Monday, 24 December 2012

Making a start in New Zealand

Do you remember that this blog is called ‘burntofferings’? 
Well I am keeping up my reputation and have here is a picture of the latest offering:

Christmas cup cakes - well browned!

These Christmas cupcakes were baked in the oven of our rented house. In my defence the oven seems to have no temperature control, either on or off! So cooking and baking is an interesting affair at the moment, and for once, not all my fault.
I hope they still taste good, they certainly smell very festive, as they are our alternative Xmas cake this year. 

Mostly, December has been taken up with preparing to move from the UK to New Zealand. New Zealand, for good reasons, has very strict biosecurity rules which meant that every item which has been in contact with soil in the UK had to be thoroughly washed and disinfected, any organic matter had to be sealed or disposed of, therefore any furniture and ornaments which are wood had to be treated with sealant, the loft was sorted through again, another huge pile of give away/throw away items were sorted out and once the removal men had been, packed everything then taken it away on a container to start it’s long slow journey to New Zealand, the house had to be cleaned, nail holes filled etc. 

Just a few of the boxes, and this was only my workroom.

Sadly, because of the economic climate at the moment, the house is still for sale or rent, it would be a neater emotional position to be in if we had a buyer. But it will happen eventually, and the clearing out process has helped me to feel less attached to the property. When you spend a lot of time, energy, money and bring a family up in a home, saying goodbye to it can be a wrench, especially as we can’t start finding a new home to buy in NZ until the one in the UK has sold. 

2012 has also been a waiting game in terms of the future of the Beetroot Tree, the gallery I have developed and worked at since 1999. Moving to New Zealand meant that we needed to explore solutions to keep the gallery open, to continue to provide the home from home for our regular friends and a space for exhibiting and selling contemporary art and designer crafts. I would love everyone to either visit the gallery itself or the website, or the facebook page if you are too far away for a personal visit and welcome our new partner, Paul Storer. Paul has had the dream, as do so many people, of developing a creative space and gallery, for some time, and the time was right for him to jump on board and give the Beetroot Tree a sound and energetic footing for the future. You can see some of his photography on his site. Getting to know Paul and him agreeing to become a partner has allowed me to be very settled and happy knowing that I am leaving the gallery in very capable hands. I will be in constant touch with Paul and other members of the team so feel included in the continuous work of the gallery (Though I expect that it will be harder to buy so much artwork as I am used to doing). I will be writing for the Beetroot Tree Blog on a regular basis, so please sign up to that as well to hear news about our events and artists.
I have just had a very excited email from Hannah to say that a new delivery of Fair Trade textiles and clothes has been sent by Jo Hall of ‘Bazaar’. Jo’s collection was extremely popular in our recent exhibition and I am waiting eagerly to see what goes on line as I will have to reserve a selection to be sent to me in NZ as soon as possible.

Having arrived in NZ I have devoted the month to settling in, getting a drivers licence, a bank card, a tax code and everything else sorted and making preparations for Xmas.
We hope to have Xmas on the beach, though with the tail end of a tropical storm working it’s way across the island, we may not manage it. However the last 2 weeks have been the most fabulous weather and we have enjoyed that along with the honeysuckle,  jasmine and trachelospermum  which scent the air.
I am learning some new pronunciations and words. I am quite proud to be able to say ‘Aotearoa’ (the Maori name for New Zealand – and so much prettier than the European one!), and the name of the New Zealand Christmas tree, so called as it flowers profusely in the early summer, glorious bright red flowers looking like tinsel on the trees. They are the pohutukawa trees.

The bright red flowers of the Pohutukawa tree

There are many beautiful flowers and plants around me which I hope to study and be inspired by. I do feel particularly drawn to the large blue and white alliums which unfold from their 'pods'.

Allium emerging (1)

Allium emerging (2)

The only piece of equipment I have with me is the embellisher, so it was put to use with some scraps of fabrics to make cards and a small piece for a present. 

Embellished and stitched panel with metal and wire.
Embellished backing, stitch, woven metal and sea glass from the beach to make a small hanging.

Whilst sans equipment and materials I am determined to put this time towards drawing, sketching, making notes and gathering ideas in preparation for new works.
I also have the words to write for the book as the first draft with the photographs from the session at Search Press arrived in the post this week.
I have said it before, it is the chance meetings in life which can lead to some of the most exciting developments, and who is to know where this one will lead – yesterday we were at a get together with a family we have got to know and Brian, my husband, got talking to a man who it turns out is in the same line of work. Not too unexpected as the mutual friend is also in a similar area. However, it transpired that his wife, having been an opera singer, is now an art administrator for a gallery and also for an arts consultant who lives in the same bay as we do!! We will definitely be meeting up for coffee and a chat after the holidays!

I have added a few dates of workshops and talks which I have booked in New Zealand, have a look if you might wan to attend them. 
For now, I wish you a happy, creative holiday. Enjoy yourselves.