The Napkin Diaries
by Paula Pistol
Don't You Go Out In The Rain
Labour Weekend was spent searching for respite from the rain. I love the way New Zealanders will doggedly plan
long-weekend holidays despite the predictable weather.
As you can guarantee it'll rain during the Cuba Street Carnival, the Hero Parade, Labour Weekend and Boxing Day, you can
bet the sun will shine on major sporting fixtures. And I have to say I have an issue with rainwear. Umbrellas are
traditionally cumbersome, spiky, dribbley items. Most raincoats are just plain ugly and I have yet to find one that
doesn't send little cascades of stored up rain down the back of my neck. If more money were spent on the research and
development of rainwear that is fashionable and easy to use the world would be a better looking and dryer place on those
In the meantime, one excellent place out of the rain is the new gallery space at Te Papa. I dragged the girls in there
on Saturday with the promise of a cocktail afterwards at Icon. It's always been a bit tricky to get Wanda Martini and
Gita Mann in there voluntarily because, as Wanda says, "it's a flat-shoes venue" on account of all the walking that
needs to be done to get anywhere. She
complains about the lack of travelators and is convinced the first escalator inside the door of "Our Place" is just to
lure people to the first floor, after which, it's all stairs.
Sarah Barr, the art maven of my little group, long ago discovered the elevators tucked away around the corner, just next
to the bag and coat-check which she also swears by. "Lighten your load and you can see the art so much better", she
said, as she swept us straight up to the new galleries.
What a joy to see something new at Te Papa. And something old. A few things borrowed, etc. The "Masquerade" exhibition
is great. Basically someone with an eye for stylish camp has done a raid on Te Papa's attic and thrown a fun collection
together that cleverly combines art, natural history, antiques and fashion.
Meanwhile, the Boulevard gallery brings together over a century of New Zealand art. I was going to say "old and
contemporary NZ art" but arguably all NZ art is contemporary by world history standards. We are just a young country,
and it's always fascinating to see how our identity and our self-confidence have developed.
In the portrait corner of this exhibition you've got the magnificent juxtaposition of Ann Rice's Katharine Mansfield
opposite Ann Shelton's saucy, giant photo of a leopard-skinned Ava Seymour, this year's Frances Hodgkins fellow at Otago
University. Three New Zealand women who would tell some great tales over a few gins.
Which is what we did later, downstairs at Icon. Afterwards, we called for cabs to Bodega for some live country-rock, but
ended up walking on account of all the taxis being booked up for some rugby game or other.
Good old New Zealand, eh.