Had a couple of nights in Dunedin. One highlight was the opportunity to visit a new exhibition at Dunedin Public Art Gallery, an important one but I’ll explain why in another post. When it opened to the public on Saturday we attended the introductory talk and then returned again today (Sunday).
This painting (below) is eye-catching. Physically it’s very large and dominates the wall space, and the style is stark and simple. It’s instantly recognisable to any kiwi as being an artwork that’s “our place”. It also captured my attention because it’s so clean and uncluttered which doesn’t look quite right – especially when you see that it’s dated 1978. Back then I was in high school in the Far North (i.e. at the other end of the country). In our region I remember streets littered with litter and cigarette butts, especially around pubs. Portobello is on the beautiful Otago Peninsula, perhaps it was much nicer than the pub surrounds I remember! Or perhaps this is ‘cleaned-up’ – I don’t know. But it’s interesting.
So the bloke standing there in singlet and gumboots .. who’s he? Well, our English teacher had us read a few of his poems and one of them started off “Acne blossoms scarlet on their cheeks,” and I never forgave him for putting that line in my head. ~it never left and I hated it! So we didn’t get off to a particularly good start. The same (lovely) English teacher managed to arrange for our class to go and see him read poetry at a reading in the biggest town in our region. It was in the evening so I guess we stayed overnight in the town, and probably none of us had ever been to a poetry reading before! My memory is of a tall, hard-case, lanky guy with big hair, unusual voice, an unexpected style of delivery (for me anyway) and it was exactly opposite to what I’d imagined a poetry reading would be like!
Listening to some of his poems tonight, I find I rather like them so I’ve a completely different perspective now. He’s very well known in New Zealand. Now in his seventies. I’ve read that way back he used to visit school classes and take his dog Minstrel with him – now that sounds fun!
The painting is by Dame Robin White.
Click on the photo to enlarge.
Short article in the ODT about this painting, and Dame Robin White.
Public places. Oct 2015.
About Sam Hunt, including 8 audio files of him reading his poems.
~from The Poetry Archive. I particularly enjoyed this descriptive ‘About’ / bio.
~”In recital his voice is memorable. It evokes at one and the same time a wheezing harmonica and a raucous seagull. With bouffant hairdo like an exploded wool bale, bony bangle-clad wrists and fingers restlessly in motion, this is the poet as rock ‘n’ roller, affirming the power of performance.” 😀
Newsroom article from last year during Covid lockdown, Sam Hunt interview.
Sam Hunt: We’ll be wiser, weaker folk
Text and photos by Liz; Exploring Colour (2021)