Time moves quickly as 2011 plunges headfirst in a storm of happenings. Already we are far behind in bloggage. But the land of Quaint’s stories must be told.
Filled with art from our homely sojourn we once more enter the sky to visit our continental neighbours New Zealand, the land of our good old friend Tom Howard and his wife to be Davinia. The deep ripples which make up NZ are astounding from the sky, with epic peaks and a primordial wildness which makes it one of the best destinations for nature lovers. The travel excitement starts again as we descend into the quaint laid back culture of New Zealand. Christchurch is a beautiful city, small and pretty with churches, parks and great food. In order to properly celebrate our 11th anniversary we check into a small box filled with a myriad of mood lighting and a strange curved glass bathroom all in the space of a cupboard and head out to dinner at a hip restaurant called ‘The Bicycle Thief.’ Great wine and boutique beers, amazing polenta chips, both crunchy and creamy and pizza to die for. In the morning we awake slowly to a carefully programmed alarm system which simulates the sun coming up and head into the city for galleries and strolls in the sun.
Before our arrival we had organised to meet Tom after work and he had designated ‘the chalice’ as our meeting point. When we asked what this chalice actually was Tom told us that we would know and indeed we did. A giant chalice of metal symbols in the middle of cathedral square in central Christchurch, it is difficult to miss. It was great to see Tom again and to have the time to properly get to know Davinia. They live within walking distance to the centre of Christchurch and have a cute house with a great garden, complete with giant fluffy bumblebees. We were cooked many a great meal, getting to see how great New Zealand produce really is. Learning the local lingo and giggling at their word for spatula. They call it a fish slice! Days were spent visiting every gallery we could find and exploring Christchurch. The arts precinct is a beautiful area enclosed in an old world university campus with picturesque stone buildings and courtyards. The damage from the earthquake was mostly sectioned off or cleaned up, but there still remained a number of gaps in the otherwise built up urban facade of Christchurch. An arts group had taken this idea and set up a space called ‘Gap Filler,’ using holes carved into the city by the earthquake as a performance and chill space. The lack of building had become a garden with plants, fake grass, chairs, coffee and quirky music. A young girl with many twiddly knob boxes and a microphone introduces herself as Space Cake and sings harmonies with herself in the voice of a grown man.
The weekend came and we took a drive up into the hills surrounding Christchurch for great views and a visit to a farmers market in a little town called Littleton. Wandering in the sunshine we ambled amongst antiques and bric a brac before sampling dried cow flesh and local coffee.
A gathering was planned for the pre bucks and hens celebration and we stocked up on beer and met Tom and Davinia’s new friends and work-mates. Going our separate ways the true sampling of New Zealand produce began. A crawl of boutique and exciting beers was accompanied with foosball, fairy wings and hilarity. As the sun rose it raised a toast to our persistence and the hang-over to come.
Even before our arrival we had been told that the Ron Mueck travelling exhibition would be in Christchurch along with us in December and so we all decided to go together.
It was inspiring and intriguing, hyper-realism at its best. Strangely sized humans in very vulnerable states and poses with a depth of expression that leaves you wondering. They had films of his process which were amazing, so many layers and perfection of detail. To complete our cultural experience we went to the museum, to look at Maori art, culture and multitudes of stuffed birds. Did you know that New Zealand has no native animals, except for birds?
An excited drive down to Timaru, the hometown of Davinia, ensues. In this cute little seaside town we are soon introduced to Davinias family and fall into the hype which always surrounds the lead up to a wedding. Suits are fitted, cars are prepared, ribbon, booze, photos and delicious food. Laughter and family games of table tennis. The posse from down under arrive and the festivities soon begin. After a long morning of beautiful photographs spent with a stunning bride and groom we separate and head to the wedding crammed into an antique mini which affords a great sight for the milling guests. The venue is an unbelievable estate with sweeping lawns, a beautiful stream running through deep enchanted gardens and towering trees lining the drive. A grand old manor sits with a large marquee and a little cottage for a bed and breakfast. The ceremony goes without a hitch with our hand-binding ceremony to finish things off. Much dancing ensues with a liberal application of wine and an embarrassed Tahn giving a speech. It is an awesome wedding and we are driven home riding the wave of wedding bliss.