Last year when I lived at Henderson House
in Alexandra in Central Otago,
the views from my balcony were
The cloud scenes especially were so remarkable
that for the first time in my photographic life
I almost became a cloud photographer.

Central Otago


I’m finding that I am missing Central Otago.
I had the experience of living for a year
in this Ernst Plischke house overlooking Alexandra
and the Clutha River and a year like that gets
into your bones.
The top photo is from the driveway, the lower
photo is from the balcony on the opposite side
of the house. There were often magnificent clouds,
these reminding me of Dali.

The Blog Masters

Overthenet (OTN) have just made their 1500th posting. I congratulate Jim Barr & Mary Barr most sincerely. It is a remarkable achievement. Not only does it take discipline and stamina to sustain this output but they are almost a lone voice in the New Zealand art scene. Few others ask such important questions of art establishments and in such a prolonged way, most of us wouldn’t dare. Or, if we worked in a university or a civic art gallery, we probably wouldn’t be allowed even if we secretly agreed.

I started blogging just a few weeks before they began, if my memory serves me correctly, if not I apologise, and I am only just in reach of 600. My blogging stamina has seriously fallen off in recent months, I’m worn out, and going through a demoralised phase in my life so I particularly appreciate what they do. I haven’t taken a new photo for many months although I am trying to view this as an incubation period.

The posting that I have linked to today is one that they have chosen to mark the occasion of their 1500th. That is me on the left in this image taken more than 20 years ago. The photo is from the Barr’s extensive archives.

I have observed them building these archives since about 1975 or 76, when Jim was director of the Dowse and I had my first public gallery exhibition there. Don Driver was also exhibiting on that occasion.

PS the photo of the quail I took last year at Henderson House where I was artist-in-residence. I fed the quail and they became so tame that they even came inside, a practise I had to discourage quite promptly as two or three tried to take a shortcut to the outside and killed themselves on the window panes. There is always a member of the group, who stood up on a high perch, acting as a sentinel. This is one of those. Sometimes there were about 30 in the groups. We need more sentinels.

The Almond Tree

Last year, when I was living at Henderson House high above Alexandra in Central Otago, there was an almond tree in the garden. It was the first fruit tree to flower, very early in the spring, almost in late winter but alone and laden. The apricots, plums, and apples were all much later so this tree stood out, alone and laden.

At the time I took one photo of the scene, this one. Very Pictorialist in feel I recognise, but then the Pictorialism movement in photography has never been anathema to me. I’m more of the opinion that great photography has been made in all styles and with all cameras ever since photography was invented and I don’t like to miss out.

I’ve just returned from Auckland where I had ten of this small image printed . This evening I’m wondering if that is going to be enough. Judging the size of an edition is not a straightforward process for me. Frequently I’ve misjudged and printed too few, at other times, too many.

Spring in Alexandra

This area is famous for its spring display, in fact there is even a blossom festival held here every year. At present a vivid green is appearing on many of the trees.

I am trying to photograph blossom, but once again, as with autumn colour, it’s a well trodden track and very hard to find something original to say about it.

This view is from my bedroom window.


Yesterday afternoon this group came to visit Henderson House in Alexandra, where I am living until next Feb. Here they are being photographed by an accompanying lecturer.

Half way through this residency already. Eek. Haven’t had a keeper for some time. Oh well, other things have happened, material for new photographs I hope. Good theory anyway and I probably want to believe. But I digress. All but two in this photo are staff and students from Unitech in Auckland, on an architectural field trip. The extra two are a German couple now living here. A doctor and a pianist.

Their responses to the house and garden, especially when expressed in Architectural English, a vernacular I most particularly like, added to my enjoyment of this building and I thank them for that. There was no guided tour, it was more wander wherever you fancy, sit wherever you desire, linger wherever you wish. I even tidied up my bedroom. No more feral socks, for a while anyway, in spite of my best efforts, they have a talent for reinfesting I know. DDT next.

The basement of this house, behind the group in this photograph, was the source of the schist from which the walls of this house were constructed.

It was food for me to have conversations with visitors of such quality. And field trips as an educational
tool I believe in so we got off on the right foot from the start. Any of them would be most welcome to visit me again.

Two Views

Here are two views taken today. The top one, is of me signing the back of prints. Thank you H, I like it, especially the telescope in the background.

If I was to raise my eyes from the table at which I am working the bottom photo is the view that I would see.

From the Road

Here is a view of some of the road frontage at Henderson House.
I have never lived amongst such rocks before, it’s a remarkable experience for me.
More and more I appreciate the subtleties of this schist. This house is made from schist so it’s possible to lie in bed and study it.

Here is a basement room. The stone was cut from the site.