My Favourite Window

October 18, 2012

RIP Florence Akins

I would have loved to meet Flo Akins: New Zealand's - possibly the World's - oldest Morris Dancer: until today that is.  She celebrated her 105th birthday in March this year, with Nelson Morris in attendance. Their Squire, Steve Rule, rang me to let me know that she died this morning.

A quick dip into the annals of the NZ publication English Folklore Dance and Song*, reveals her interest in the crafting of instruments as well as her musical and dancing ability during the years that she was an active member of the New Zealand Society for English Folk Dancing.

Another dip - this time into Google (the link above is to the Christchurch Art Gallery blog) - placed Flo soundly in the Christchurch and Nelson artistic scene alongside fellow dancers and musicians such as Francis Shurrock, Leo Bensemann, William Allen and Caroline Oliver.

This artistic trail lead me back to my own book shelf, and The Arts and Crafts Movement in New Zealand where Florence's accomplishments as student, teacher and artist/craftwoman are detailed.  Her writing conveys a sense of interest in people as much as her observation of her surroundings, though I haven't come across her own words in the EFDS magazines. But there are regular references to her talent.

From Rangiora Morris man, Courtney Archer, comes an account of her playing the pipe and tabor. For me that sums up her approach to life, because for those of you who are unfamiliar with pipe and tabor - it's like rubbing your head and patting your tummy at the same time. Flo strikes me as a woman who was always up to a challenge.

*English Folklore Dance and Song was edited between 1938 and 1944 by John Oliver. It not  only provides an account of New Zealand's English Folk Dance scene but a poignant record of the effect that War in Europe was having on NZ. 

October 14, 2012

Holiday Round Up

What with getting my Drama Queens 

to the stage door on time  

Kitty as Cinderella's Stepmother

and cleaning up after the mice:

stepping warily through a zombie movie

in the making ...

 oh, and fitting in a holiday outing to Gore Bay,

 Banded Dotterel nesting, Gore Bay, NZ

Seaside planting, Gore Bay

it's a surprise to realise that my garden has been getting on quite well without me.

Grand designs may be a thing of the past but little efforts I had forgotten I'd made, 
flourish in delightful ways, and greet me on waking.

October 3, 2012

Sixty: Reasons to Visit Wellington

Of course I didn't go to Wellington just to look at the tulips.

Two weeks ago now, Andy turned Sixty. 

Even on his birthday he can't help being Handy;  
here is my first attempt at a birthday portrait - Andy at the kitchen sink after breakfast.

There were plenty of distractions though, as there always are in a city so doubly blessed with natural beauty and cultural extravagance.

Henry Moore's Bronze Form is a jewel in the Arts crown.

I am always enchanted by the enclave of Arts and Crafts gardeners' buildings in the Botanic Gardens;

and the little gazebo set beside water at the edge of indigenous woodland.

In the children's playground an old tree stump has been given new life

Catching up with friends in the city I finally placed an enigmatic fa├žade; 

I used to admire this Art Deco detailing from Elwin's desk on the sixth floor of DeLoitte House. I could never work out where it stood in the street scape until this recent visit. It stands on the corner of Brandon and Featherston Streets.
Another handsome building in Brandon Street is this one, with its decorative metal panels.

Metal of a different ilk featured in Stainless (by Judy Darragh), an installation at the Dowse Art Museum. The stainless steel kitchenware is just visible in Andy's reflective photo. Something about the concentric discs and Andy's stance with his pocket camera, as well as the rectangular, reflected frame brings to mind a photographer using a twin lens reflex camera. 

There's some kind of resonance there with the era of popularity for that type of camera alongside a sixtieth birthday.
And what of that elusive birthday portrait? 
Really this is it in my eyes.
Happy Birthday Handy Andy.