John Henry Menzies was a prolific carver. He carved the interiors of several houses at Menzies Bay including Rehutai, which is now sadly derelict but beautifully recorded in a photograph by Neil Pardington. John Henry also built and carved St Luke’s church at Little Akaloa. My brother, Tim Wraight, is an artist and carver and inherited his eye, skill and tools.
My grandfather, Bob Thorpe, spent much of his childhood at Menzies Bay, surviving one of the homestead’s fires. His youngest sister, my great aunt Dr Paddy Bassett, recalls living at Rehutai, being taught by a governess and sleeping out on the veranda, which is why she still sleeps with the window wide open.
Coincidentally, Olivia Spencer Bower was friends with Paddy. Olivia and Paddy’s late husband Collin were friends in their youth, and Olivia stayed with them in Hamilton. Paddy had not known she had painted Menzies Bay.
The painting has a Japanese painterly quality, a beauty in its pared back simple colour washes. The fine eucalypt trees on the solid landforms. The soft curves of the snow with a slight melancholy to the stripped landscape. The weight in the valley base, a hint of those deep-cut bays of Banks Peninsula. It is a beautiful watercolour of a place connected.
Joanna Margaret Paul's Barrys Bay: Interior With Bed And Doll
I never met Joanna Paul, but I believe that she and my late father, Michael King, were good friends. After my father died in 2004, I found a large diptych frame with a photo of Joanna on one side, and Irihapeti Ramsden on the other; both black and white and young and charismatic—two women he admired greatly who had both died in the preceding year. The frame was folded shut, on top of a bookcase in his study, as if in hiding. I took it down and set it open on his desk overlooking the estuary at Opoutere.
Tony Fomison's No!
I’ve chosen this because it’s probably Tony’s best-known painting (it’s the one that the Gallery chose to upsize onto an inner-city wall) and because it’s emblematic of his art, which was confrontational and definitely not user-friendly. In a long profile I wrote of him in the 1970s he said of his middle-class patrons: ‘I’ve got a bee in my bonnet about them. They’re the swine I rely on to buy my paintings. I hope these paintings fester on their walls and they have to take them down and put them behind the piano. I hope the paintings get up and chase them round the house.’
Don Binney’s Canterbury Garden Bird
I have chosen Don Binney’s Canterbury Garden Bird (1970) as my favourite painting in the Christchurch collection. This painting was a major work that my husband, Brian Muir, bought for the Robert McDougall Art Gallery when he was director in the 1970s. Don came down to Christchurch in an old Kombi van specifically to paint the work. The painting shows a very solid black bird in the foreground, a fantail, resting on large green leaves. In the background are the Cashmere hills.
Selwyn Toogood, Levin
I spent much of my adolescence in hospital, confined to bed due to a chronic illness. With a 14" TV beside me, I’d travel to imaginary places via the controller of my Nintendo games console. At the time, I couldn’t imagine walking to the letterbox, let alone experiencing the more exotic places of the world.