1. The Tenderness of Light
This is how The Tenderness of Light is written up in the catalogue of the Fringe Festival exhibition Translucent Landscapes which opened on Thursday March 1.
At 5.30 pm that night, a hundred or so people crowded into the abandoned optometrist's premises on Ghuznee Street to celebrate the work of our 'pop-up' community of nine visual artists, one composer and myself.
The artists and their work: installation art, photography, oils, drawings, videomedia and more, were there to interact with and enjoy (see end of blog for images), and at the appointed time, I stood in front of the gathering and read The Tenderness of Light in its entirety! After that, Iain Gordon's composition Ice was performed with him on mandolin, my son Paul on guitar and Slava Fainitski on violin.
Gorgeous. All of it. And not just the art or poems or music that were out there in front of people, but the community we'd formed - the work we'd done together to get the exhibition up and running, and the work we'd done in our own discipline that bounced off everyone else's work, in one way or another, and off the place itself. We are all in awe of curator Helen Reynolds who made it happen.
I sold about 20 copies of my book that night, and each sale was an unexpected and unbelievable gift. In all the writing and designing and printing and handbinding, I hadn't thought what it would be like for someone to open Tenderness and read it and want to keep it, or for someone to hear me read and want to own the poems to read again. Yes, I've sold fiction, but this is different - far more personal, an offering of self. Perhaps, too, because I've waited so long for this.
Of course my lovely family and friends bought the book without even so much as opening it - and thank God for those people, how could a writer or artist exist without them? - but I was deeply touched when I stopped reading
and a man who owns a barn in the Tararua foothills brought a copy of Tenderness to me to write his name in it (they're already signed). He said my poems about the Wairarapa - just over the hill from him - spoke to him and encouraged him to write. Then there was the elderly woman who squeezed my hand when she took the book from me, and the violinist in the trio who clutched a copy to his chest as he left. The next day a woman with flame red hair bought a copy to send to friends in San Francisco, because she wanted something New Zealand.
The Translucent Landscapes exhibition is on at 75 Ghuznee Street, Wellington from March 1-22, open daily 11am -6 pm. Free entry. The Tenderness of Light is available there or you can email firstname.lastname@example.org to order a copy from me direct.
Below are some photos from the exhibition, but first here is my lovely team of bookbinders who worked away like elves into the night.
That's me, grinning away at the back with dark hair and pale shirt, on my left (going round the table) Alexandra, Carrie, Helen (the host and bookbinder extraordinaire wearing the red shawl), Issy (my daughter), Fifi, Ayliffe, Heather.
|Legs by Poppy Lekner from her Lightness of Being series|
|Installation by Kath Joyce-Kellaway|
|Clouds by Helen Reynolds|
|Video by Mike Ting|