The Wellingtonista

Random stuff about Wellington since 2005

Zig-zag Texts

by Tom on October 2, 2014 in Books, Events, Suburbs

BridgCover - Thorndon by Kirsty Gunnet Williams Books publishes a series called BWB Texts, “short books on big subjects by great New Zealand writers”, and two new ones will be launched next Thursday at Unity Books. Martin Edmond’s ‘Barefoot Years’ recounts childhood memories of life near Ohakune, while ‘Thorndon: Wellington and Home, My Katherine Mansfield Project’ by Kirsty Gunn (‘Rain’, ‘The Big Music’) will be of particular interest to Wellingtonians. This slim book “zig-zags across Thorndon streets, Wellington hills and New Zealand childhoods to explore the meaning of home,” and you can join Gunn with her zig-zagging for a walking tour of Thorndon on Wednesday the 8th.

Thorndon’s not just about political gossip, right-wing alpacas and the long shadow of Te Ahumairangi Hill. Our own Alf Rune has teased out some of the stories—of lawyers’ duels, “Gay Going’s-on”, bohemian affairs and expressionist Brutalism—that lie under the genteel suburban surface. I like to think that the publisher’s choice of the phrase “zig-zags” is a reference to “the asphalt zigzag where the fennel grows wild” in Mansfield’s ‘The Wind Blows’: a path that Alf also traversed on his trek between skyways and underpasses. Gunn is an incisive writer, and I’m no doubt that both the book and the tour will delve deeply into the rich veins of meaning beneath Thorndon’s zig-zagging streets.

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I’ve heard the complaints; World of Wearable Arts – WOW is for women of a certain age and is far too expensive. I’d not been to the show before so I couldn’t confirm or deny, but oh wow are those people wrong. To start with WOW to me was 2 experiences seamless melded together, and also a marking of Spring in our City

First the Competition itself (which is what you think WOW is solely about but you’d be wrong) where some truly amazing garments go up against each other in 8 Sections, with a Supreme Winner being named best of the best. For 2014 the Brancott Estate Supreme WOW Award went to Poly Nation by Kate MacKenzie of Hawkes Bay.

I’m a fan of vintage and second hand, but Kate’s manipulation of leather and cardboard suitcases to create 2 wearable and functional garments along with a cycle wheel powered Waka, is fantastical. That someone even thinks to do that, that’s one thing, that they then do it and it’s finishing is impeccable (it doesn’t come across as a mess of hot glue or bits of string barely holding things together) feels like crazy genius territory. In both the construction of the Garment and in the message it conveyed particular to post colonial NZ and our myriads of tourists, this is Art. Not something pretty, not something kooky or fun but actual art. Art that fits on a body and can withstand being worn night after night for 15 shows.

That’s just the winner; the other 166 entries work with textiles and transform materials into a textile in a myriad of ways. Could you imagine a bra, a functional bra made out of skateboards? Not me, but yes it’s possible and Re-Decked by Sebastian Denize, New Zealand won the ever popular Bizarre Bra Section which returned after a break in 2013.

Re-Decked_Sebastian Denize_New Zealand. Photo credit: World of WearableArtTM Ltd

Re-Decked_Sebastian Denize_New Zealand. Photo credit: World of WearableArtTM Ltd

The second experience is a whole other thing. A fantastical show featuring 42 of NZ best and emerging modern dancers performing to choreography by Malia Johnston (WOW® Artistic Director and Principal Choreographer since 2002) and Leading New Zealand dancer and choreographer Tanemahuta Gray. It’s very infrequently that NZ dancers are given such an expansive stage to perform on, so it’s a real treat seeing how they leap and move across the stage. Add to that 8 aerialists and 28 special performers, which includes an amazing feat of no hands, upside down feet only archery. Finally the mix of with some Shaolin Monks and NZ’s Strike ensemble and you have a stage show bigger than anything Broadway could ever offer in one night.

