Posted by & filed under Travel Country: New Zealand.


So I had arranged to meet up with the designer, Sandra Thompson, the woman who made my dress, when I got to Paihia. She lives in Russell which is only a ten minute ferry across the water from Paihia. It was a beautiful day and Sandra and I found each other on the pier in Russell. We had lunch and went to the Russell Museum, where Helme Heine’s art exhibition was on.

We were talking before about my interest in the Maori culture and she mentioned this exhibition to me. Helme Heine’s a German artist and writer. In the exhibition, he “holds a mirror up to both Pakeha (New Zealanders of European descent) and Maori, hoping that each will recognize not only their own self but also their essential counterpart”. This exhibition will also be in the Frankfurt Book Fair in October this year, whose theme is New Zealand. It was an interesting exhibition. If you go to see it, make up your own minds as to what you think of it. It’s a bit controversial.

Next we went to a shop called “Just Imagine”, on York Street, where Sandra displays some of her work. The shop where I saw her dress a few years ago, closed down unfortunately. Not enough business. The craft pieces that are in here are absolutely stunning! Sandra’s work is fabulous. She works with materials like felt, silk, merino wool, hemp, flax etc. Her original garments are her signature.

She not only designs but also makes unique, personally designed creations. She makes jackets, dresses and more recently, wraps. The colours she uses are bright, vivid, exciting and combined with the type of fabrics she uses, makes her garments stunning and unique. She has a website, Creative Getup, showing a small amount of her work, but when you see them for real, the colours, textures and movement in them make you want to buy them.

There was one New Zealand artist who I was really impressed by. Her name is Adurey Rudnick. She works with wood and there were three pieces on display which were amazing. These figures were made of dark wood, were about two feet tall, all women and their skirts were little swirls of wood, like sawdust shavings. There is a lot of movement in their forms and they really had an African feel to them. This artist had traveled quite a bit and had recently been to Africa, so obviously she was influenced by the African imagery.

There was also an excellent piece of art made out of wood and it was in the shape of a man’s jacket, hanging on a coat rack. The folds of the jacket were perfect and it had a pen in the breast pocket and a pair of sunglasses sticking out of the right hand pocket. It was like someone had frozen it and changed it into a piece of wood. There were other pieces there which were made out of coloured glass, in unusual forms and shapes, ceramics and watercolours. The talent was brilliant.

I also went into a place called Haratu, next door to the Russell Museum, a Maori Art Gallery and Retail Shop. It showcases local artists, carvers, weavers and supports local products and Maori enterprise. There was a huge kete (weaved basket) just inside the door. It was the length of a child’s bed, a project that the local weavers had worked on. They also do an hour’s guided walk through Russell.

I went back into the Blue Swordfish Club on the main street. I had been here two and a half years ago and really liked it. They serve food here and have a fabulous terrace on the first floor, overlooking the bay of Russell. I had dinner here and around 8pm, I sat on a bench by the waterfront to watch the sun go down. It’s gorgeous here in Russell, especially at dusk, when the sun is setting. I got the last ferry back at 10pm.