Thursday, November 10, 2011

Art in Auckland

Recently I flew to New Zealand to visit friends and family and network with the NZ children's book industry. Below is a little sketch I did on the plane.

Auckland is my home town. This is where I first drove my car to uni, had my first date at the movies and made the friends I have for life. Whenever I go back, I like to visit some of my old haunts. I thought I'd share with you three of my favourite historic buildings in downtown Auckland.

The Civic Theatre. Built in 1929, when I was a kid it was a movie theatre and the queue would stretch up the hill and around the corner. I used to love looking at the twinkling stars on the blue night sky ceiling. After a complete restoration in 2000 it is now a live theatre venue. The inside is so beautiful it is heritage listed and people often miss part of a performance because they're too busy staring at the ceiling. It is internationally significant as the largest surviving atmospheric cinema in Australasia (and also one of the only seven of its style remaining in the world) in which lights and design were used to convey an impression of being seated in an outdoor auditorium at night.  

Top left of the photo is the Town Hall tower - where I graduated from uni many years ago.

Smith and Caughey's Department Store. A classic art deco purpose built store which has retained its character, charm, personal service and extensive range of quality goods. They've been in business since 1880, so they must be doing something right. It was about 1979 that I had my first 'application of make-up' lesson together with my besties in one of the rooms upstairs. We laughed so hard as we walked down Queen St later - none of us looked like our normal selves. 

This is the Auckland Art Gallery - Toi O Tamaki. Opened in 1888, it is New Zealand's oldest established and largest public art gallery. I used to walk past it every morning up the hill on the way to uni. And I always wished I could just stop and immerse myself in the art for the rest of the day.

So that's what I did on one of the days while I was visiting. Above is the new modern section and new front entrance of the Art Gallery which opened late this year. It joins the old building on the right and is just perfect!

Don't you love the vaulted wooden ceiling?

The floral installation above was a gift from the artist. Made from a type of parachute fabric, the petals open close on their own - just gorgeous and huge.

The interior of the old art gallery is breathtaking and beautifully restored.

A highlight of any visit are the many Goldies in the gallery's collection. Charles Goldie was a New Zealand painter well known for his portraits of Maori dignitaries.

Lunch with friends at the gallery. Life is good!

Even if it's raining outside.

A few days later I catch up for lunch with my cousin, Tania Sunde, who is also an Auckland artist. (It runs in the family). That's Tania below in the cafe which recently purchased her triptych in acrylics above the fireplace. It's just fabulous.

Friday, November 4, 2011

We are National Winners!

We won!!! 
We are the Eastern States Winner, open section!

My writers group, Prana Writers have been awarded ‘National Winner’ and 'Eastern States Winner' for our book, The Coral Sea Monster, in the open section of the Write-a-Book-in-a-Day 2011 challenge!!!
Woo Hoo, Yee Haa!
In a single day, between 8am and 8pm, our Prana Writers team planned, plotted, wrote, illustrated, printed and bound a 16,500 word children’s book - The Coral Sea Monster.

and... raised $940 in sponsorship for the Royal Children’s Hospital in Brisbane.
And we did all of this without a single meltdown!

The team that worked on the Coral Sea Monster were: Tom Betts, Rob Brown (my husband), Margaret Choinski, Rebecca Fraser, Janis Hanley, Kerry McGuicken, Helen Stubbs, Angela Sunde and Amanda Worlley  (We also acknowledge the assistance of my daughter, Daniela Sunde-Brown).

The Coral Sea Monster was illustrated by Angela Sunde (me)!

And here are the Write-a-Book-in-a-Day judge's comments:

“The Winner of the Open Section this year is the most beautifully illustrated as well as the best written story of the bunch: ‘The Coral Sea Monster’ by Prana Writers. 

"The team was given the challenge to include a podiatrist, a sheep shearer and a sea animal in their work, as well as to employ the setting of a motorway and the theme of love.
“The result is an amusing and engaging story of a 13 year-old sheep-whisperer, Jack, whose hopes of competing in the shearing event at the Ekka showgrounds are shot through when a truck overturns on the motorway into Brisbane, blocking the traffic in both directions. The truck in question is carrying a sea monster, of course, and Jack and his new found friend, a teen podiatrist (yes, there is such a girl!), set out on a fun-packed adventure to save the sea monster from the clutches of Lionel Measly, the greedy Ocean-World curator who hopes to make a million out of the endangered species.

