Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Parish News

Media release – for immediate release

Auckland Writers Festival Launches Literary Foundation

A new Foundation established by the Auckland Writers Festival aims to strengthen Aotearoa’s literary landscape. 

The Mātātuhi Foundation, launched this evening, will provide opportunities for New Zealand writers to develop and promote their works and for readers to increase their engagement with the work of local writers and will fund activities that contribute to literacy in this country.

Auckland Writers Festival Chair, Pip Muir says the launch of the Mātātuhi Foundation is the next step in the realisation of a long-held dream. 

“When the Festival began almost 20 years’ ago, meetings were held around a kitchen table. Since then, the appetite to engage with writers from New Zealand and around the world has grown exponentially and with it the opportunity to deepen our commitment to our literary landscape.

“It is absolutely fantastic that the Festival has reached a point where it can further contribute to the national reading and writing community. We are thrilled to be able support the nation’s literature with the launch of this ground-breaking initiative.”

The Foundation will operate independently of the Auckland Writers Festival Trust and initially aims to make up to ten one-off grants of $2000 - $5000 per year whilst building an endowment platform to support its long-term endeavours.

Inaugural Committee members are professional director and senior finance executive Anne Blackburn (Chair), writer and academic Paula Morris, Festival Trust Board Chair and lawyer Pip Muir, Auckland Writers Festival Director Anne O’Brien and country head of Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand and Book Council board member Peter Vial.

Ms Blackburn says she relishes the opportunity to work with an organisation that supports New Zealand literature. 
“I very much look forward to receiving applications from groups that seek to engage more readers and also from our writers, whose words and ideas enrich our lives.”

Applicants are invited to submit expressions of interest twice a year, with deadlines of 31 October and 31 May. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Kipling for pleasure and profit

A job  advertisement on LinkedIn:

WiTH Collective is growing. We’re looking for talented creatives to grow with us. 

It’s been a pretty amazing first 12 months at WiTH NZ. Now, we’re looking for a copywriter and art director to add to our great culture and talented group.  

You’re right for this role if you are smart, problem-solving creatives, full of ideas, enthusiasm and ambition. If you can apply your creative skills to film, personalised video, creating products, eDM’s, outdoor, banner ads, and treat these all with equal care and love. If you want to make work that wins hearts and awards. If you think you’d thrive in a collaborative agency. If you have three or more years of experience in a similar environment. If you’re the kind of person who would never forget their mum’s birthday. If you can think quickly. 

To put it another way:

If you are smart, problem-solving creatives, full of ideas, enthusiasm and ambition;
If you can apply your creative skills to film, personalised video, creating products, eDM’s, outdoor, banner ads, and treat these all with equal care and love;
If you want to make work that wins hearts and awards;
If you think you’d thrive in a collaborative agency;
If you have three or more years of experience in a similar environment;
If you’re the kind of person who would never forget their mum’s birthday;
If you can think quickly;
Then, copywriter and art director, you’re right for this role.

Maurice Ravel, Le Tombeau de Couperin
Berliner Philharmoniker
Pierre Boulez

Thursday, May 17, 2018

I'm working on a blog

The draft of my review of Pip Adam's I'm Working on a Building, published in Metro for January 2014.
To begin at the end, the author has added an afterword to this novel in which tells the reader that her book began as the creative component of a PhD, one that asked how the language of structural engineering might “inform, alter and enlarge fiction.” The reader might ponder whether the author has succeeded in her task, and might also ask why the novel was written backwards.

The chapters of this book have been arranged in reverse order, without warning for no apparent reason. The reader who starts at the first page and reads towards will be confused: events and characters run away, revealing less of themselves rather than more. In a literary world dominated by pedestrian historical sagas a little experimentation should be welcome; unfortunately, in this case it is simply annoying. Save yourself the trouble, gentle reader, and begin at the end.

