Memory (Open Studio) – at OFA

The Old Folks Association hall in Gundry St has been a rich mine of stories, imagery and associations. The studio in the back room is changing; chalk graffiti and little paintings starting to fill the space. Next week the doors will be open for anyone interested in coming to look, to talk with me or to have a cup of tea and see the space.

I will be there to open the room on Wednesday 2 December (11 – 4), Thursday 3 (5.30 – 7.30) and Friday 4 (10 – 4).


Doors at OFA

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At the Old Folks Association the doors drew me in – open one and there were two more! – sometimes shut (some locked), sometimes open, depending on who is using the building and how they feel about the need for some privacy.

Pertinent to old age, I had read research showing we are more likely to forget what we have gone to find when we walk through a door to go and get it. So, not a good thing for old folks to have a lot of doorways to walk through to go and get the minutes book or a pen.

Having photographed the doors from inside and out, open and closed, the cupboard doors attracted my attention – there is a wall full of cupboard doors! But inside the cupboards, so many cups, glasses, plates …… Discovering all these items for providing comfort and refreshment supported my initial sense that this is a building which welcomes you. The stated objects of the Old Folks Association were “to overcome loneliness and offer friendship and happiness to elderly people”, and there is a strong sense of hospitality which is being maintained today by a new group of carers. This would have mitigated any negative effects of having to walk through many doors.

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I am finding it a splendid place to spend time, and enjoy the encounters with the people of all kinds who come to use the building.  Working there is an open-ended thing, an opportunity to let ideas develop and to develop a bit of a routine of “going to the studio” where I draw, paint and think.

I have installed a new sign over the front door to replace ADORE – it is DELIGHT – a synonym for ENTRANCE and also a play on the fact that there is no LIGHT ( the fitting in the porch is broken). But also seen I hope as expressing an invitation I have felt OFA extends to anyone who wants to come and enjoy the magic of this modest building and the people who create events in it.


You can find more about OFA at

September projects

September has been a busy month, finishing work to take to Dunedin for an exhibition at the Inge Doesburg gallery, and being in residence at the Old Folks Association with Jersey.

Dreaming of summer is traveling South, with the addition of 4 saplings.

Saplings (19) (Medium)Saplings (20) (Medium)Saplings (31) (Medium)

They are dancing on their way!

In between working on the little trees and getting lights ready for them, I have been working in a back room at the Auckland Old Folks Association (OFA) in Gundry St, Newton. A relic of the large community that once filled the valley where the motorway now runs, it is a wonderful space to work in and spend time in.

The outside of OFA (1)The outside of OFA (2)

I have become fascinated with the huge number of doors within the building – allowing a simple, 3 room space with a kitchen to be used at one time by different groups involved in their individual activities.

Doors (1) Doors (2) Doors (3)

From the first day I had had an urge to clean the grime from the Entrance sign, to give it the brightness that OFA offers to its users. Close up to the lettering its alternative meaning, to entrance or delight, jumped out and I started playing with that idea. Doors that I was drawing and photographing percolated through my mind and out came, ADORE.

P1040419 (2) (Medium) P1040422 (2) (Medium)P1040423 (2) (Medium)P1040424 (2) (Medium)

The best thing is that people do not notice it!

Walking trees

A site specific practice constantly brings new forms to explore. Earlier this year I was invited to participate in ‘one’s own trade’, a group exhibition and silent auction based on exchanging goods or services for artworks. Organised by Hannah Davis-Gray and Harriet Stockman, this took place in containers provided by Waterfront Auckland which were situated in an area where, historically, the loading and unloading of freight and passengers had taken place.
From Te Wero bridgeCustom tradersThe crate

I think there is an inherent tension in marginal places and borders and am interested in the adaptations of life and life-forms that exist in/on the periphery of distinct or incompatible zones. Earlier experiments with root systems extending my yarn branches had generated ideas of trees that walked because of the springiness of the wire roots. Root trial (4)

The waterfront location started me thinking about the plants which exist in the intertidal zone and quickly led to paper mache versions of mangrove saplings which (not in New Zealand but in tropical areas) can stand proud of the mud and water on long roots. Red mangrove

The finished 5 mangroves were grouped, root/legs entwined and in the end gained a number of great bids so I was able to get help to do a massive cleanup and prune in the garden (work with real plants that I don’t do because I am sitting mulling over or making facsimiles of plants!)

Publicity shot Meola mangroves

The tide went out, the art came in

Between Tides 2015 – another stunningly beautiful day with brilliant blue sky and a soft breeze. ‘Hung out to dry’ stood up although it had a very fragile makeshift look to it, and the people-shapes fluttered like prayer flags.

Hung out to dry

Hung out to dry

This year the works seemed more spread out, but walking around on the sand there was a lot to be seen that wasn’t obvious from a distance. Here is a quick overview of who was there on Sunday March 1st:

A dance performance by the Overflow group and the TAPAC Creative Contemporary children’s dance group dramatically illustrated the lethal effect of plastic on the marine environment and brought a whole additional audience to the beach.

Overflowstarts Overflowboysputrubbishin recyclingbin

On holiday

Carol's plums

Carol’s plums

A rolling boil

A rolling boil

Carol’s plums sit ripening on the bench – a bag bursting with them is too many to eat so I make plum jam (adding some raspberries too). While I clean out the pots cupboard (involving crawling on my belly into the back corner, reminiscent of horrid descriptions of potholing) the jam cools and the lids pop as they seal.

Five pots of jam

Five pots of jam

Too hot today to go outside though Mo makes trips to check on the monarch butterfly chrysalis action – they have abandoned the stripped swan plants and headed off to hang and then do their amazing transformation (more wonderful I think than when they hatch out as a butterfly as at that end you can already see the patterns of the wings through the case).

Supplementary feeding

Supplementary feeding

Stripped swan plants

Stripped swan plants

Hanging and hung

Hanging and hung