Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Farmer's Wife and The Farmer

At the end of September we took a few days off and headed to New Plymouth. Mainly because we could. It was also the school holidays.

We entertained ourselves with visits to the museum, the statue, and the Len Lye exhibition.

New Plymouth is blessed with a fine museum and Art Gallery, Puke Ariki. While we there, they were staging an exhibition from the Tauranga Art Gallery, called "The Farmer's Wife and The Farmer", a series of paintings by John McLean.

I had never heard of McLean, and so didn't know what to expect, but I was very taken with the paintings in this exhibition.

According to McLean, The Farmer's Wife is a series of paintings which attempted to answer the question "'What happened to The Farmer’s Wife after she departed with The Traveller?’ as portrayed in an earlier painting ,The Departure of The Farmer’s Wife, (Norsewear Art Award 2007.) The ongoing inquiry was then extended into this series when I asked, ‘What happened to the Abandoned Farmer when his wife left?’"

Additionally, the paintings in both series reference common myths and stories (such as The Odyssey), motifs, and symbolism found throughout Western culture. McLean has an interest in "Jungian notions regarding the domain of the unconscious at an individual and collective level. Associated with this was an interest in allegory and traditional tales, myth and fairy story". His paintings therefore operate at different levels, and part of the 'fun' in viewing them is to pick up the symbols and relate each to tales such as the Odyssey.

McLean has the individual images of both The Farmer's Wife and The (Abandoned) Farmer on his website, along with commentary, and both can be viewed as slideshows. Check them out.

Vanessa gonerilla

According to Wikipedia (so it must be correct, right?!) "Vanessa gonerilla" is the scientific name of the New Zealand Red Admiral butterfly.

Apparently, the "adults can live for many months, including in winter, when they become dormant and fly only on warmer days".

It wasn't winter, in fact it was mid-December, when one fluttered, presumably inadvertently, into our lounge. Before Desiree had released it back into the wilderness we laughingly call our backyard, I managed to capture these quick images:

So this is Christmas ...

Christmas in the Mulligan household has a number of traditions, and can also go on for a while!

It starts, of course, with the acquisition of a Christmas Tree, and then it's installation in a crock in a corner of the lounge.

And then it has to be decorated.
This year, most of that task fell to Jayne, as Charlotte now lives in Wellington.
In the meantime, our native 'Christmas tree', a pohutukawa, had come into full bloom, a glorious spray of deep red.
But when the inside version is finished, and the gifts begin to appear beneath it, you know Christmas is almost upon us.
Christmas Eve was spent visiting Sarah and Craig, for takeway tea, more food, and videos. And then a growing sense of anticipation.
This year, Christmas Day was bright, sunny, calm, and warm - unusual in the Wellington region. Consequently, the kids were able entertain themselves outside playing petanque, and sitting in the swing-seat.
Gareth, visiting Charlotte from the UK, joined us for a couple of days.
There is a limit to how patient one can be while standing in the hot sun waiting for Craig to take a photo of the three sisters.
One of the critical tasks of the day is to set the dinner table. This year the theme was 'purple'.
Desiree & I seemed to spend most of the early part of the afternoon in the kitchen.
We did take time out to exchange presents.

(No prizes for guessing who these were for!)
And then it was time to load the table with food, and indulge. Needless to say we did just that!
And that left the evening for a very slow game of Trivial Pursuit, and bit of music and, of course, dessert. And then sleep.
Which then brought us to Boxing Day. Left-over food. Tidying up. And then the cousins turned up for games, more food and old-fashioned craic! Oh, and a little petanque.
And then, as the evening set in, the lads watched the cricket, while the kids started Whoonu, and then Trivial Pursuit.
And then the day after Boxing Day, all that was left to do was to show Gareth, our UK visitor, why New Zealand used to be called the 'shaky isles'.
That's Gareth standing on the fault scarp or slope, of the Wellington Fault at Harcour Park in Upper Hutt. In other words, standing where the earth's surface moves.

These fungi were growing in bark chips and debris below a large conifer.
Once the serious geography lesson and touristy photo opportunity were out of the way, fun called!

And finally, This is Christmas, John Lennon-style.