When I was a child, our grandparents would travel eight hours to visit us at Christmas time. Nana was a caterer and she would bring a load of sweet treats like her peanut brownies and melting moments so soft they would melt in your mouth. Poppa was a real life Santa Claus – him and Nana would often give presents to Birthright kids. So when we heard they were coming for Christmas we got super excited. Mum tried to get us to clean the house, but we would spend more time looking out the window and trying to be the first kid to see them coming down the road.
I have often thought that God is like that with us. Jesus told the parable of the lost (prodigal) son, which is really about a forgiving father. In Middle Eastern culture it is undignified to run, especially to greet someone who has dishonored the family, yet this father runs to meet his lost son.
Perhaps you are like Sarah who laughed in disbelief when she got the promise of a son in her old age, or like Hannah fervently waiting for a child. Maybe you are like Anna and Simeon waiting to see the promised Messiah. Or Mary or Martha. The lyrics are deliberately ambiguous as to who is singing to who – perhaps God is waiting at the window for you to return to him or to meet with him again. Perhaps he is like the grandparents coming with presents and good things to meet with you.
G D Em C
When I heard you were coming I could hardly believe it I was so excited I had trouble sleeping
The house was a mess Floor needed sweeping But my nose was at the window Looking for you
You were bearing gifts But the treasure I was seeking The greatest gift of all To be in your Presence
The news of your advent Had me joyful weeping Overwhelming hope of spending Time with you
With the plethora of conspiracy theories floating around, perhaps you need a tinfoil hat to prevent mind control by governments, spies, or paranormal beings that employ ESP or the microwave auditory effect. While these hats might or might not offer this kind of protection, they at least are more fashionable than the proverbial tin foil hat which resembles a dunce cap.
I tested the hats ability to block electromagnetic signals to my phone but they failed, mainly because the phone was larger than the hats, but it is likely that the thickness of the aluminium was not sufficient.
Over the last few weeks, I have written and refined this comical song where the chords spell out the major lyrics. Or perhaps, the major lyrics tell you which chords to play. The above video is an early demo version of the song with the chords and lyrics.
I have written several other songs and instrumental pieces and I hope that these will eventually be recorded and published.
I had many scissors left over from my acquisition of relinquished scissors from the New Zealand Aviation Security Service for my Rock, Paper, Scissors sculptures and so I was experimenting with shapes I could form with scissors and stumbled upon an avian shape.
With many forgetful passengers relinquishing scissors and other hazardous items at airport security gates, creating sculptures that reminded people to be careful when flying seemed obvious. Four harmonious pairs of scissors are wired together for each sculpture.
Due to size, comfort and safety issues, it is not recommended to fly with scissors. With their aerodynamics, they would most likely fly like sheep and rather plummet. If the scissors could fly, I imagine they would soar similar to this video:
Like most of my work, Don’t Run With Scissors is a visual pun and pokes fun at both the art world and luxury sneaker consumers with a single impractical but wearable shoe sculpture made from scissors.
I had acquired a large number of relinquished scissors from the New Zealand Aviation Security Service for my Rock, Paper, Scissors sculptures. With the remaining scissors I started to create some other sculptures, the most obvious ones being the aircraft/bird shaped Don’t Fly With Scissors. While constructing these, my thoughts progressed to the childhood warning “Don’t Run With Scissors” and thus formed the idea of creating an impractical running shoe made with scissors.
Creating the shoe
Using my own foot as a model for the proportions, I wired together scissors to get the basic shape and then at the Ashburton MenzShed, I bent and welded the scissors into place. I then used waxed thread and the plastic handles of a pair of scissors to form the laces. After this I created a tongue/upper of the shoe from layers of paper which I glued and then hand stitched a waxed thread edging. I hand embroidered the logo onto more layered paper and attached this to the shoe. I wrapped thread around any wires connecting the scissors to hide them and make the shoe slightly more comfortable.
Creating the branding and shoebox
I checked the translation of scissors in as many languages as I could and the Hungarian word for scissors, olló, was the word that I thought most resembled a pair of scissors and had the potential for a shoe brand.
Using papier-mâché I recycled and exaggerated a shoebox to fit the shoe and serve as a plinth for the sculpture. Acrylic paint and inkjet prints of the logos and labels give the box the look of an authentic product. The QR code on the price label can be decoded to a link to this article about the sculpture on the artist’s website. The pricing is that of the sculpture and is deliberately ridiculous in fitting with the range of luxury sneakers – shoes that are ridiculously expensive and designed to look like running shoes, but not intended for running in.
Wearing the shoe
The shoe is a tight fit for my left foot and so the sizing is equivalent to 46 EU / 12 UK / 13 US / 29.5 CM. During the sculpting of the shoe, it has also fitted my right foot but is currently too difficult to put on. Walking with the shoe is possible, but slightly uncomfortable. It has the feeling of a heavy boot. Running while wearing the shoe has not been attempted and is not recommended as it may damage the shoe or the surroundings.
