-hole of Hataitai, but unless it is a dead polar bear, much much colder.
A heritage style edifice, dating from the early 20th century, lovingly preserved in tongue and groove, it is used mostly as a urinal. Today though, there were two empty cigarette packets and a half dozen broken beer bottles in it. Now that’s class for you.

'Yes, yes, yes' you say, 'but how is your novel going?'

The 12.57 predictably didn’t come as I stood there, icy wind tearing chunks out of my face and frostbiting my earlobes. The Flyer did, but it flew right by because it is the Flyer. A school bus did too- alas I am not a school child. Two 'not-in-service' buses also sailed past for reasons only known to Met Link. The 12.57 never came and as I stood there fairly well snap frozen, I made a snap decision.
Three minutes later I was in my car, petrol prices be dammed, the heater blasting around my feet on my way to the deli, where I bought a Pain aux Raisin and a flat white.
Parking is $4 an hour in Wellington, so working in at the advertising agency was out of the question and so were my 3000 words.

'Yes, we got it, but how is your novel going' you ask?

'Slowly' I reply.

I admit the real reason I have resisted paid employment in favor of the spotty income of a freelancer is because If I had to spend two half hours a day waiting for unreliable buses to turn up, 5 days a week for 40 something weeks a year, I would surely kill myself.
I look at the clock and the main income earner will be home soon. Hmmm, must be about time to put the tea on, perhaps a bit of…

Cordon Bleuch

'What can we have for dinner?'
I heard my mother say,
For some of my youth,
Well to tell you the truth,
Every year, every month, every day.

Why on earth did I need to worry,
About our daily repast?
There was homework to botch,
And the T.V to watch,
Whilst hoping she'd get it cooked fast.

Mum conjured up magic at mealtimes,
We really expected no less,
Then down we all sat,
Ate in five minutes flat,
Then left her alone with the mess.

Thirty years on I'm now staring,
With quiet despair at the clock,
It's a quarter to six,
If I don't feed the kids,
They'll probably go into shock.

The fridge is offering nothing,
But flat tonic water and mould,
Some limp celery,
Olives-just three,
And Shepherds Pie, five days old.

Election to first cook status,
Is not what it's cracked up to be,
I'd give it away,
For a fourteen hour day,
If somebody else would cook tea.

NB: it has to be noted that if I were to do the 14 hour day, and believe me I could, should there be a corporate position available for a four finger typist who is good at drawing olives, it would have to come with a company car park. Thats not too much to ask is it?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

First Week

So late this week at the ad agency having sat, uninterrupted by external invasions of the cat, the washing and moody teens on eternal school holidays, I have averaged 3000 words a day.
Is this normal I ask myself? Am I just a very slow typist (yes I am) or am I actually doing quite well? I’d be interested in your thoughts. Given that I have to think, plot and devise as I write, I’m assuming this is progress. The people around me are intrigued and possibly a little disturbed as I make faces, shuffle playing cards and silently mouth dialogue. There is a reason why writing is done largely by oneself. It is so other people watching don’t think you are mad.
The playing cards are a full set that I made to help me work through the plot. They are based on a set my Scottish aunty had, a fortune assigned to each one.
Today I shuffled, cut the deck five times and turned up ‘a dark man’ (exciting), a ‘fortunate win’ (not CNZ funding) and ‘a surprise.’
I am wondering if I might be gifted with tickets to Lenny Henry’s show in Wellington later this month. That would tick all the boxes and make me laugh to boot; always a good thing. 22,857 words down and the more I write, the more that needs writing. I’m thinking a novel in a week may be a tad ambitious….

Monday, July 14, 2008

A Novel in a Week

I just had to see Text Publishing’s call for entries didn’t I?
Like I haven’t procrastinated over my unfunded novel for long enough?
Coming from a commercial art background I am completely deadline driven and there is nothing like the challenge of a 31st July date to spur me on against the odds. The question is ‘Can I really write a novel in a week?’ Let alone one good enough to pass muster. There was one answer- ‘Google it!’
My search result came up with and an article called the Snowflake Method.
I think the basis of what is being said was very much what Ken Duncum was trying to get me to do when I did my MA in Scriptwriting at the IIML
What I did instead was distract myself utterly by writing a novel, Janie Olive (Scholastic 2005) in the Uni break when I should have been writing my script- avoiding writing by writing. Now I’m re-writing that thesis script as a novel using the CAAF method (Completely Arse About Face…)

Given that I wrote my first junior fiction novel ‘Verity’s Truth’ (Scholastic 2003) in 3 weeks from whoa to go for the Tom Fitzgibbon, it seems perfectly reasonable that I might finish a longer YA for which I have the plot and characters all set up as a TV drama in far less time, other work and socialising willing. A chance encounter last Friday in at an advertising agency (where I was very impressed with the central heating) has resulted in a free (warm) writing space for the duration- amazing what people will offer after a few drinks. I haven’t been lucky with CNZ funding, but the generosity and enthusiasm of others never fails to astound me.

Studying the snowflake method in detail, I realised I have already built my skeleton, put the muscles on, made the internal organs work (mostly) I did all of this work during my MA and now its just a matter of building the skin, hair and fine tuning the brain to flesh my novel out. I will keep you updated as to my progress using the plan! Consider it an interesting experiment and at least might get the bloody thing off my hard drive and out into the world. One needs a reason to write and the lure of $10,000 seems a fine one to pull out all the stops and work my tail feathers off for. A fortune teller told me once: “You won’t come into money easily, you’ll always have to work for it but you’ll just get by.” Bugger.

So said, the following verse addresses her words. Wish me well compatriots! ‘Wild Cards’ the book of the film of the story of 3 teens lives, starts today! Luck doesn't come into it.

Future Shock

I went and had my palm read,
And I really have to say,
What she saw inside the creases,
Didn't really make my day.

She said I'd have five children,
God, I thought I'd done with that,
By having two already,
Plus a budgie and a cat.

When pushed for indication,
Of accumulated wealth,
She merely shrugged a little,
And advised to watch my health.

'Your marriage line is strong',
'But you'll go previous to him',
So widowhood in Paris,
With a Toy Boy, does look slim.

'Watch out for new acquaintances',
'They'll bring you down' she stressed,
Well this was true, to say the least,
She had me quite depressed.

As I thanked her for her insights,
I determined with some zeal,
To reshape my boring future,
With a chemical palm peel.