Friday, July 13, 2012


Korero (12 July-2 August, 2012)

Korero is a "collaborative exhibition illustrating a fusion between visual art and poetry. 20 artists from various disciplines select from 20 carefully chosen poems on the theme of conversation, to use as inspiration for their artwork. The artists include Ingrid Anderson, Lisa Benson, Kirsty Black, Chris Dennis, Sue Dick, Matt Moriarty, Dom Morrison, Emily Pauling, Clinton Philips, Kirsten Pleitner, Ramon Robertson, Mark Russell, Kate Sellar, Brendon Sellar, Shona Tawhiao, Emma Topping, Wayne Trow, Jana Wood and Nicola Wright."

One of the poems chosen for the exhibition by Siobhan Harvey and Melissa Elliot, the curators, was my piece "Except Once":

Aren’t I always nice to you?
Except once.
[Overheard in the Massey @ Albany Refectory]

tap’s still dripping, diesel generators roar
in shop doors, no money rolls
in, lumps of old essay sag
in plastic bags – I type out texts
from Penguin Books of European Verse.
The water’s too cold
for swimming.

Focus on externals: tick of death
in Irene’s stomach, Miriel’s scorched flesh,
brain-clots and blood-diseases, Julian’s sister
killed on Saturday night – I like to see
the islands in the gulf, driving
down the long hill, ships floating
down the sky.


So, as a result, Bronwyn and I drove over to the Uxbridge Creative Arts Centre in Howick last night for the opening of the show. And I'm very glad we did. We got to catch up with a number of friends we hadn't seen for a while: Sarah Broom, Riemke Ensing and Sonja Yelich among them. And we also got to meet the artist who'd created a work based on my poem, Kirsty Black.

Here we are in front of her painting, also entitled "Except Once":

And here's a more detailed view of the painting itself:

[Kirsty Black: Except Once]

[Except Once (detail)]

I guess I should explain that the poem was written during the great Auckland blackout of 1998, when "diesel generators" were indeed roaring "in shop doors" up and down Queen Street, and the only lights one could see in the darkened city were traffic red, orange, greens. It was a strange and uncanny time, and an appalling number of people I knew seemed to be in pain and turmoil just then. There's a bit of a lift at the end, though, which I feel that Kirsty has picked up on in her transition from the dark blue at the bottom of her painting to the lighter, more life-affirming colours at the top of the frame.

It was very interesting to discuss her intentions with the piece with her. All in all, though her painting didn't win the $1,000 prize, I think it was a thoroughly worthwhile experience. I guess that's why I'm looking so smug in the picture below:


Richard said...

Good poem Jack! Good art also. I remember that time. The artist responds with his or her own "take".
A dark time indeed!

Unlikely to recur as such as there is now an alternative "feed" in place. But with electrical tech anything can happen! Once (in 1987 when I was working at the Elect Div) the cps were seen to drop below 50 at Huntly and the operators there, as a precaution, shut down the power which meant that the load on the rest caused it all to fail north of Huntly. And in 2010 my own power failed and it cost me the best part of $1000 to renew a mains cable... In 1987 my father and father in law did and in 1998 my own mother died.

We associate these things of course but they are not connected 9as far as I know!)

You mention Miriel. That was tragic. When did she die?

Dr Jack Ross said...

Dear Richard,

Miriel Kyle died on the 29th March, 1998.

A couple of months later, Leicester left Auckland for the West Coast and the house he'd bought (sight unseen) in Millerton.