Exhibiting the shoe
This sculpture has been entered into the Ashburton Society of the Arts 2021 Annual Exhibition at the Ashburton Art Gallery. The exhibition runs from the opening on Monday 5 July 2021 to Friday 30 July 2021.
I was recently on stage again in Variety Theatre Ashburton’s Its Only Rock ‘n’ Roll Baby. Featuring over 30 songs, the show had the tagline “The Songs we Sing to, Dance to, Laugh to and Cry to” and it did that with songs grouped into brackets such as The Flirtys, Country Classics, One Hit Wonders, Love Hurts Sometimes, Kiwi Classics and Inspirational. A bracket of songs on domestic violence titled “It’s Not OK EVER” was emotionally powerful and to lighten the mood it followed with the audience singing along to Sweet Caroline and Delilah. I played the role of a reluctant volunteer beside an overly enthusiastic volunteer with cue cards for the songs.
Ashburton Online has more photos of the show on Flickr.
As you can see from the above photos, I played a variety of mostly comedic roles – Loser Sidekick, Disinterested Cue Card Holder, Tough Guy, Zombie, Pretty Girl, Jim and a Balloon Boy in the Just One More bracket. There were several quick costume changes as well as makeup for some complete transformations. Curling my hair took ages was worth it for the laughs when I turned around in Pretty Girl.
The show was enjoyed by all those I talked to and local media published some reviews.
30 Year Hiatus
It has been about 30 years since I last performed on stage, so it was great to get back into singing, dancing and acting. As a child I was incredibly shy, but since being involved in theatre I have overcome the fear of performing in public and during this show I was never nervous. I am keen to join the next production – auditions are being held soon for JC Superstar.
Coincidentally just after opening night, a video of the show that first got me started in theatre was shared on YouTube [warning: 2.5 hours of low quality audio and video]. I never saw Woodville Little Theatre’s show Brylcreem live in 1986, but rumour about the show and after-party motivated me to want to join the back stage crew for their next production. With this in mind I went along to rehearsals of Streetcats in 1988 intending to be in the background but I got cast in the show and made my debut on stage.
What do you do when someone gives you knitting needles? You knit with them. So I started knitting them into a sculpture.
The knitting needles were a mix of individual plastic and metal needles with different colors and sizes. The metal needles were quite pliable and relatively easy to knit with.
Some of the plastic knitting needles were brittle and so they snapped into multiple pieces and flew around the room when I tried to knit them and so I have threaded them into the weave. Softening the rest of the plastic and metal knitting needles in boiling water helped for coiling them into a ball.
Choose your drama: Tragic Comedy or Comedic Tragedy
At the Ashburton Society of the Arts’ Monday Art and Craft group, we each received a wooden disc and were challenged to create something with the theme of faces. Above is my contribution, based on ancient theatre masks, with the faces painted on each face of the disc and “Choose your drama: Tragic Comedy or Comedic Tragedy” written, with my signature, on the edge.
This artwork is also practical. For those who struggle with procrastination, it doubles as a huge coin when you need help deciding how to face the drama of the day. Will your day be tragic or comedic or both?
The Ashburton Art Gallery currently has an exhibit of Mount Hutt College Year 10 Students’ work inspired by The Chair by Philip Clairmont. We went to the opening of this exhibit and it was fascinating see the work and to hear how the students had developed the work.
The gallery has the original of The Chair also on display and is running an activity for the public to submit their own artwork inspired by The Chair. Below is my submission based on Clairmont’s work and the Clairmont Swivel/Rocker Chair by Kincaid Furniture Company, Inc.
I recently shredded years of old bank statements and recycled some of them into these statements of the different hands in economics, trade and giving.
Open handed (right)
Using an outline of my right hand traced onto cardboard, I built up the sculpture, gluing individual strips of shredded bank statements. The right hand is light weight, but firm.
Depending on your politics, you might see those on the political right as tight fisted and money grabbing, but instead I have portrayed the right as open handed, giving and receiving, serving each other. Not a hand out begging, but lending a hand to mutually help each other.
Tight fisted (left)
I pasted individual strips of shredded bank statements on my closed left fist and then carefully removed the sculpture and filled the hollow fist with more shredded bank statements before applying further strips to the outside. The left hand is heavier but softer than the right.
Again, depending on your politics, you might see those on the political left with an open hand sharing the wealth and giving to those in need. Instead I have portrayed the left as a fist, raised in angry defiance. Grabbing for money and power at the expense of others.
The invisible hand
Between the two hand sculptures is an invisible hand. In economics, the invisible hand is a metaphor for unseen forces that move the free market economy. We cannot see what the invisible hand is doing. Perhaps it is open handed, perhaps a closed fist, perhaps something in between giving a rude gesture.
The Bible has a lot to say about money. This verse is apt.
‘But when you give to someone in need, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. ‘