Friday, March 16, 2012

The Tenderness of Light, the reading

Posted by Mary McCallum

The reading of my book The Tenderness of Light at the opening of Translucent Landscapes was recorded on video by Mike Ting, and I edited it with images from the book and the place the poems talk about: our property in the Wairarapa over summer. Making the video has felt like an extension of the book-making and the poetry.

It's been a challenge - watching myself and listening to my own voice reading over and over (!), learning how to delete unwanted sounds/interjections etc and putting the video together with images that are evocative without being dominant -- and by that, I mean evocative of both place and book. I feel I could improve on the reading and hope to do so in the Wairarapa before long.

Meanwhile, Tenderness is selling well to poets, poetry readers, friends and family (thank you!) ... Here is one happy customer! Copies are going off to San Francisco and Boston and London, to Dunedin and the Wairarapa, and many places in between. Wonderfully, I have gone over the 50 mark in terms of sales, so just under 50 more to go.

You can still buy the books from Translucent Landscapes at 75 Ghuznee St, Wellington until March 22. I am there tomorrow (Sunday) 11 am - 6 pm, if you want to talk about the poems and have me write your name in the book. They are already signed and numbered. Or click the button in the sidebar of this blog. Or email Details below.

The Tenderness of Light 
Poetry, signed limited edition of 100 books. Six poems.28 pages. Garamond font on uncoated 100 gsm Munken paper with flax photograph on Gilclear insert, 240 gsm Munken cover, and hand-sewn linen thread binding. $15

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Cloud Cutter

Posted by Clementine Woodhouse Appleby  

I was employed to help artist Helen Reynolds get her cloud installation ready for the Translucent Landscapes exhibition. It all starts with a drawing by Helen that looks something like this:  

My job was to trace the shape onto a new piece of paper and label it; then I had to cut off the outside layer and and draw around the new shape - which became the next layer. This process was repeated until all of the cloud layers were drawn separately onto paper. Then the cutting began! 

Every shape had to be cut out and kept organised. When a whole cloud had been cut out, I started gluing. We glued small squares of foam board to the biggest layer (the first one I cut), and then put dollops of glue on top of each square and laid the next biggest size on top of that, smoothing it down to strengthen the bond. We kept moving down in size but up in height, until eventually the clouds really began to form before our eyes.  

There were regular caffeine breaks of course - there are only so many squiggly lines one can look at before they start moving on the page in front of you!

At the same time as all of this was going on, the other artists were popping in and out, getting their work finished and their rooms ready for the opening. They came during their lunch breaks and as soon as they had finished work, which really showed me their dedication to their art and how much they cared about it.

I’ve really enjoyed working with Helen and know I’ll never look at a cloud the same way again! The whole experience has given me a new appreciation for artists and art alike and I hope this exhibition continues to go really well for all these lovely people.

Clouds by Helen Reynolds

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

At the opening

Mary McCallum reads from The Tenderness of Light

Listening to the poetry (artist Molly Samsell on the left)

artist Poppy Lekner on the left

Our venue is a great space and the curving bar was fab!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Ice - Iain Gordon

This is the premiere of Ice, composed by Iain Gordon, on the opening night. Played by Slava Fainitski (violin), Paul Stewart (guitar) and Iain Gordon (mandolin).

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Exhibition Opens!

Posted by Mary McCallum

The preparation is over. The exhibition is launched! Around 100 people came along and helped us celebrate it on Thursday night - interacting with the art work, talking to artists, buying what they liked the look of, watching the performances, knocking back glasses of wine - and they continue to come every day to 75 Ghuznee St between 11 am and 6 pm.

We will post videos of the music performance and the poetry reading that were part of the opening in due course, meanwhile here's the poem I began my reading with - it's the first poem in the limited edition book I have produced for the exhibition. The 'Helen' in it is Helen Reynolds, our fabulous curator.

Preparing for an Exhibition

All the talk today is about this.
Helen who lives in the house I used to live in,
who cooks in my kitchen, makes paper clouds
where we ate, alights on the word translucent,
but moves on – via the deception of clouds –
to what she wants to say all along,
the word I’ve been avoiding perhaps because
I say it vainly every day: clarity clarity clarity
until it sounds like a horse running
down the road without its rider. Helen
doesn’t hear the horses, she only hears the lick
of gauzy rain from gauzy clouds:
ity ity ity –
and is already imagining how hers might be –
layers of paper like onion skin. Really,
she wants to stop the dissembling. See the clouds,
you can touch them. Live in them, even.
Clarity, then. Not just the brilliance
of the tui clawing flax flowers outside
the kitchen window – black feathers like embers,
the comedy of its throat, ty ty ty as it sucks –
but the way through to other side
of the tui and the flax where a luminous
idea resides. The tenderness of light.
Here at last in plain sight.

