Saturday, 19 August 2017

Penny For The Guy

An English tradition that had cemented itself into Waitara's culture in the 1950's was the observance of Guy Fawkes Day.

Why we celebrated a pyromaniac/arsonist with great gusto many thousands of miles away from the fable origin remains somewhat of a mystery?  My best guess is that it was one of the vestiges of "Mother England" that remained in our psyche at the time.

As children we were not worried about origins.  November 5th was an excuse for buying skyrockets, catherine wheels, sparklers and crackers from the local stationers and Chinese grocers.

There was a also a competition run by the town to see who could produce the best 'Guy'.  This involved stuffing old and discarded trousers, shirts and jackets with hay or newspaper so that the effigy resembled a human.

We wheeled these around the neighbourhood in a wheel barrow shouting "penny for the guy", although in truth, very few pennies were forthcoming.

The local children then paraded heir Guy Fawke's creations down one of the main streets of Waitara where they were judged by a local panel and prizes awarded.  I have to report that my efforts never made it to the winner's dais but we had great fun nevertheless.  (An example of another town's celebration can be seen in the image below).

The fate of the 'guys' was preordained.  They were all incinerated as part of the big community fire down at the Waitara Beach domain. This was the time where we lit our fireworks and placed rocket sticks in an old beer bottle holder so they blazed upward.  Sparklers were the chosen fancy of the younger set who were closely supervised.

While fireworks are still sold in New Zealand to celebrate November 5th I suspect that the legend of Guy Fawkes is no longer understood by those who make such a purchase.  Times change, and our Asian community and civic authorities use fireworks to celebrate other major events on the calendar.

Guy Fawkes Day 1912 – History Geek

Saturday, 1 July 2017

An Art Awakening

Yours truly at right on a potter's wheel in the PNTC art department. (Dianne Foley at left?)
When I first went to Palmerston North Teacher's College in 1967 I majored in music.  But I found both the tutor and the curriculum rather boring and far more exciting things appeared to be happening in the Art department under the tutelage of Frank Davis and Ray Thorburn.

My good friend John Brebner who I played rugby with for College was also studying art, and I recall visiting his lodgings and seeing him plugging away on a painting.

I decided that the visual arts (and particularly sculpture) were far more appealing than banging on a triangle!

Te Kooti Inspires His Warriors - F. Davis 
Frank Davis, who later became my mentor and a close family friend, agreed to me changing my study major from music to art if I produced a satisfactory portfolio over the Xmas break -  which I did.  (The painting at left is one of Frank's Te Kooti series.  I bought it off him when I was teaching in Rotorua and sold it much later at auction when I was shifting cities. Still have one of his drawings from this series)

Prior to Teachers College I had never really shown any great aptitude or motivation where the visual arts were concerned but I took to it like a duck to water.

It was a decision that changed my life and to this day the visual arts have dominated my life -  the creative beast unleashed!  A career as a secondary school art teacher followed after two years as a primary teacher.  Then a three stint as head of a regional art school in Papua New Guinea.  Several years where also spent as a Director of NZ art Museums in Hawke's Bay and Waikato (with a dash of museum marketing at the NZ Maritime Museum in Auckland thrown in)

I exhibited painting, prints and sculpture along the way before moving in to digital art later in life.

But all of this life started back in the Grey Street art department of Palmerston North Teachers College.

NB: The woman in the top photograph appears to be Di Foley from Wanganui who sang in a folk singing truly with Tom Hunter and myself.

Saturday, 1 October 2016

A View From Fort Canning

Our final evening in Singapore, in July 2010, was spent in Fort Canning Lodge; a place I would thoroughly recommend for those travelling on a budget. 

The view from the hill was memorable and I have used these memories as the inspiration for this art work.

View From Fort Canning
Roger Smith - 2016
Art Print - Copies available here.
Fort Canning is one of the few remaining elevated natural places in Singapore.  Early illustrations show several more hills, but these have been leveled over time for land reclamation and city development.

Copies of this art work are available as prints from my online store.

I also place them on this Pinterest board.

Thursday, 30 June 2016

Fort Canning History

I hadn't realised that Singapore' Fort Canning contained a large cemetery years ago, but these images in the Straits Times shows what the place was like in the past and what it is like now.

Fort Canning is one of those places that one feels a deep almost spiritual connection to; now I know why.

Fort Canning then

Fort Canning now

Friday, 27 May 2016

New Singapore Art Prints

Check out these my Singapore art prints on this Ppinterest board

Saturday, 9 April 2016

Old Singapore - New Book

I have just produced a publication showcasing old Singapore postcard images.  It's quite fascinating to see how Singapore was in days past.

Click on the book to view of use this direct link.

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

The Art Of Golf - When Twin Passions Come Together

I have written before about my my late and growing interest in watching the LPGA. The main reason for this 'sporting flowering' being the rise and progress of New Zealand's own golfing superstar, Lydia Ko.

To see someone so young achieve so much, in such a short space of time, has been quite extraordinary.  She is a credit to her family and a proud Kiwi, which her adopted country greatly appreciates.

A growing interest in golf reminded me of the unique shape and patterns of golfing paraphernalia and the figures in action which lent themselves to artistic interpretation.

The result is this coffee table book which records recent art works based on a golfing theme.  As I stated in its introduction I make no apologies for the eclectic mix of styles.  They were used as the mood took me!

Click on the book above to see a preview or go directly to the publishers here. The art works illustrated in the publication are also available as quality prints from TheGolfStore.

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Digerarti IV - New art book

My new art book published today. Click on the pages to view the contents