Friday, January 20, 2012

Visit to the Optometrist's

One day two weeks ago, the cloud on the Rimutakas so low it was like driving in the sky, I joined the other nine artists involved in Translucent Landscapes at the exhibition venue - an abandoned optometrist's premises in Ghuznee Street, Wellington. I am a poet - being part of an 'exhibition' is new to me. The others are visual artists in a range of media from photography to videomedia to installation art, landscape architects, a composer. 

We arrive around noon, most of us, some have been there a while. We stand at the edges to start with, this is, have you met. Helen, the gentle organiser. She's made muffins with oats and fruit in them. Her son, the composer, plucks at the mandolin, walks in arcs.

We peel off. Follow the composer's lead. Stand and look: the well-lit reception with 2 x 2.2 windows, a long desk, the plastic hooks where spectacles were displayed once, lit squares in the walls for goodness knows what, the view onto Glover Park. When I was studying landscape architecture, we observed the park for 24 hours, all through the night, taking shifts. 

The small eye-testing rooms with no natural light, white walls. Perfect. Can I paint it?

Some of the artists cluster. Talk about children. Holidays. 

Measure. Squint. Take photographs. Gesture at corners, walls. Stalagmites. 

I was just thinking. That one for me. Perhaps. How about this one? How would that be for you? I like this. Yes, this. This. Thinking. No not there. Here. Have you thought? I'm still. 

Eating one of Helen's muffins. There's take-out coffee. Across the road it says PARKING, The French Art Shop, World Trade Centre (faded). 

In Glover Park people come and go inside the neat squares. Mostly apart unless already in a cluster. A father with two children and ice-creams, a couple standing on a bench animated, man reading the newspaper, a pigeon. A reflection of us, inside. Coming and going. Framed in the windows. On show? I think so. 

On the other side of the park is a building with an elegant dome and a place at the top to stand and look at the world. A widow's walk. I bet you can see the harbour from there.

Maybe if I put. This room, for me, for sure. Over here. Fine. A projection. At night. The park. How much? How about? 

And the poems, where? The composer, Iain, and I talk by the spectacle hooks. He's not recording his music, will play it on the launch night with a guitarist and violinist. A performance. Just that. I wonder if that's enough for a poem: performed on launch night, printed out, perhaps. A few pages, displayed on the spectacle hooks. 

There are, as you'd expect, a lot of mirrors here, as well as the windows. Everywhere, squares of light, muted by city dust. The windows need washing. I'll ask Eddie

Still, a poem exhibited is a compelling idea. In large font on a large window, perhaps? The words opened up, given depth, by the place where they rest. Resolutely opaque but still, in a way, translucent - the light allowed (figuratively) through. The 'landscape' behind the words: PARKINGThe French Art ShopWorld Trade Centre, Glover Park, the dome, the widow's walk. I'll look into it.

Make notes. Measure with my feet. Take photos with my phone. One of the shots is in the middle of the optometrist's, somewhere between mirrors and windows. When I get home, I see myself in it. Framed and blocked by the light. Yet, possibly, vaguely translucent. 

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