                                            Mary McCallum

With thanks to ‘Meditation at Lagunitas’ by Robert Hass

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Drawing translucency or 40 holes a minute: Nathan Young

40 holes per minute, 21,600 holes per day and the lack of a thimble, was this really an idea worth pursuing? If I've learnt anything; pay more attention to Grandma - running a pin through your hair makes life so much easier. 

Monday, February 27, 2012

Light in the Antarctic: Margaret Elliot

Freeze Frame 1

 The pressure ridge reared up like a frozen wave threatening to break as we walked along it into a distance of shifting cloud shadows. I am still fiddling with this work, must stop. 
500 x 2000 mm.
Freeze frame 2

This work recreates some memorable light effects I experienced outside Scott Base at 1 in the morning. The photos I took didn’t really do it (I often find bad photos make a good starting point for a painting). 
300mm x1500 mm

Freeze Frame 3  

This currently looks like a collapsed Pavlova. It is currently being made less distinct and hopefully more translucent. Watch this space

Freeze Frame 3a  

Light effects …… If I only had time 

The studio with the works under construction -- still tweaking.

Friday, February 24, 2012

We all know that photographs can lie, but what about half-truths?

Somewhere between the public face and the private, lies a translucent presence neither transparent nor opaque. Neither entirely true nor completely false. Much like contemporary social media.

Photographs have been a social media for over one hundred and fifty years. Over the period, contemplation of the mundane has revealed great depth of meaning and beauty.

I see photographic translucence not as a diaphanous form but as partially resolved meaning.The photograph may be sharp but is sited between the private and the public. Each of us brings to the image our own perception.

My personal photography transverses this social translucent landscape - revealing only clues to the true state of the material and the personal. With the exhibition as a catalyst, over the past month I have explored the personal spaces of my family, letting their domestic landscapes reveal something of their lives.

Tony Kellaway

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Backstory

On the 17th of December Helen, Poppy and I went on an overnight trip to Matiu/Somes Island. The trip was many things: a workbook collective Christmas party, a belated birthday celebration, and last, a farewell to a dear teacher, mentor, fellow artist and friend off on a new adventure. Alas, she could not join us.

Since we were butting up against our upcoming exhibition, Translucent Landscapes, it was only natural this was at the forefront of our mind and therefore directed conversation and exploration. We spent much of the day researching through filming and photographing, discovering many extraordinary visual feasts, in all sorts of interesting places. It was exhilarating to be absorbed and to respond. In my case, it was in the micro worlds and moments that I discovered. The weekend was a consolidation and followed previous research.
A southerly blow had us limited to the Forest and Bird house, late on the Saturday afternoon. Where we managed to get very merry on some rather good wine and become obsessed with completing a jigsaw puzzle. The 9:30 light curfew didn’t stop us, we were jigsaw possessed, using headlamps to carry on. Poppy sensibly bid us goodnight - Helen and I were convinced of the benefits of jigsaw in relation to our art practice, a distilling of form, colour, problem solving, and composition. How you can get stuck on a piece, believing it to part of some whole but it just doesn’t fit.

Jigsaw Demon Photo by Poppy Leknar
I work in a rather convoluted way; I tend to dig holes for multiple seedlings rather than a single tree. I am slightly sheepish about bringing up Gilles Deleuze and FĂ©lix Guattaris’ philosophical concept the Rhizome. Because, quite frankly I haven’t read and absorbed enough to be able to make a critical analysis of how it relates. Only that I am very drawn to its concepts in regard to application of thought processes.

I tend to work with a number of parallel ideas in an organic Deluezian fashion rather than a sequential development from a single source idea. Follows is a sample of activity from my workbook.

My main project will be an installation. The model below doesn’t translate well in photo form, due its static quality. Whereas, the piece involves the viewer’s body to activate what occurs within the space.

