Coming Up For Air

The sky was blue enough to burst when Jas and me biked out to the chicken farm that summer. There was no wind as we biked along the back straight and we could hear the roar of breakers in the bay.

All this used to be under ocean once, said Jas.

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The Swimmer

THE yellow soup we called the piddling pool at the McRae Baths was where my brothers and I learned to swim. When we got the hang of it, we joined Comet Swimming Club and graduated to hours of lane-grazing in the big pool.

With its corrugated iron, barbed wire perimeter and its barrack changing rooms, there was something of the prisoner of war camp aesthetic to the McRae . Even so, it is number 10 on my hit parade of 10 memorable swimming pools.

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Comet Swimming Club member Diane Newton dives in front of the McRae Baths barracks changing sheds. Gisborne Photo News, 1968.

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My Five Year Old Can Do Better Than That

ONLY a handful of people knew my conceptual art-work, My Five Year Old Can Do Better Than That, featured in two 2012 art awards shows.

One of them was the 21st annual Wallace awards at the Wallace Arts Centre.

My text-based piece was installed in a modest salon some distance from the main galleries. It was modestly visited and a digital video took top prize.

The other big show was the Walters prize at the Auckland Art Gallery.

AAG - news.open2view.com
Auckland Art Gallery. Picture news.open2view.com

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Sad story

The Sleeping Dog. Remrandt. 1633

It rained a bit and a sub-tropical wind rustled in the stalks as I buried Toto in the sweetcorn paddock but he was already cold because the old man put him down at lunchtime except the injection wasn’t strong enough and the dog crawled under the house to die and the old man phoned me to ask if could come out and crawl after him, Toto, I mean, except it turned out he wasn’t under the house but was laying on the damp earth in the shadow of the villa and hardly breathing so I carried him into the sun and the old man came around the side of the house with a sack and a freshly loaded syringe but then he couldn’t find a vein in Toto’s leg so I rolled him over and he aimed the needle at his liver but he was too fat so we had to find a bigger needle to reach his heart which was a bit ugly except the he was too half dead to feel pain although he hyperventilated for a bit as I watched him fade away because I wasn’t going to put him the sack until he was gone then I said see y’later bae and slid the sack around him and carried him into the sweetcorn paddock and dug a deep hole so the dogs wouldn’t dig him up then went and washed my hands in the bathroom and rinsed out my mouth except my hands still smelled like shit and the beer we had afterwards didn’t taste too good either.

Soft Rock

Rock Formations

Among the soft aircraft carriers and canyon rock formations at Wainui Beach are bubbled masses of rock.

Rock Formations

Shapes in the rock suggested something sentient slowly coming into being. I tried sketching one amorphous mass to see if the abstract, fluid shapes would create their own sort of language – but the pattern was too irregular. My line was too cautious and the cartoonish, biomorphic shapes I wanted would not cooperate.

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Dakota Joe and the Jungle Demon

The jungle demon was slumped so long among the exposed roots of a tree, tendrils had snaked around its ankles. Vines that once bound the demon’s body hung from its neck, wrists and legs.

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Crude stitching that had knitted together its mouth had also long rotted. The demon could not close its eyes because its eyelids had been cut away.

One eye sat higher than the other anyway due to a tumble into the rocks of a dried river bed where the demon Arri had remained face down for several months. When the mud dried and turned to dust, the doll surprised itself awake with a muppety sneeze. Read more

Incident with cows

“Auckland Volunteer Coastguard rescued a man shipwrecked on Brown’s Island after getting confused between east and west. He dialled 111 from the island and said he was being attacked by cows, then turned his phone off when he thought cows would find him up the tree he had climbed.”
The Dominion.

cow wallpaper

Mr Lee is packing his bags for his return (by plane) to China when I phone to inquire after his close encounter with cows.

“It was a very awful experience, in fact,” says Mr Lee. His accent has a faint American inflection.

“I can be very honest: I was very silly.”

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