Thursday, March 11, 2010

Afternoon Tea at the Hospice

Martha Simms with Dudley Cleland (painter of this picture)

It was an attractive opportunity- the once-only chance to see a collection of work by some of the Waikato's finest artists. But when it came time to get on my bike and on my way there, the real incentive to leave behind the thrilling, demanding, compelling, satisfying challenge of adding the 1500m contour onto my Antarctica, was the promise of my mother's superlative home baking.

South Pole (detail of just completed 2000m contour)

The event was the Waikato Society of Arts (WSA) tour of the brand spanking new, soon-to-be-opened community hospice filled with a fine collection of art donated by WSA members. As soon as the Hospice opens, the space becomes private of course, and even if you were dying, or visiting someone dying there, you'd never see the pictures in other people's rooms. So it really was a special once in a lifetime opportunity to see the all art and have a nosey around the hospice.

Mary de Lisle prints by a bed

The hospice is the fruit of many years of community fundraising, a converted motel in an excellent location (though hair-raising to access by bicycle- but I guess cyclists aren't assumed to be the primary users). It looks brand new and purpose-built: all contemporary design; light and airy and peaceful. I feel quite proud to live in a community that has created such a sensitive facility.

The WSA-donated art looks great. There's several pieces in each of the private rooms, and other works distributed through the lounges, halls, library etc. The curating is very sympathetic, and it made a nice change to see an art collection in a setting that bridges the public/private divide usually staked out between art galleries and homes.

Lola Badman's landscape in the Visitor's Lounge

My mother not only baked the delicious cookies for the afternoon tea to thank the WSA art-donors, but as President of the WSA she was the driving force for collecting the art for the Hospice. In many cases she visited artist's homes and delighted in the chance to see private collections of art produced over careers spanning many decades.

Studies have shown that abstract art is less calming for sick people, so the emphasis was on more realistic work for the Hospice. This could have turned out very naff, but didn't. As I looked through the rooms I imagined what it would be like to gaze at the pictures from my death bed, and liked that most of them offered windows into attractive and/or realistic landscapes. Other than the faces of my loved ones, I think I'd like the last thing ever I see to be a beautiful place.

I always get a small secret thrill when I see flower arrangements with miniature pineapples, as they are grown by friends of mine in the Far North.

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