Monday, June 24, 2013

Whakatane Museum/Library & Exhibition Centre

A couple of weeks ago I went in to town with The Mother, and whilst she was finishing up some volunteer stuff, I whiled away about an hour in the Whakatane museum/art gallery/exhibition centre.
Now, a bit of contention surrounds this beautiful 'new' building.  The Library had to move out of the old building because the council wanted the space for more offices (cough).  So - they converted the old Briscoes building in a combo Library/Museum space.

But.  The people designing the space cared only about the museum side, knew nothing about libraries, and as a result many, many books have had to be thrown out because there is simply not enough room for the library there, and there is nothing else to be done.

Now, if you know me - you know I believe books are not something to be trifled with.  I do not approve.  However, with a completely broke council and the bad decisions already made, I see nothing that can be done except accept it.  Do the best with what you have, and fight for the things that are important to you - like retaining a local library at all.

Don't even get me started on the ridiculousness of having only one two-lane bridge across the river, because they ran out of money to build the planned second one.  You build an industrial estate, residential suburb and shopping centre on the other side and then act surprised at the traffic bottleneck?!  Gah.

A bit of local politics and background for you there, what a treat.  (I see the traffic faux pas every morning that I drive into the SPCA.  It's stupid).

The museum itself is lovely.  Very heavy leaning towards specifically local lore and history, which was very cool (ie not trying to be a mini Te Papa, and cover NZ as a whole).  A lot of local war history, trade and manufacturing.  Local sports heroes and 'celebrities', things like that.

There was one particular statuette which caught my interest, his name is 'Waitangi', from the 1980's-ish and is by Sir Sidney Moko Mead.  The caption struck me as a slightly tongue-in-cheek critique on national reaction stereotypes:

"people react to [him] in different ways.  Some welcome him as an old friend and admire what he stands for.  Some are not too sure because they have heard many negative statements about him.  Others do not want to even look at [him] - preferring he disappears never to be seen again."

You can see he holds the treaty scroll and a quill.

Societal critiques in the form of art are lovely things to behold.

The rooms are poorly ventilated/air conditioned and it was a bit stifley, and I didn't like the art series on show in the back room; a series of near-identical Tiki photographs: the first one is cool, but a whole room full is very repetitive, half way round I stopped giving even a cursory look at the name labels.

The final exhibition room held, wonder of wonders, a patchwork quilt exhibition - as inspired by Kaffe Fassett.  Some of the pieces were most definitely not quilted by hand, which was nice - a quilter after my own heart.  Fassett is an American artist (living in London) and is basically all about the colour - most often psychedelic colour - I bet he loved the late 60's.  Google image search 'Fassett knitwear', I dare you (can I make a Bain joke?!).  He was the first living textile artist to show at the V&A in London, which is pretty cool.

The Fassett inspired quilts:
And some detail on my favourite:
I wonder how often the exhibits change? (ok, they run for between 1 to 3 months, I looked it up).

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