Cultural Elsewhere

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CHARLES DICKENS' LONDON TODAY (2012): Lowered expectations

4 Aug 2013  |  4 min read

The end of the back garden at Charles Dickens' birthplace (right) in Portsmouth was shaved off in the Seventies for the M275 which aims north to the A3 for London. A shame – although Dickens, a “navy brat” in current parlance, only lived here for five months – but perhaps emblematic. By coincidence, the cul-de-sac in front of Dickens' first home -- then... > Read more

BILL SEVESI (2013): The sound of the Pacific

25 Jul 2013  |  3 min read  |  1

The wonderful Bill Sevesi is 90 as I write, and he has two compilation CDs out, each from a different record company. And each compiler -- working with Bill -- had plenty of music to choose from so there is no overlap . . . and room for quite a few more collections from this genius of lap steel guitar. Bill Sevesi has been featured at Elsewhere previously (notably in this profile) so... > Read more

Sleep Walk

MARK CROSS PROFILED (2013): The outsider looking outward

18 Jul 2013  |  6 min read

Odds are Mark Cross was among the oldest in the audience at the recent concert by American nail-hard metal rockers Tool. And probably the only artist. More than a decade ago he heard Tool's Enema and was taken by the lyrics “I'm praying for waves . . . flush it all away . . . learn to swim” which related to conversations he was having with the American writer Brad Matsen... > Read more

REVOLUTION, COMING RIGHT AT YA: The message in the music

29 May 2013  |  3 min read

In the on-going American discussion about "the right to bear arms", the flashpoints usually come from another shooting in a high school, a lone gunman on a rampage or what the Founding Fathers actually meant to say when they drafted the Constitution. Perhaps an interesting point of focus might be what happened in the late Sixties/early Seventies which is recent history . . . but... > Read more

The Creator Has a Master Plan (1970)

JOHN PULE IN NIUE (2013): The homecoming

12 May 2013  |  5 min read

John Pule pushes aside another tangle of thick branches, steps through the ankle-grabbing undergrowth, scans the ground which is strewn with coconuts then peers closely into the green canopy above. We're in thick and humid bush but he pushes on across the slippery limestone, further and further away from the narrow track which has lead him here. After more fruitless searching he... > Read more

YVES SAINT LAURENT (2013): Our man in Marrakech

3 May 2013  |  6 min read

While there's no argument about the genius of fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent, the jury is still out over his artwork. In my family, at least. After a visit to Jardin Majorelle in Marrakech – one of his former homes with partner and business manager Pierre Berge – I observed his posters in the Galerie Love (heavily laden with the word “love”) looked like... > Read more

CARAVAGGIO, MAN AND MYSTERY (Arts Channel doco): The cut and thrust of art

13 Mar 2013  |  4 min read

Few 17th century artists engage the modern audience in quite the same way as the man known as Caravaggio. He was, by contemporary accounts, an aggressive knife-carrying and swaggering figure, an innovative but volatile painter who spent time in prison for various assaults and profanities. Then – while painting some of the most exceptional work of his period – he murdered a... > Read more

VIKY GARDEN INTERVIEWED (2013): See me, feel me . . .

11 Mar 2013  |  8 min read  |  2

For more than 20 years Auckland artist Viky Garden has worked away from the mainstream of the New Zealand art world. Hers isn't a name that crops up regularly in general arts coverage and yet her self-portraits in solo exhibitions and group shows have won her a dedicated following. She has gallery representation in New Zealand, Britain and the US, and in 2011 she was a finalist in the... > Read more

CURATOR GAIL BUCKLAND INTERVIEWED (2012): It's not only rock'n'roll

11 Nov 2012  |  10 min read

Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders – appropriately wiry and driven, often in black, her signature fringe below her eyebrows – once said, “presentation is half of it in rock'n'roll. It's not just the music – there's music and there's attitude and there's the image”. From the uninhibited Elvis Presley captured by the camera when lost in the moment on stage in... > Read more

Gimme Shelter

MONA GALLERY, HOBART: Outsider and irritant art

7 Oct 2012  |  5 min read

The afternoon I arrive in Hobart to visit the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA), Germaine Greer is at the Queensland launch of the Brisbane Writers Festival claiming half of those in the state couldn't read a newspaper of follow the instructions on a medicine bottle. Twitterworld gets frenzied, writer Les Murray says he wouldn't “turn aside from a good urination to listen to... > Read more

