“I cannot remember a time in my life where creativity was not a part of my everyday life so really this way of being has run alongside my living for all the years I can remember enriching and colouring my days both in my home and work life.”
How would you describe what you do?
I look back on a life of different creative expressions. My theatre work for 25 plus years was an enormous expression of creativity. Even called at one stage the Creative Drama Centre before it became the Christchurch Drama Centre.
From 2004 I have added another element to my creative work becoming an author. Writing is an ongoing creative outlet resulting in three published books over the past 13 years. Time for the next one I think.
What are you working on now – or what was your most recent project?
This would have been in 2019 doing completing and marketing of my last book Living with Earthquakes.
The most recent project has been reviewing the Drama Centre Collection which is in the permanent collection at the Canterbury Museum. It has taken me the last 18 months to visit and view various aspects of this very significant collection and write a proposal for a possible Museum exhibition. This is ongoing.
What project have you been involved with that is the most memorable for you?
This has to be producing ‘Linnaeus Prince of Flowers” Directed by British Director Toby Gough in the Christchurch Botanic Gardens . We did the show twice. First time 1995 and last time 2002.This stands out for me as the most demanding and most rewarding and fantastic project I ever initiated and saw to conclusion in NZ. Anyone who was fortunate enough to see this I think would agree.
I am currently working on putting together a digitalised version of the original filming of the show with the hope it may having a showing in one of our art house film theatre so we can bring together people who were involved in these productions. The full 3 hours…re living Linnaeus.
What is essential for a creative person to have in their life?
A creative person needs the time and space to work unfettered by too much financial worry. It’s amazing to have a supportive partner as I did so you do not feel too guilty when you can’t earn regular income or when you work out your hourly rate when your play opens or your book is launched…for e.g. in NZ a good selling run for a new book might be 3 to 4000 copies! You cannot allow yourself to measure your achievement by its financial return.
For me having an oasis of beauty and peace on our property has been essential. Travel and the sharing with colleagues in other countries has been a privilege and very important to me in my theatre work.
How has your time in Ōtautahi informed your work, or inspired you?
This is where I made my life and for 42 of these years on our property in Governors Bay on the Banks Peninsula. This setting, this place is an integral part of my creative expression-the seasons and all that comes with those definite changes of our latitude and the natural landscape so particular to or setting in Governors Bay-the sea, the sky and the hills, ever present.
The heritage buildings in Christchurch –the Arts Centre in particular have been a home for my inspiration and creativity for more than 40 years, and for the thousands who came through the Drama Centre classes ,workshops and performances.
The colours of our southern landscapes, bright, sharp –constantly inspiring while other aspects of the natural environment, very challenging and outside our control. Earthquakes, a large part of the past 10 years for us Cantabrians, inspiring my last book, but also those events quelling other aspects of my creativity for many years. I am hoping a new piece of writing …the memoir that has been hovering in the background for many years will come to the fore and the writing will flow again soon.
What’s the best piece of advice about creativity that you’ve been given?
Margaret Mahy used to say to me “Remember once you have finished a piece of work and put it out there it is no longer in your control. It is no longer yours. Let it go-it is for those who receive it to react to it in their own way”
The baby is gone into the world.
Although I registered this intellectually-it was still incredibly difficult to let go and accept the reactions. Sometimes I could be on cloud 9 and other times devastated.
What’s the biggest misconception about the creative work that you do?
Perhaps the biggest misconception about any of the major creative work I have been involved with in my life is the time it takes to produce. It is hard for people who are not involved with the process of making theatre or film or writing books, to conceive of the time in hours, and the way these projects consume your life. This is also associated with misconceptions about how much your time is worth in money terms as most other forms of work are measured on an hourly rate.
Which Christchurch artist or artwork do you admire?
This is such a difficult answer to give as there are a few for me.
I suppose my ongoing admiration, even after her death, is for dear Margaret Mahy, for the joy she brings to so many lives, through her words and writing, both here in Christchurch and all around New Zealand and the world.
For me there is an additional admiration with her friendship and mentoring over so many years.
I also want to mention author Carl Nixon for his wonderful contributions through his writing.
What artwork or performance has taken your breath away?
The recent performance that I totally loved and felt inspired by in a way that I had not felt since I was in Europe listening to a concert in a Cathedral in a small town in Southern France in 2019,was a UC production called New Baroque Generation.
Especially what took my breath away was the piece Concerto Grosso composed by young composer and musician Rakuto Kuramo.
What a piece of pure magic. How clever that young man is and we all felt so fortunate to be sitting in the beautiful Great Hall at the Arts Centre listening to this world class event using our local musicians and including students of the University Music Department now housed at the Arts Centre.
What do you know now about creative work that you wished you’d known when you were younger?
I have thought about this question and cannot remember a time in my life where creativity was not a part of my everyday life so really this way of being has run alongside my living for all the years I can remember enriching and colouring my days both in my home and work lives.
What is the best kept secret in Ōtautahi?
Well for me, probably special places that not many people know about, but then if I share they won’t be secret anymore.