Turned the right way about, this is not a complicated story: a teenage girl, Catherine, has teenage problems, goes to university, becomes a structural engineer, works on several projects in New Zealand and overseas. She is difficult, apparently a much better engineer than her colleagues but unable to communicate with them. Despite her superiority, her buildings have problems. One, in Wellington, collapses in an earthquake, injuring her and killing at least two of her colleagues. The book begins in the Pompidou Centre where Catherine is thirteen and has teenage problems; it ends in an exact copy of the world’s tallest and dullest building on the west coast of the South Island, where Catherine has adult problems.

The problem with this book is in the characters and the buildings: none of are very interesting. Catherine is challenging, in that she is not likeable, but she is not compelling. Everyone else is rather flat. They are not helped by the writing:

Paul walked back to his chair. William stopped to talk to Craig some more. Craig didn’t worry Paul at all. He checked the time on his cellphone. It was almost lunchtime.

After a while this gets a bit trying. The buildings do not help. They present problems, but not very interesting ones: there is a whole lot of seismic retrofitting going on in this book. The problem with the book is that none of the architects and engineers that populate it have any feeling for buildings. They have terminology, because their creator has learned it and is determined to use it. But they have no architectural sensibility. Their buildings are assemblages of parts, of terms.

This is a novel of our times; like the historical novels it is the result of research, learned but not lived. It is constructed rather than formed. And it is very disappointing.

Jazz 625; Wes Montgomery, introduced by Humph:

Saturday, December 09, 2017


If there were such a thing as an EY Business Journalism award for best use of parentheses, Chris Keall of the NBR would deserve to win for this:

Here is Terje Rypdal in 1975.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Cubists and other Pharisees of modern architecture

The Cubists and other Pharisees of modern architecture refuse to admit the existence of such trifles as national traditions, long-established habits and the congenital peculiarities of human nature. For them, man is made for modern technique, not modern technique for man. Thus, in the name of modern technique, Le Corbusier would compel us all to inhabit a mixture of green-house and hospital ward, furnished in the style of a dentist's operating chamber.


Huxley, Aldous. 
"Puritanism in Art." 
The Studio 99, no. 444 
(March 1930): 200-03.

Le Corbusier 
Villa Baizeau,
Carthage, 1928

Igor Stravinsky: Variations - Aldous Huxley in memoriam
London Sinfonietta
Oliver Knussen

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Tauranga, the Riviera of the North

The architecture of Tauranga is a curious mingling of new and old.

The influence of the Spanish Mission is strong, and plaster fronts and sun-tinted pillars jostle half-timbered Tudors and pseudo-English cottages, and all lie cheek by jowl with small starting houses of no particular design, whose windows probably watched the redcoat soldiers march through Tauranga.

Among the sand-dunes and the pines and sea-grass, the holiday houses of the Mount are scattered, without symmetry or design. Their green and red and orange roofs and swinging shutters give the place a strangely picturesque and foreign appearance. Bright canoes are drawn upon the white sand, and Pilot Bay holds a fleet of pleasure craft as neatly at anchor as walnut shells in a tea-cup.

West, Joyce. "Tauranga, the Riviera of the North." 
The New Zealand Railways Magazine
1 September 1937, 22

Monday, November 07, 2016

When we grow desperately weary

We have got so used to the cliche that the age we live in is one of disillusionment, cynicism, agnosticism and the likea characteristically jazz age, in factthat we are liable either to accept it without troubling to think of its implications, or to deny it outright from sheer cussedness. When we grow desperately weary, as all of us do from time to time, of jazz and modernism, sex and anthropology, the poems of Mr Eliot and the savagery of Mr Wyndham Lewis, we tend to comfort ourselves with the thought that the bulk of our people are untouched by all this clamour, bustle and absurdity, that it is only a small part of the nation, a few hundreds perhaps in London, shouting across the Atlantic to a few hundreds in New York, who are vocal and ridiculous in their disenchantment.

Carruthers, John. 
Scheherazade; or the Future of the English Novel. 
London: Kegan, Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., Ltd, 1927.
John Carruthers was a pseudonym of John Young Thomson Greig

Portrait of  T. S. Eliot by Wyndham Lewis, 1938, Durban Municipal Art Gallery

Saturday, November 05, 2016

Ugly houses



(N.Z. Times.)

