Wednesday, 26 December 2012

I am granted my freedom

A great relief! I have not been asked back to my job teaching at a local high school.That means I don't have to leave.The decision has been made! The door is opening. I see a small slot of light.It is the teacher waiting in her room.The room is fragrant,like Christ,like blessed Allah himself.
I am on the plane to Wellington.I meet a lovely woman called Liz, who notices that I am reading The Power of Now by Ekhart Tolle. We talk easily about this way of being-some call it mindfulness,others Zen,still others (like myself) living in the present.It turns out she is using it in her practice as a counsellor. This goes out to you Liz, very nice to have met you. Bless you in your work.
Then I am in Queenstown, strolling the promenade, hearing the Spanish,the American, the Mandarin. I  excitedly tell a Chinese family from Shanghai that my great grandfather Huang Ah Poo Hoc Ting came from Shanghai. They look at me as if I am trying to sell them something,seeming somewhat surprised to strike up conversation with a New Zealander.
Which reminds me of a story.I had an art student a few years back,a recent migrant from China.I told her with great pride that my great grandfather was Chinese.She looked at me suspiciously and blurted out  "You don't look Chinese!"
This is my great grandad (on the left) and my great grandma Ellen Snooks

Me posing in front of a random glacier,showing my obvious Chinese genes
Its a strange place Queenstown. Not unfriendly,I was quite happy with the place. You do get the feeling that tourists 'own' the place. In the sense that they feel at ease there and dominate the public spaces. I met 2 kiwis in a week of shopping and encounters at various kiosks,information centres etc.Just interesting to observe-no judgements here.Actually I prefer their attitude to the sense of entitlement that kiwi shop owners often project.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

At the risk of being the party pooper,This is Wellington,not Middle Earth!

The other day I flew into Middle Earth or should I say Wellington Airport. I passed by a giant figure of something I should know-Gollum?.I collected my luggage from the Hobbit baggage collection centre and caught a Bus to Middle Earth Railway station.
A few days later,in a surreal chain of events I found myself 20 metres from the stars of the Hobbit as they alighted their shiny cars to the screams of the crowd-this was Courtenay Place in Wellington city. I felt one of the crowd, my son on my shoulders;one of the cast,sharing in their glory, rubbing a bit of gold off them onto me.Only problem was I didn't know any of them.I'm not sure that the crowd did either,but they just as happily cheered and held up their camera phones.The other weird part of this story is that the movie hasn't even come out yet.In an unprecedented move, merchandising is in full swing before the movie has come out.  I've seen T-shirts in the Warehouse, posters,models, swords and a whole lot more besides.Here in Queenstown, where I'm staying on holiday,there is a Hobbit horse trek.Its not visiting movie set  locations.Its just riding horses. Not accidentally though, there are LOTR movie set locations near here.People are talking as if they have seen the Hobbit Movie,saying how great it all is.Has anyone seen it yet? Nope.Um, what if its a lemon, I asked my children.What, dad? You party pooper! You are just jealous blah blah...... its ok dad,its gonna be awesome!
Before I break into my Bored of the Rings eulogy-I withstood a full screening of the first movie- I had better be fair minded about it all. Ok I don't like it. Peter Jackson hasn't made a good movie since the one about the girls who murdered their mother..But it has done good things for NZ.It has for the few thousand who work on it and it must inject money into the local (Wellington) economy.But the government has backed these movies made by Sir Peter. That means New Zealand citizens.We still pay full price for tickets,which goes to show that we dont mind being ripped off,as long as we're made famous in the process.And being strung along we are.Yes thats right; 3 movies of the Hobbit. You have to see them all.That's like going for a burger and being charged 3 times- for the bun, then the meat,then the filling.
The other thing that concerns me is that the movie industry is notably fickle.Its here today gone tomorrow. Peter Jackson himself said that movie making companies are right now competing for movies to be made in their countries,and governments are subsidising their efforts.Should we be investing so heavily in this industry? Probably; every other industry seems precariously sitting on the ledge.Even new Zealands pride and joy Fonterra could go down the tubes on the global dairy market. As John Key rightly pointed out though,no one can compete with New Zealand on Location.We have stunning natural places as yet unspoilt by humans.
Its almost an act of treason to say you don't like LOTR..All very worrying crowd behaviour if you ask me.

Two of my children,Ina and Toby on a Hobbit location high above Queenstown
Tonight I'm walking my children and their mother down to the local Queenstown cinema where they will queue up and join in the fun and excitement of the first showing of the Hobbit.Good on them.I did the same for the Harry Potter opening. It will be a fabulous movie.How could I think otherwise?

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Art events coming up........

Art cruise the Marlborough Sounds
New Zealand
17th-20th January 2013
with your tutor Duncan Hill

Come aboard.....
For artists who have begun their creative journey and want to extend or deepen their confidence and competence, who love nature and the outdoors and who want time to get into art without interruption.
This will be a ‘working holiday’ you will never forget: a three day creative journey into the pristine Marlborough Sounds aboard a chartered motor launch.

Sailing into coves and sounds that know no roads-getting some serious art tips or be left alone-its up to you. Guided by a friendly, encouraging and experienced artist and tutor who allows you the space to develop your own art without overt interference, but who is there to help you when needed.  All without the huge price tag and the overseas travel that a comparable art tour might involve.

What you will find………..
Feel alive and enthusiastic about your art, gaining more confidence in handling your chosen media, visual notetaking and drawing/painting from real life observation.

Newfound sharpened awareness and ways of seeing,

You’ll feel inspired, relaxed and invigorated by the dramatic and beautiful Queen Charlotte Sound.

An enjoyable experience of working together in a small supportive group.

And you will have made some lasting friendships!
About Duncan Hill
Duncan Hill has been making art, writing, teaching and building and for over 20 years. He creates art and word works for people who want to understand, reflect on and celebrate life. In his teaching capacity Duncan has been teaching art in a classroom setting and with adults and children  since 1991.More specifically he has tutored drawing and painting in a variety of media. He enjoys the interaction with people and walking in with them in their creative travels.
Duncan also enjoys time in the wilderness, being a keen tramper and outdoorsman. He has previous knowledge of and love for the Marlborough Sounds having lived there for periods of time during the 80s and 90s and returns there as often as he can.
For more of Duncan’s work see

What people have said
“What I gained is to use drawing as a way to relax and express a creative side in myself. Duncan is hugely supportive of that and somehow miraculously makes it possible for all in the course to create most beautiful art work. My way of looking at things changed and I see a great more detail. I also started enjoying working with different materials and discovered that ink is one of my favourites”.
Maria Borovnik

I really enjoyed Duncan’s art classes - he creates a positive learning environment with a relaxed atmosphere..

He brings energy and creative enterprise to his classes, along with honed adult teaching skills, coupled with an intrinsic understanding of the learning and creative process. As a tutor he instills in his students a passion for art and gives them the confidence and encouragement to seek their inner artist”.
Lyn Nikoloff

For more information and registration forms contact Duncan Hill          06 3637575        mob 0272623666