Sunday, 23 March 2014

Whittaker's Big Egg Hunt

The Whittaker's Big Egg Hunt has begun. Hidden around the country in our three main centres are 100 decorated eggs measuring 1 metre high. Each egg tells a story and they have been decorated by New Zealand artists and designers. Just download the Big Egg Hunt app to your smart phone, turn your data (and GPS) on and you can go 'collecting' eggs. Today, I joined the hunt around Wellington.

There are so many beautifully painted eggs. I started out spotting a few on my way around town between errands today, then quickly abandoned my plans and got caught up in the excitement of looking for another egg, then the next one and the next ... before I knew it, I had 22 eggs collected on my app before deciding to go for a clean sweep of all the eggs in the CBD. Such a fun way to spend a Sunday in autumn.

Here's a selection of my favourite eggs (that I managed to get a decent enough photograph of on my phone). I plan to learn more about each of the eggs, finding out more about who designed each and what they wanted to create.

After criss-crossing 9 km of the city, I had collected 26 of Wellington's 30 eggs! There are four outside of the CBD and I may search for one or two more during the next few weeks. I also managed to score a handful of peanut slab vouchers along the way. Yum!

The eggs are in and around Wellington, Auckland and Christchurch until 22 April. They are also up for auction on Trade Me, so you can bid on your favourite egg with proceeds going to The Starship Foundation.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

A solid 17%

I met up with a friend and former colleague for lunch yesterday. She is bubbly, effervescent and dynamic to be around at work. It's hard not to 'buzz' with her nearby. She describes herself as high maintenance and "makes no apology for it". She is also someone who knows herself really well, what works for her and what doesn't. On some (many) days, she is absolutely on fire! On others, her energy levels are low and productivity seemingly grinds to a halt – but she no longer pretends to herself or others that she should be anything other than herself. Instead, she openly declares herself to be operating at a solid 17% on those days and knows that her output at other times more than makes up for moments of lethargy.

I am somebody who very much works in bursts of energy. A burst may last anywhere between several hours or several days. During these bursts, my productivity and output is outstanding; documents fall out of me faster than during coffee and Berocca-fuelled nights used to allow and all my thinking comes together lightning fast in various creative forms. People can't help but be impressed! ;-)

And then comes the crash, where I inevitably hit a proverbial wall. Everything is a chore. Files go AWOL. I look back and wonder what I have achieved (if anything), even though I have been 'busy' all day ... and then suddenly we start all over again and I'm off!

Here's an example:
I had set aside two whole days this week to work on a major project that I somehow finished in just a quarter of the time. By lunchtime yesterday I was done, 1.5 days ahead of my own schedule and with more detail than I had originally intended. I surprised even myself! But today is definitely a solid 17% day. I suppose it was inevitable.

My manager understands me well. She knows that the number of hours seated at a desk does not directly equate to levels of productivity or creativity and encourages everyone in our team to do whatever we know works best for us. She's a very smart woman. She currently has this quote (that may or may not have been coined by Einstein) as her Lync status. It suits me perfectly.

We were all having a chat about this in the office a while ago and lamenting that a conventional 8-5 working mentality doesn't always work so well for 'creative types'. (They've branded me as one of those - a description I quite like.) We agreed that a change of scenery or a complete break can sometimes yield far better results than just doing more of the same thing, albeit harder and longer than before. It certainly works for me.

A few minutes later, I received an email from my neighbour, CCed to everyone around us.
'I saw this quote and thought of you.

"The only thing one can give an artist is leisure in which to work. To give an artist leisure is actually to take part in his creation."
Ezra Pound, poet (1885-1972)

Despite the fact that Ezra Pound was a smelly fascist, he makes a good point. You should have more leisure time.'
Hear hear! Now, how does one get more leisure time?

Sunday, 9 March 2014

That sinking feeling

We had a party last night, a barbeque for some family and friends. We cooked a mountain of food and crossed our fingers that the weather gods would break our barbeque curse and instead deliver us a fine evening. The gods smiled! So what was on the menu? Two beer can chickens, Island Bay sausages, corn on the cob, homemade ciabatta, baked jacket potatoes with sour cream and homegrown chives, arancini to start, then banoffee tarts and mini chocolate eclairs with strawberry cream for dessert. Yum!

I love prepping for a party. Menu planning, the baking binge that starts the night before (and usually involves much singing and dancing in the kitchen), the spotless home that we only ever seem to achieve when we're entertaining, enjoying food, sunshine and great conversation ... why don't we do this more often?

The aftermath is less fun, though. I'm getting better at planning menus that revolve around one or two courses of finger food and cleaning up as we go but there is always still an inevitable mountain of dishes that follows the big event. Every time I fill the sink or scrub another barbeque tray, I think back to a poster that used to be displayed outside a favourite teacher's office at secondary school many years ago - one that I used to look at and think, "yeah, right. I'll never do that."

It turns out that Mrs Miller was right. Last night (and today), this is what was on my mind.

Ah, c'est la vie!

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Shapeshifter sculptures

Shapeshifter is a biennial exhibition of art and sculpture that is part of the 2014 New Zealand Festival. Curated outdoors at the Lower Hutt Civic Gardens, there are sculptures of all shapes, sizes and media. You can see the large scale sculptures close up or stand back to appreciate their full effect. It's a great opportunity to get up close to art work and even touch some of the pieces. *gasp!* Shapeshifter is open every day until 16 March 2014.

Here are some pieces that caught my attention. The full size pictures look far more impressive than the thumbnails so I have kept the file sizes large. Each piece is for sale, but I imagine you'd need a large (or 'character') back yard for them live in permanently. The captions are my own; I didn't buy a catalogue so I don't know the official titles. Instead, I've described my impression of them.

Colourful hanging flowers
One Of These.
They say everybody needs one.
Optical illusion
Builder's shorts carved from wood - stunning!
I'd love this balloon stuck in a tree.
Not too sure about the stick it's attached to, though.
A super-impressive picnic table setting, completely carved out of wood.
The daisies on the grass are made out of police danger tape.
I like the way the sun (and wind) brought this sculpture to life.
Polar bear wearing a hoodie.
A statement on global warming.