Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Transports Exceptionnels and Shapeshifter - Weekend Outdoor Culture

Sometimes going for a walk can be just a little dull, especially if you've been wherever you're going before. On the other hand, the weather has been so nice lately that its a bit of a pity to stay inside in order to be amused. So the fact that there's been some good entertainment in the great outdoors recently seems noteworthy.

On the last Saturday in February we went to see Transports Exceptionnels,which was a free event in Waitangi Park, part of the International Festival of the Arts. This event has been described as Dance with the Digger and it features two talented Frenchmen -one to dance and one to drive the digger- accompanied by Maria Callas singing Opera. The digger was sourced locally and was particularly shiny and splendid-looking

Philippe Priasso the dancer brought a cat burglar to mind, probably because of the combination of graceful movement and wearing black leather gloves. He hung from the digger bucket in every possible way, he posed on the digger arm, he ran in circles apparently pursued by the digger rotating and lay on the ground in its shadow. It was beautiful, daring and original, and the sun shone while the crowd sat on the grass in a circle and cheered and clapped.Top-notch entertainment and on the walk home we had local youth leaping into the harbour en masse as a bonus.

Last weekend we we went to Shapeshifter which is an outdoor sculpture exhibition that's also part of the Arts Festival. Not free, but the entry fee of $5 is completely reasonable. Most of the exhibition is in Lower Hutt's Civic Gardens and a few things are in the Dowse over the road. Civic Gardens (which we'd never visited before) is nice, with lots of big trees and a somewhat murky stream.

We had a programme which helpfully told us what each work was called and who had done it and how much it cost and then usually some art-speak about the artist's message and inspiration which seems pretty pretentious to a philistine like me but it added to the amusement we derived from the whole outing. The sculpture varied from the completely recognisable (a marble satchel) to quite abstract (twisted strip of metal) and it made for a pleasant stroll with interesting things to look at.

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