HENNING MANKELL'S WALLANDER: A man out of time and place

17 Sep 2012  |  5 min read

So this is where the killings took place. All around here the bloody brutalities were acted out under this vast sky hanging like an ever-changing canopy over these golden fields of rape plants in bloom, tall pine forests and the dramatic, wind-blown coastline. Lone wolves and serial killers walked through this photogenic landscape and along these orderly streets of tidy, well-kept... > Read more

AUCKLAND ROCK VENUES (2003): Pull down the shades

2 Sep 2012  |  5 min read

It was Joni Mitchell who said it first - and Counting Crows thought it bore repeating: "They paved paradise and put up a parking lot." It wasn't exactly paradise which disappeared under the wrecking ball in Auckland city, but for rock fans plenty of places that took them pretty close to heaven. When it comes to knocking down buildings, Auckland has an impressive track... > Read more

HISTORY IN A HANDBAG: The Museum of Bags and Purses, Amsterdam

10 Aug 2012  |  3 min read  |  1

Behind a rather ordinary door off a quiet canal-street in Amsterdam is one of the city's most extraordinary museums, and this in a city which isn't short of museums. From the Rembrandt-stacked Rijksmuseum and the enormous Van Gogh collection to the ever-popular Sex Museum and one given over to tattoos (more interesting than you may think), Amsterdam seems awash with collections,... > Read more


27 Jul 2012  |  1 min read

New Zealand poetry has mostly existed on the margins of available technology. In the days of records, James K. Baxter had some of his poems on the Barney Flanagan EPs, there was a 1974 collection of contemporary poets in a striking Pat Hanly-painted beer bottle cover and Sam Hunt's Bottle to Battle to Death album. But not much else, until Auckland University Press weighed in with... > Read more

Love Trek


9 Jul 2012  |  11 min read

Since I first seriously reviewed an album about 40 years ago (the George Harrison triple set All Things Must Pass) I guess I have written in excess of maybe 6000 reviews of records/CDs/tapes etc -- and of course I have heard many, many more than that. Some people are well-read, I am well . . . Hmmm, there must be a word for it. In that time I have also reviewed hundreds of books, maybe... > Read more

RIGOLETTO REVIEWED (2012): The chill of the familiar

9 Jun 2012  |  2 min read

If any opera can successfully be relocated into our own time it is Verdi's grand sweep through corruption, avarice, lust, power play and venality that is Rigoletto. Here are familiar elements of contemporary political life played out in broad sweeps, and so it was entirely apt the New Zealand Opera production should be located in a chillingly crass world that bears strong resemblance... > Read more

PHOTOGRAPHER ALFREDO BINI PROFILED (2012): Point and shoot, and be shot at

9 Jun 2012  |  5 min read

As a career change, it couldn't have been more dramatic or life endangering. In a few fast years Alfredo Bini went from being a factory manager in Italy to a freelance photojournalist being shot at by Gaddafi's troops in the Libyan uprising. Bini was among the few journalists in Misratah and his photographs were the first the outside world would see of the nascent revolution which... > Read more

NZ OPERA'S BUNGA-BUNGA VERDI: Rigoletto in Berlusconi's Rome

4 Jun 2012  |  4 min read

Ten days out from Christmas and little more than a fortnight before the 2012 Sydney Festival opening night and director Lindy Hume seems almost unnaturally relaxed. Might have been the massage, she laughs. At this point, aside from the usual crises which hit at the last minute, she admits there isn't a lot she can do but let things play out for this – her third and final... > Read more


23 May 2012  |  4 min read

Say what you like about British artist Damien Hirst, and everyone from international art critics to London cabbies do, he certainly pulls a crowd. At the Tate Modern in London, the queue of those waiting to see his famous For the Love of God – his 2007 platinum cast of a skull encrusted with diamonds, teeth model's own – was of Disneyland length. And those attending... > Read more

A WALK OF ART IN SYDNEY: Art and about in Australia

18 Feb 2012  |  4 min read

We know Sydney is for shopping. But it's also a city where you can take a walk of art and come away excited, impressed, perhaps bewildered and always stimulated. So here are some suggestions for an arty but leisurely day out in Sydney (during which you will pass other galleries and points of interest), with some dining suggestions added. MORNING After breakfast somewhere down by... > Read more