Serendipity is key to some of our best experiences in New Zealand. We piggybacked our Wellington trip, for instance, with a visit to Masterton, where Kenton was invited to speak at the New Zealand Institute of International Affairs.
Our host was Ian Grant, a publisher and former newspaper editor, who is writing a book about the history of New Zealand newspapers. Before the talk, he and his wife hosted a potluck at their house, where we had a chance to get down-to-earth with Kiwis vigorously engaged in NZ’s civic and culture life.
On the way to Masterton … we stopped at TheNewDowse in Lower Hutt, one of Wellington’s suburbs. What a showcase of contemporary art! I was especially taken with the work of Andrea de Chatenier, a native of Hamilton where we live, who exhibits worldwide.
For Goldenage, she hard carved styrofoam into sculptures that play with notions of desire and excess, and ironies of nature fetishism. Staged as a stylized Greek tableau (which strangely call to mind Bladerunner’s replicants), the whimsical works evoke the nature/culture paradigm in ways that are mythically- and socially-charged.
A curious case of happenstance …
Ian encouraged us to visit the Aratoi-Wairarapa Museum of Arts and History, which was installing new exhibits. So there wasn’t much to see—except Hard on the Heels by New Zealand photojournalist Peter Bush. The exhibit featured over 100 selected photographs of New Zealand’s All Black rugby games taken during the last 60 years.
Yawn, I say. While Kenton viewed the photographs, I browsed a magazine—until I heard a triumphant howl: “Gerri, you’ve got to come see this.” He was grinning into a photograph taken during the NZ vs Wales rugby match at Cardiff Arms Park in 1978. It was a legendary victory for the All Blacks, winning 13-12 in the last minute.
“I watched that game,” Kenton laughs. “I was in the stadium at Cardiff!” (Kenton studied journalism at the University of Wales that year.)
What are the odds, we wonder, what are the odds?