Friday, September 26, 2014

The Three Wise Men at the McAtamney Gallery Geraldine

This exhibition at the McAtamney Gallery in Geraldine runs from the 12th of October until the 17th. of November. It includes works from an earlier show at Enjoy Gallery in Wellington and these new works. The three wise men as they were affectionally called were Andrew Davidson, Dr. Gervan McMillan and Arnold Nordmeyer. This video is from the opening and gives some background to the story.
Here are some of the paintings from the show.
To Create a New Society.  120 x 40 cms
"We were fired with a fervent desire to create a new society," wrote Andrew Davidson in his memoir. Their new society was to replace the poverty and unemployment they witnessed in Kurow during the depression of the 1930s.
The Doctors House. 107 x 16 cms
The doctors house still exists in Kurow. It was here the three would meet, discuss and write their vision for their New Society.
Leaving for the conference  52 x 20 cms
Dr. Gervan MacMillian took their ideas for a free medical service to the Labour Party conference in 1934. The paper he presented became party policy.
The trains would make way  36x 25 cms
MacMillian expected the trains in the Waitaki hydro shunting yards to give way to him. He was known for his furious driving around his large practice.
An Act to provide  122 x 37 cms
The health service that the three wrote about around the doctors kitchen table eventually developed into the 1938 Social Security Act. 
The Path to School  193 x 40 cms
With the sudden arrival of  construction workers for the dam and unemployed hoping to get work  Andrew Davidson's Kurow school spilled out into Nordmeyer's church hall, the social hall at construction site, and the totaliser building at the racecourse. It was a lively time in education, Dr. Beeby the director of Education believed in social and economic equality for every child regardless of academic ability and what he called the child centered school rather than the school centred child. Andrew Davidson's first job was often to provide his ragged new pupils with warm clothing from money the Nordy had raised. 
The teacher  13 x 17.5 cms
The Doctor  13 x 17.5 cms
the Minister  13 x 17.5 cms 
At the Willows and At the Doctors kitchen Table - four watercolors.
The McAtamney Gallery is upstairs in the Old Post Office Building 47/49 Talbot St. Geraldine. It is open Thursday to Monday 11am until 3:00pm or by appointment and Tuesday and Wednesday by appointment.
PH: +64 3 69 37 292

Sunday, May 18, 2014

A new book

Best Mates 
By Philippa Werry and Bob Kerr 
Published by New Holland Publishers
I visited Gallipoli some years ago. I couldn’t afford to take the commercial tours so I would catch the local bus to Kabatepe and then walk for an hour down the beach to Anzac Cove. I would walk back at the end of the day expecting to meet the bus but I never did catch the bus because I would be invited to dinner by one of the Turkish families that would be picnicking under the pine trees along the coast. 

They would ask me where I was from and I would say New Zealand and that I had been looking at the place where the New Zealanders landed in 1915. I would ask my hosts why they were so kindly disposed to New Zealanders since we had tried to invade their country. They invariably suggested that we had picked a rather bad place to land because the young commander on the top of the hill was Kemal Ataturk and that we helped create his reputation and therefore helped create modern Turkey and my hosts would add but that was a long time ago and would I like another slice of baklava.

It is the same generosity that Ataturk voiced when he said the much quoted words that are on the Ataturk memorial on the south coast at Karehana Bay here in Wellington.
“Your sons are now our sons, having lost their lives in this land.” It seems amazingly generous since twice as many Turkish soldiers died defending their home than the invaders did.

When the text for this book arrived in my inbox one Friday I sent a reply straight back to the publishers New Holland saying I was too busy and would not be able to do it. Over the weekend I showed it to my daughter Kathleen. She read it, took her glasses of, wiped her eye and told me to do it. I’m glad she did. It has been great working with the team at New Holland Publishers and it’s been great working with Philippa. You can visit Philippa's website and see all the other excellent books she has written at

Here are some pages from the book.

Number One Field Punishment at the Tauranga Art Gallery

The characters in Best Mates dashed off to the first World War without giving much thought to what they would encounter. Mark Briggs and Archibald Baxter gave it a lot of thought and refused to go. They were sent to prison and then, along with fourteen other conscientious objectors were taken to the frontline in France where Baxter, Briggs and Lawrence Kirwan were administered Number One Field Punishment in an attempt by the New Zealand Government to persuade them to put on the kings uniform.
This exhibition at the Tauranga Art Gallery includes some paintings from earlier shows on this topic and a major new work A long Row of Stout High Poles. Musician Andrew Laking has composed a sound scape that plays in the gallery with the paintings. To find out more about Andy and his music visit his website a t

Here are some images from the show. Viewers are invited to walk along the wooden duckwalk to view the large painting. The text running along the top of the seven panels is a quote from Baxter's book We Will Not Cease. It reads: "Walking along the duckwalk from the gate I observed a long row of stout high poles. These poles were for the infliction of number one field punishment."

Lippy Pictures film Number One Field Punishment recently aired on TV One. You can watch this brilliant dramatization here.