26 August, 2019

Hiraeth: Exhibition

This exhibition had it's genesis in a woodshed in Clyde, Central Otago.

I was staying at what must be my favourite holiday house in New Zealand . This house, built in the 1880's, had everything that I knew and loved about old houses that I miss so much in new, timber framed houses.
It had cathedral high ceilings, thick walls with windowsills so deep you could sit on them, wooden floors, slate floor kitchen, clawfoot bathtub, wonky panes of glass that were thicker on the bottom than the top, picture rails and fireplaces....this house had been lovingly restored ,renovated and furnished ..... I loved it. It reminded me of the house I grew up in, a place I  always called home.
But home is a place that lives in the imagination and the house I grew up in is much changed because I am much changed.

The woodshed in Clyde was a treasure trove of floorboards, architraves and various architectural  accessories that the owners had carefully sourced and were using to renovate the house as authentically and as sensitively as possible.

I liberated a floorboard from this repository and painted a vignette of a Clyde street as a gift my hosts. It seemed important that I paint a picture ON a piece of the place. Only, it did not look like Clyde, it looked like a composite of many towns I have passed through that all, funnily enough, look a bit like Clyde. Places in South Africa, places in Australia, places in New Zealand, ...they share a similar colonial signature and it was this that started me thinking about the concept of home and Hiraeth.

Kirsty aka Elfinthings ,is originally from Wales. We regularly drink tea, chat about our boys and muse at the complexities  we both experience of being immigrants, both loving our new home in New Zealand but having a clear sense of not really belonging. We have both had a whole life that existed before we came to New Zealand and we have commiserated with one another the loss of history, familiarity , friends and family. We also recognise that the loss is permanent, even if we ever returned, because everything has changed, as have we, and nothing will ever be like it was in memory.  
And that grief is Hiraeth.

So , she stitches and I paint .

We would love to show you our work together .

There will be no sobbing.

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