Little disturbances

Poetry, collaboration, yes

In art 2016, writing 2016 on May 18, 2016 at 3:30 am

Maukatere coverA few years, 44-email threads, and many generous layers and seeds of collaboration later a book called Maukatere: Floating Mountain by Bernadette Hall will be launched in May and June 2016, published by Seraph Press.

Bernadette first emailed me in 2013. She was working on a new piece of writing. I read the draft and was blown over by it. Did I want to do illustrations? Yes! was my immediate reply and we began exchanging emails about our writing, art adventures, walks and little people (her grandchildren/my nephew). We would go off on our own tangents and reconvene with much to share, both online and in person when either of us was visiting each other’s home town.

An illustrated character called ‘the hooded lantern’ was directly inspired by Maukatere: Floating Mountain. The character has cropped up in a few of my graphic essays since, including Enjoy gallery’s most recent occasional journal. Sometimes the hooded lantern is an awkward hipster who seems a bit embarrassed to have a lamp for a face and retreats, a little unhelpfully into a hoodie to be emotional, that is until a joke, word play or a bit of bad news that’s so bad it’s possibly funny makes the lamp beam out into the world again. In Maukatere: Floating Mountain, the hooded lantern, who appears in most of the drawings I’ve done for the book, is closer to one of Bernadette’s poem figures, the Tangler.

The Tangler is an individual who breaks through, as Bernadette put it to me, the safety nets of family and community. The Tangler is a provocateur who knows all about nets and lifelines, catchment areas and floodgates, land and people, stories and silences. Maukatere: Floating Mountain is an extraordinary poem about memory, what it’s like when other people invite you to know them and what it’s like to be known in return, the things that haunt us over time, the demystifying process of looking at what’s right in front of us. I don’t think it’s coincidence that the drawings are shaped by a mesh pattern, even though this really did seem to accidentally occur to me:


Maukatere 8 sm

Maukatere: Floating Mountain is a single long poem sequence that explores and celebrates life below Maukatere (Mt Grey) in the Hurunui. The book has been beautifully published by Helen Rickerby at Seraph Press. The Press just published Poroporoaki to the Lord My God: Weaving the Via Dolorosa: Ekphrasis in Response to Walk (Series C) by Colin McCahon by Anahera Gildea and will soon publish Paula Green’s New York Pocket Book. It’s been a real pleasure to work with Helen and see all the amazing work she is doing to connect readers with local poetry.

Poetry has an ambiguous presence in today’s world. Working on this project has reminded me that great poetry doesn’t tell you what to think. It gets you thinking for yourself. You see other people around you lifting up a lid on a part of themselves they forgot about or are out of touch with. You hear yourself say that you need something, that what you need might be the same or different from before. The process of remembering, returning to what we think we know is constant and necessary to staying afloat in life. Poetry is sometimes a parent to a kid in the country who can’t drive yet and who needs to be taxied to places and people that will fundamentally help them resolve into some kind of independent person, a person who will either have to learn to drive themself, champion public transport and environmental justice, cycle, run, and/or persuade people to carry them just up to the next corner, please…

Maybe. Not.

All I really know is that poetry is a provocateur of anything and everything, from the glorious to the bamboozling. Maybe that’s the coolest thing about poetry, BYO ethics!

If you can, please join us for launches at Hurunui Public Library (Amberly), Scorpio Books (Christchurch) and Ekor Bookshop Cafe (Wellington):

Launch One: 3.00 pm, 21 May 2016, Hurunui Public Library, 11 Carters Road Amberley Launch Two: 2.30 pm, 22 May 2016, Scorpio Books, 113 Riccarton Road Christchurch Launch Three: 6.00 pm, 2 June 2016, Ekor Bookshop Cafe, 17B College Street Wellington

Gathered together in a disorganised or unruly way: drawing exercise

In art 2015 on July 23, 2015 at 7:14 am

I’m gearing up to complete a short graphic essay and thought I would try to draw people from photographs of crowds (people gathered together in a disorganised or unruly way!) for a bit of practice and to expand my vocabulary of body language.

Here are a few examples. These are depictions of people photographed in a public square in Budapest in 1900 by a photographer called Klosz Gyorgy. Aparently he liked to take photographs while standing on top of his dark room AKA his truck. I’m not sure if this was the case here, but I like to think that he shouted out to those gathered in the public square, slightly interrupting their business, though able to capture them before they could self-consciously pose. It’s a little strange that everyone is looking up and in the same direction and yet still mid-stride:





A drama/essay: I guess it means we are in another’s brain…

In Uncategorized on May 12, 2015 at 8:38 am









This is a graphic essay, my first attempt at illustrating a series of thoughts and questions…

It seems ironic to think about diversity while bracketed by one’s own mind, body and imagination… Yet, there is always another side to the implausible…

You could say, I’m suggesting that we are all sort of spaced out into the world.

My ability to think and act is conditioned on diversity and plurality. I am born into a world of people. This diversity enables me to act and think.

Yet, to act involves me putting diversity at risk. Sometimes I, or a group I am part of, narrow plurality in order to act coherently, to attempt some kind of transformation or change.

When we fight for social justice and equality, we narrow diversity to focus in a particular moment on a particular cause within a diversity of causes. We highlight a problem within diversity, we fight against a specific privilege or position, a specific set of values or bureaucratic practices. This is also the point where we can sometimes forget we are also always caring for and fighting for plurality.

I appreciate diversity not simply so that I can protect my ability to act, think, appear and cohere. Rather I appreciate and am mindful that my ability to think and act is often made possible at the very moment diversity is at risk.

It is important and interesting to think about how we might accept responsibility for that risk, individually and collectively, as we work to affect change.

These thoughts are based on a connection I see between various insights by Édouard Glissant and Hannah Arendt. Two quotes that have inspired me are:

“Thinking thought usually amounts to withdrawing into a dimensionless place in which the idea of thought alone persists. But thought in reality spaces itself out into the world. It informs the imaginary of peoples, their varied poetics, which it then transforms, meaning, in them its risk becomes realized.” – Édouard Glissant

Not man but men inhabit this planet. Plurality is the law of the earth.
Arendt, Hannah. The Life of the Mind (2 vols. Volume I: Thinking, Volume II: Willing). Brace Harcourt. January 1, 1978. Hardcover, 535 pages, Language English, ASIN: B001RG9SBI.

I started this essay while on the International Residency Programme at RM Gallery in Auckland in early 2014. I really appreciate the opportunity the residency gave me to create new work, to think and meet some great people. The character of the Hooded Lantern was directly inspired by the poetry of Bernadette Hall.