You’ve got mail

Back in May, I built a mailbox for the Ashburton Society of Arts to save them the annual cost of a PO Box.

Postbox, front, reclaimed materials sculpture,

Constructed from the frame of an old microwave, pallet offcuts, a roasting dish and the rubber from an electrical cable the mailbox not only saves in the cost of new parts, but also saves these items from the landfill. The PVC tube is round on the front and rectangular on the back and was sculpted into this unique shape with heat. Painted postbox red, the mailbox is attached to the fence at the Art Society’s Gallery and Studio at 53 Short St, Ashburton.

Postbox front/side
Postbox front/side
Postbox rear
Postbox inside
Mailbox installed at 53 Short St.
Mailbox installed at 53 Short St.

The mailbox was entered in the 2022 Resene Upcycling Awards.

Get your art online workshop

I’ve been helping artists get their art online since 1998. To help local artists get online, I ran a workshop at the Ashburton Art Society studio on 29 October.

Workshop promo, digital image

The workshop covered using social media and websites to share and sell art online. We started by looking at what online presence the artists already had and how to increase their online presence.

We then looked at creating content and sharing this via social media as well as joining art communities online so more people could view their art.

As a result of the workshop, the artists now all have Facebook pages (or improved Facebook pages) and are exploring other ways to share their art online. They have had a month to post content so explore their art and encourage them by following them here:

Annie Robertson Art

Artist – Sue Simpson – New Zealand

Barbara Jaine Artist

John Achten Artist

Rach jemmett ART

Sally Hughes Art

Zdena’s Art

I am planning to run another workshop in 2023.

Advent Song

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.

Advent song, 5 min live video recording, Sunday 19 December 2021

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.

Chords/Lyrics:

G D Em C

Verse 1

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 

Verse 2

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

Chorus 

Emanuel 
Emanuel 

God 
made Man
With us
To dwell 

Emanuel 
God
With us
Jesus 

Emanuel 
Emanuel 

Bridge

Am Em

And you came running 
And swept me in your arms

Egg Faced – A song where the chords spell the major lyrics

Egg Faced, video (lyrics, chords and music) 2:22
Egg faced single cover, digital image

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.

Don’t Fly With Scissors

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.

Don’t Fly With Scissors #1, Red and black scissors/wire, 27 x 33 x 7 cm
Don’t Fly With Scissors #2, Blue, red and black scissors/wire, 30 x 30 x 6 cm

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:

Don’t Fly With Scissors Flying, video 1:48 (no audio)

Don’t Run With Scissors

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.

Don’t Run With Scissors, scissors/paper/thread sculpture approx 22 x 33 x 25 cm

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.

Don’t Run With Scissors shoebox lid, paper/inkjet print/acrylic paint, approx 22 x 33 x 3 cm

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.

Wearing the Don’t Run With Scissors sculpture

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.

On stage

It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll Baby

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Time Warp. Photo by Ashburton Online.

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.

It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll Baby Programme
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In the Dungeon (dressing room). Photo by Ashburton Online.
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And then I kissed her. Photo by Ashburton Online.
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Trouble. Photo by Ashburton Online.
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Time Warp. Photo by Ashburton Online.
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Pretty Girl. Photo by Ashburton Online.
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Don’t mess around with Jim. Photo by Ashburton Online.
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Don’t mess around with Kim. Photo by Ashburton Online.

Ashburton Online has more photos of the show on Flickr.

Roles

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.

Reviews

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.

Knitting Needles

One of the ladies at the Ashburton Society of the Arts Monday Art and Craft group gave me some unwanted knitting needles for recycling.

What do you do when someone gives you knitting needles? You knit with them. So I started knitting them into a sculpture.

Knitting Needles, metal and plastic knitting needles, 36x10x22 cm
Knitting Needles, metal and plastic knitting needles, 36x10x22 cm

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.

Knitting Needles (rear view), metal and plastic knitting needles, 36x10x22 cm
Knitting Needles (rear view), metal and plastic knitting needles, 36x10x22 cm

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.

Face the drama

What will you face today?

Choose your drama: Tragic Comedy or Comedic Tragedy

Face the Drama – Tragedy, acrylic on wooden disc
Face the Drama – Comedy, acrylic on wooden disc

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?

This painting is currently in the exhibition at the Ashburton Society of the Arts‘ Summer Exhibition (21 Feb – 21 March 2021).

Hand me the money

Hand me the money, shredded paper, 10 x 6 x 12 cm + 10 x 22 x 5 cm

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.

Hands apart
Hands together
Hand in hand

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. ‘

Matthew 6:3 NLT