In this project, I have enjoyed the play with the materiality of translucency and am using it as a mechanism to create a sensory space where people can travel their own landscape through their perception of what is presented to them. This may occur through triggers such as memory, emotions, imagination or physical, exploration or perhaps more. My challenge is setting up an environment where a lot of in-betweens exist. It’s untested but hey, that’s what the Fringe Festival is about.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Come along tomorrow and Saturday Night to the following free Fringe Shows- love to see you there! 
BRIGHTER FUTURE- by Mike Ting: Fri 10th Feb. 4 min loop (9-12pm). Majoribanks St side of the Embassy Theatre (outside). Free!
FEATURE-LESS - by Poppy Lekner: Sat 11th Feb 10.30-11pm. Paramount Theatre. Koha/Free!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Detail from photo by Herbert Ponting 2/12/1911
 Ice, the element that dominates all life in Antarctica and turns what would be a archipelago into a vast expansive continent 3,820,000 square kilometres larger than Europe. I have found this vital element of Antarctica surprisingly hard to write a musical composition on. The main problem is that Antarctica is a very quite desolate place, and only a few people have any form of emotional attachment to the place, also I have never been there. So instead of trying to write a tone poem about a place that I have only ever seen on the TV screen, I have instead decided to try and capture the feelings that the early explorers of Antarctica would have felt visiting the white continent. I'm working on an instrumental piece for mandolin, violin and guitar which we'll perform on the opening night.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Layering Clouds

Helen Reynolds 2012

Moist air rises up to meet a layer of cool air - a cloud condendses.. Layers of air swirl above us and clouds mark the movement, a different shape for each layer.
Here in Wellington the hills constrict the sky. The motorway is one of the best places to see as many clouds as you can, see them rising drifting on the currents. In particular the motorway's raised fly-overs. But I have found that getting absorbed by the clouds when driving is almost as dangerous as texting while driving and I have had to give it up.
I am cutting layers of paper to make clouds for the exhibition, tracking the expansion, drifting and dissipation of clouds in each layer.
I come out of the studio, absorbed again, and ask my daughter if she can hang the clouds out on the line to dry. She looks puzzled, but decides to get the laundry out instead.

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. 

Thursday, January 12, 2012


Images: Molly Samsell, January 2012

Study for site specific photographic excavations

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Translucent Landscapes conquers space and time

Translucent Landscapes has found a space for exhibiting! It was a bit nerve wracking to declare an opening time without an actual space, but now time and space are in sync. In fact, we have two sites!
We will be exhibiting at 75 Ghuznee St, directly opposite The French Art Shop and adjacent to Glover Park. The premises, previously an optometry clinic, make a really exciting space with plenty of individual spaces for projecting video art and creating site responsive installations as well as fabulous light filled rooms for paintings and photographs.
Translucent Landscapes will also be exhibiting at the Thistle Hall Lightbox on Arthur St. The Lightbox is a great site, always open and part of the city.

We would like to thank the owners Sonja Newby and Wayne Lane for their sponsorship and support of this exhibition. We are also grateful for the support of Creative New Zealand Kakano funding, The Fringe and Thistle Hall.
The group of artists participating has also reached an exciting stage. We now have a fantastic group of talented people from many disciplines creating work for the exhibition:
Margaret Elliot, Iain Gordon, Katherine Joyce-Kellaway, Tony Kellaway, Doris Lindstrom,  Poppy Lekner, Mary McCallum, Helen Reynolds, Molly Samsell, Mike Ting and Nathan Young.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Image: Poppy Lekner, November 2012

Starting to think about filtered intimacy, and experience of distance and proximity. Attempts at reconnecting and finding/observing edges and boundaries in space through points/fields of contact.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


Translucent Landscapes is searching for space to exhibit in. We are excited by this empty optometry space - tell us if you know an empty space that might be available, we would love to hear about it.

Mature Cumulonimbus

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Doris Lindstrom

Image: Doris Lindstrom

This work by Doris Lindstrom is a layering of several draiwngs of the landscape surrounding Doris. She says "I am always looking - then seemingly all of a sudden the place I live has changed with shapes, trees, other things...This stuff surrounds you all your life and it enters your subconscious.The tree has organised itself so it goes around beautifully. In winter they are spikey but week by week, once you get to the greenery there are so many shpaes within it... you have to live with it for a while. It is not necessarily cerebral, its a feeling"