Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Frances Hodgkins, artist: portrait by Jan Bolwell

Frances Hodgkins, artist. Sounds straightforward? By no means! She was born in colonial Dunedin, New Zealand, in 1869, and died in 1947 aged 78.

J.C. Beaglehole explains why her achievements were so significant, her lifetime struggle so fraught.

n a new play, Double Portrait: Finding Frances Hodgkins, Jan Bolwell shows this very private woman convincingly and movingly. A small play paints a big psychological portrait with colour, shape, light and shade.

DOUBLE PORTRAIT: Finding Frances Hodgkins is coming to the New Zealand Portrait Gallery, Shed 11, Wellington Waterfront.
November 27, November 28 at 6pm, December 4, December 5 at 6pm.Bookings at Downstage Theatre 4 shows only.

Frances Hodgkins' works in the Tate Gallery

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Antipodes: irresistible domestic travelogue

Antipodes by Mark Price.

Maybe you noticed an old lady gently colliding with a magnolia tree and a concrete power pole today. Maybe you noticed those orange-clad hole-diggers leaping away from her trajectory in alarm. Maybe you wondered what book had her so fixated that she was blind and deaf to her surroundings. She was not living in the moment but in a new book.

OK, that was me, and the book was Antipodes: the Ingenious and Exhilarating Expedition of El Lider and La Campana by Mark Price. (Sorry, I can't do macrons or squiggles over the n of Campana. I hope I haven't ruined the effect.)

The premise: A "modestly capable man" plans a modestly capable adventure, exploring the antipodes of 20 "Perfect Places" in his own antipodes, namely New Zealand.

The execution: Perfect Prose. Darling Deadpan. Magnificently ego-free travel writing, with happy whiffs of Toad Hall, Three Men in a Boat and Louis de Bernière's recent charmer, Nothwithstanding.

As I read and walked simultaneously, proving yet again that I'm a woman of many talents, I noticed my stride had a floating, lolloping quality, echoing the rhythm of Mark Price's good plain English.

Sheer pleasure inside a satisfying cardboard cover.

Half of today's wealthy babies will live past 100: study

Half wealthy nations' newborns could live to 100, according to a recent Danish study.

Hard to believe! And it hasn't happened yet. Disbelief bubbles up automatically because this notion clashes wildly with the current state of affairs:
Only about one in 10,000 people lives to be over 100 years old, says Niz Barzilai, director of the Institute for Aging research at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

That quote's from "20 things you didn't know about ageing" on -- but I can't tell how old the story is, can you?

The wellderly and the illderly: these two new words stress the gulf between one 70- or 80-year-old and the next. I think I was born in a brilliant era, with so much information and choices to supplement the sheer luck of the genes.

Old age? Bring it on!

Mosaic numbers by Duncan on Flickr