“A competition like Book-in-a -Day challenges all of its competitors to take an imaginative leap, to work together against the ticking clock, to produce something extraordinary and new. ‘The Coral Sea Monster’ is a delightful example of the best kind of new work this competition is capable of producing." Judge (Open Section) - Julienne van Loon, (Vogel Award Winner 2004), Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at Curtin University of Technology, Perth, WA.

In the words of Prana Writer, Janis Hanley (more photos of the day are on her blog): “Words that come to mind are cohesive, talented, creative, in tune – but that really doesn’t come near to describing it. Being there was like arriving and plugging into some sort of communal brain. We didn’t just network our laptops - we somehow networked our minds.” 
See more photos of our day here

So... just who are Prana Writers you're wondering...

Prana Writers are dedicated to the craft of writing. By supporting each other and sharing our knowledge with others we hope to develop, learn, and celebrate together, whilst also contributing to the community. Our work spans a range of genres including speculative fiction, children’s, young adult, chic lit, contemporary drama, literary fiction, short stories and more. We meet five times a year for a full day of workshops, free writing and critiquing and in between for coffee, drinks or special events.

Originally brought together through the Gold Coast City Council’s Creative Juices program, Prana Writers hope that winning the WaBiaD National Award will help to promote the Gold Coast as a centre for creativity and culture. 
Prana Writers are: Tom Betts, Margaret Choinski, Rebecca Fraser, Bridget Gray, Janis Hanley, Kerry McGuicken, Helen StubbsDavid Stringer, Angela SundeNicola Tierney and Amanda Worlley. 

Find us on Facebook here.
And our blog.

I'd like to thank Louise Cusack, who is not only our mentor, but also a close friend and lifetime member of Prana Writers. Louise worked with the Prana Writers group from 2009-2010 through the Gold Coast Council's Creative Juices development program in 2009 and the support of a RADF grant in 2010.
I'd also like to thank the Gold Coast City Council for bringing Prana Writers together through the Creative Juices Write That Book program in 2009. Three years on and we are great friends and writing buddies. We appreciate your support!

Thank you to the Katherine Susannah Prichard Writers Centre and the Write-a-Book-in-a-Day team for the opportunity to raise funds ($940) for the Royal Children's Hospital in Brisbane. With a twelve hour time limit it was tough going at times, but we knew it was even tougher for the kids in the hospital, and that drove us on.
Thank you to my husband, Rob, for all the muffins on the day, for taking photos and blogging throughout the challenge, for cooking sausages at lunch, for his cool calm serenity under stress as he and Amanda loaded all the chapters, placed the illustrations, formatted the book and emailed it off. Whew! I'm glad it wasn't me.

Thank you to my Prana Writers buddies. This last year has been so enriching and so much fun. I'm very glad to be on this journey together with you.

And finally, congratulations to all the teams who entered Write-a-Book-in-a-Day. The real winners are the many children we have helped through raising funds for children's hospitals around Australia.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Shortlisted for the Write-a-Book-in-a-Day Awards

In August this year I posted about the Write-a-Book-in-a-Day challenge. Our children's book, The Coral Sea Monster, is a shortlisted entry in the open section, and my writers group, Prana Writers have been waiting eagerly for the official announcement. We won't have to wait much longer... the announcement is tonight.

The Write-a-Book-in-a-Day challenge is a wonderful, fun, team building and writing experience, open to people of all ages and offered by the Katherine Susannah Prichard Writers Centre, WA.

Teams register 5-10 people in the Open, Secondary or Primary category and get sponsors to donate to their local state's hospital for children. Each book is also donated to their chosen hospital.

On the day of our challenge, our team was emailed a random setting, two human characters, a non-human character, an issue and five random words at 8.00am local time. Then we had twelve hours to write a book and email it to KSPWC by 8.00pm the same day.

Unfortunately we won't be able to attend the awards ceremony at the Katherine Susannah Prichard Writers Centre in Perth, West Australia, but I am expecting an email as soon as it is announced.

So fingers crossed everyone! We worked very hard for this.