Monday, June 25, 2018

Kiwi hospitality

After an unusual night of complete insomnia, I got a ride with Tony to the airport in the dark and wee hours of the morning to fly to New Zealand. The South Island has less than a quarter of the population of the whole country and Christchurch really suffered after its two big earthquakes in 2010 and 2011. But I'm not here for any touristy things, only for research. Here is one of Mark Lander's pieces hanging in his workshop.
Two of his beaters that work outside. Both are full right now, one with rag and one with rag + New Zealand flax—known as harakeke by the Maori. It's not related at all to the flax that is in the Northern Hemisphere. Misnomers run rampant and it would be nice to restore the names given by the original keepers of the land. Anyhow, this is Mark's main material and he makes beautiful paper with it.
Here are two of his floral wreaths made of paper, and you can see the harakeke big sheets hanging like gauze. He originated lots of methods of making huge paper, with his biggest sheets measuring 10 meters square (almost 33 square feet).
He creates pigments that he paints with from the earth, getting a wide range of colors, all from the area. Using local materials is important to him, and he also always asks for a blessing before harvesting his plants.
He taught himself piano and has this gorgeous grand in the workshop. Janet, his wife, is behind—can you believe they allowed me to come and stay right as they finished up moving?! After having moved to a new house only months ago, I have a hard time believing I could have hosted a stranger from another country right in the throes of it. They are so kind and generous, and Jan has been cooking up wonderful meals for us throughout.
The day after I arrived, they were kind enough to drive me around Christchurch to see bits of the city, including the earthquake ruins. This church has shipping containers stacked up on the other side just to keep the whole thing from falling down.
This is the famous cardboard church made to temporarily replace another that was damaged, though it is now permanent—also created by a Japanese architect who had done similar structures in Japan after natural disasters.

Part of Mark's hospitality is that he sews up these wolf onesies, complete with hoods and tails, so that guests can climb into them and stay warm. He's been sewing since he was a kid. Amazing!
After seeing buildings, we drove through Sumner, a lovely seaside town, and up an old volcano rim to see stunning views. I was so busy gawking that I didn't take pictures of the eastern shoreline but we did jump out of the car to look at the harbor.
Jan is down there amidst the tussocks (after we came back down, on the way home she rooted around on the ground behind her old garden to find the last of the feijoas so that I could have a taste. A gorgeous green fruit). What a beautiful drive, which they would do on bike and foot. The weather has been stunning for my entire visit down under. Only tomorrow will be cloudy and potentially rainy, but I'm grateful for all the sun throughout their winter solstice and beyond.

1 comment:

Velma Bolyard said...

oh my god, a piano and a wolf suit and two lander beaters...and such a landscape.