I loved how WOW magically mixed those 2 experiences to create their wonderful world of garment competition and stage show. It’s like nothing I’ve seen before and as the lights came up all I could think was ‘again, again’

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There are three shows on in Wellington this week that are absolutely worth your time and money. An unseasonable fall of snow at Circa Theatre, and God-Belly and Everything is surrounded by water at BATS Theatre.

I feel like An unseasonable fall of snow should come with a content warning however that would give away the twist in the narrative so I can’t. It’s the most visually stark of the three pieces – a white, mostly bare with a table, two chairs centre stage. A small table with coffee is to the side. The story is that Arthur (Jed Brophy) is interrogating Liam (Riley Brophy) about a crime/s that he may or may not have committed, or been a party to. Jed spends most of his time with one hand in his pocket and the other holding his glasses. I found this a bit jarring, but it fits with his character as revealed late in the piece. Riley is nicely sullen or agitated as Liam. The script by Gary Henderson has some excellent oneliners. Some of the people I went with were very surprised by the twist  (the clues are there all the way through if you’re a suspicious audience member like me.)

God-Belly is completely different.  The set is a square of judo mats with packets of toasted crumpets scattered around the edge. There are two stories – one of Jude and her boyfriend George and their fasting process, and one of Sister Catherine and her penchant for penance as witnessed by Father Raymond. It’s performed by an Auckland duo – Rosie Tapsell and Andrew Gunn. Both extremely fit, they play multiple characters in the two stories that explore faith, denial, acceptable obsessions, body image, struggle, the drive to be ‘better’, and ritual in daily life. It’s astoundingly physical. It’s also wordy, funny, and heartbreaking. This is Pressure Point Collective’s first production – I’m really looking forward to seeing what this company does next.

(Content warning for self-harming behaviours; disordered eating.)

Everything is surrounded by water is a good example of how something simple can have a great effect. A monologue by Uther Dean and Hannah Banks, it’s performed by Dean with Banks directing. It is one man telling us how he got his soul back but Dean is such a charming storyteller that it becomes very personal, even within the confines to the blackbox of BATS. Alternately twinkly and serious he tells us he has been directed to stay in the chair as he becomes too animated when he stands. He warns us that things are going to get dark – and they do. (A note of appreciation to the lighting design in this show.) A spellbinding ending.

(Content warning for descriptions of violence and suicidal behaviour.)

All three recommended viewing.

N.B. God-Belly is 2 hours long; Everything is surrounded by water is 70 mins long. I saw them on the same night. If I had more space in my calendar I’d go to see them both again.

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Miramar_Peninsula_aerialHackMiramarWellington is running its first Civic Hackathon the first weekend of November to tackle transport issues in and around Eastern Suburbs and the wider city. The Hack Miramar folks have got a bunch of people involved already and they’ve got spots open if you want to join in and they’re looking for freaks, geeks, and companies that want to showcase their Smart City and Internet of Things devices, so get in.

A group of like-minded individuals are coming together on the 1st and 2nd of November this year to participate in Wellington’s first Civic Hackathon. A hackathon is an intensive session where a group of people are giving a civic problem, data, tools, and bring their own skills & resources to solve that problem. Hackathon comes from merging “hack” and “marathon”.

If you’re not a developer, data geek or planner then all good as you can drop your Peninsula transport ideas on the interactive map that will be used to inspire and challenge the teams that come together on the weekend.

A number of sponsors have come forward already and are providing them with raw data and sensing devices that we can utilise to capture data that has otherwise been unavailable. They want more of course, so if you have hardware in the Internet of Things and Sensing area, they’d love you to loan it to them in the run up to, and over the weekend, so that they can play with it.

While this has been branded a “Miramar” Hackathon it is open to everyone within the Wellington region. They expect that, if this is successful, future hackathons can be established across the city to solve various problems and tackle challenges. The long term goal of these events is to help Wellington City become “Smart”, as in Smart or Sensing City. That is, using people, ideas, art, technology, and a slew of other factors to increase the happiness, well-being, and productiveness of a city.

You can register here and vendors who want to help out can contact them here.

(Today’s post comes to us from former ‘ista Miramar Mike. Thanks Mike!)

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