The Times reporter, boiling with indignation, approached a man with a foot-rule and a large pan in his hand. The man was an architect—cum— bricklayer—carpenter—builder.

"I see," said the inquirer, that the Governor has been saying that architecture in New Zealand is contemptible, that the dwelling-houses of this fair land are eyesores, so to speak, and that for sheer ugliness there, is nothing to compare to a Dominion cottage as it were."

The architect measured off a piece of land three feet six by seven and a half. He intended to erect on that piece of land a two-storey six room house. Being a philanthropist he would only charge 31s 6d a week rental.

When asked if it was true that the house he intended to erect out of fourth-class timber (and as little as possible of it) would be the worst kind of a blotch on the scenery he was intensely angry and said several columns of things about the fearful price of timber and labour, the decline in the birth-rate, and threw in a few reflections about Baltic and Oregon pine.

In the course of a voluminous statement, he said that it was absolutely unnecessary to erect houses that were beautiful because no one in New Zealand demanded beautiful houses, and if they did so this was no reason why a builder should build beautiful houses. When the reporter told him that there were people in this vast world who would refuse to house their dogs and horses in the weatherboard boxes with which this city abounds, he said that the poor landlord had to live somehow and if he couldn't live honestly—at this point he exploded violently and the reporter had to leave.

Another reasonable soul who was about to stick fifty pounds worth of timber on the side of a scraggy hill —the whole when erected to be purchasable for eight times its value— snorted defiantly.

“It isn't only the houses in New Zealand that are shoddy. We depend almost entirely on the outside world for the manufactured goods we use. We pay first prices for third-class goods. Did you ever see a real good cup and saucer, a shapely frying-pan, a tip-top saucepan (etc., etc., etc.). The Home manufacturer, and his German relative and his generally Continental cousin see us coming. The point is that it is too far away to the other side of the world to send rubbish back, and so in disgust the colonial shopkeeper sticks to it and adds 10 per cent, to the selling price to heal his anger."

"I know that the houses in New Zealand are the jerriest built houses in the world," said a man with shavings in his hair, "and that New Zealand carpenters do the worst work in the world (not because they are not skilled workmen but because the bosses hustle them along to finish a job.) But we only follow precedent. New Zealanders don't understand having anything decent and why should we give 'em good goods? The New Zealander has for years and years subsisted on 'seconds' in the way of tucker. His best butter goes Home. He takes the scrag mutton because the London market won't have anything but prime, for which it pays only two-thirds of the price we pay for the scrag. If we ever raise anything decent —and we can raise the most decent things in the world—we pack in a box and ship it Home, where the people sniff at it and buy it because they can't afford to pay the price for Home-made stuff. As for the houses nobody in the country has ever yet demanded real comfort and that's why they don't get it.

“The New Zealander is absolutely unappreciative of beauty. He doesn't know that his bush is the most beautiful thing in the arboreal line this side of Kingdom Come, until some foreigner comes along and tells him so. He shaves the bush down, by the million acres, and when he wants a breakwind he plants some forlorn-looking foreign specimens that are as near being an eyesore as anything can be that the Creator turns but. Any old box of a house will do for the Colonial. He doesn't roar if the wind comes through the weatherboards and blows his candle out. If he roars the landlord tells him to quit, and gets another tenant in at an increased rent. Other countries have a habit of thinking of to-morrow and the day after. The New Zealander thinks only of to-day. He doesn't care how soon a house falls down if he has left it and he never has cared twopence about the appearance of anything except himself. He will wear a six guinea suit and gleefully drink out of a cracked penny cup for which he has paid sixpence. His wife will pile a heap of expensive gauds on herself looking out all the time on a backyard twelve feet square and which the jerry builder has left in its native state. She doesn't care. He doesn't care. Why should the jerry builder care?"

The reporter was speechless and forgets now whether he agrees with the infuriated persons he interviewed or the calmly condemning governor.

"Ugly Houses," Marlborough Express, 
Volume XLII, Issue 224, 
21 September 1908, 
Page 6