Hand-washing verse

By Tim Jones

All the verse we have gathered to promote the 20 second hand-washing ritual. We began this within the Gallery, now it's online.

Bringing up the rear

Bringing up the rear

We finish our handwashing poems with R A K Mason's Song of Allegiance, read, as was the Keats sonnet that started this series, by me.

 

House Rules by Joanna Margaret Paul

House Rules by Joanna Margaret Paul

We are delighted to present Joanna Margaret Paul's House Rules, read by its creator's daughter Magdalena Harris. Dishwasher tension will, we are sure, be familiar to all.

The poet also created the painting you see, which is called Barrys Bay: Interior with Bed and Doll.

And although it's a day after Mother's Day, let's today salute all mothers and their efforts, especially over the last few weeks.

Hand-washing

Hand-washing

As we all know, one of the best ways to prevent the spread of Covid-19 is washing our hands. For the last week or so, our wonderful librarian Tim Jones supplied all the bathrooms at Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū with poems by New Zealand poets to make the recommended 2-minute handwashing sessions pass a little more bearably.

Now we are all working from home, we'll try to keep this going, starting with a reading of On First Looking into Chapman's Homer by John Keats, the poem behind Michael Parekowhai's sculpture. Tim himself is the reader.

Press play and start washing.

Running Water by Robyn Hyde

Running Water by Robyn Hyde

We don't want the poems to stop but dare we hope we are inching closer to re-opening? In the interests of playing it safe, let's keep washing our hands though, today with Visitor Host Dora Mullins and some exquisitely sad lines from Robin Hyde.

Cat in the Dark by Margaret Mahy

Cat in the Dark by Margaret Mahy

A beautiful poem today by Margaret Mahy, beautifully read by 10 year old Elsie Billington. 

A minute of pure handwashing pleasure.

A Calm Day by Basil Dowling

A Calm Day by Basil Dowling

Today our Graphic Designer Peter Bray reads about the sound of the ocean when the wind dies down. Only Basil Dowling puts it lot better than that in A Calm Day.

I saw her face by Robin Judkins

I saw her face by Robin Judkins

We've had lots of poetry responding to nature but poetry's other great theme has been absent. We put that right today with a love poem by Robin Judkins. A simple expression of love you might say, but listen right to the end and then say with confidence what happpens next.

That will take a minute so your hands will be sparkling. Today's reader is Visitor Host Tim Hobbs.

To a child dancing in the wind by W B Yeats

To a child dancing in the wind by W B Yeats

Today our Business Administrator Jackie Heavey reads a poem by a compatriot of hers, William Butler Yeats, in which the innocence of childhood is envied.

Yes you can now go to the beach, but keep your distance and, of course, keep washing those hands.

Wharf at Onekaka by Charles Brasch

Wharf at Onekaka by Charles Brasch

Today our Visitor Programmes Co-ordinator Gwynneth Porter reads a poem by Charles Brasch that was written directly in response to a painting in our collection. We can still only visit these places in our minds, but here are 22 seconds of soap and water delight to assist in doing that.

Île de la Cité by Charles Brasch

Île de la Cité by Charles Brasch

Paris seems further away than ever when all we see at present are the streets we can reach on foot. But with the help of two Charleses, Brasch and Meryon, we can perhaps fancy ourselves there again. Paris and its cathedral are no strangers to loss and suffering and we all hope for better times in the future.

Today our Education and Visitor Programmes Team Leader Lana Coles takes us to the banks of the Seine for just under a minute. Just long enough to...you know the drill.

Prepare by Ursula Bethell

Prepare by Ursula Bethell

Lead curator Felicity Milburn reads the poem Prepare by Ursula Bethell

The Moon by Robert Louis Stevenson

The Moon by Robert Louis Stevenson

Visitor Host Debeorah Hyde reads The Moon by Robert Louis Stevenson. The painting by Sir Alfred East was, Deborah reports, the first painting she saw when she began working at the Gallery back in 2003. Stevenson is of course not a New Zealand poet but he did come here briefly in 1890. The exertions of a morning's shopping in Auckland apparently rendered him prostrate for the rest of his stay here.

We heard yesterday that isolation requirements will be very slightly eased next week. But for now and, in the future, scrupulous hand-washing remains important. Think of the moon while washing yours.

A Phoenix in the Fowl Run by A R D Fairburn

A Phoenix in the Fowl Run by A R D Fairburn

While our Frances Hodgkins exhibition remains closed, let's hear Mary Kisler, its curator, reading a poem about one of the works that is in it.

First published as an occasional piece in Parson's Packet, the magazine published by Wellington bookseller Roy Parsons, it passes a savage commentary on the rejection of Pleasure Garden. It appeared in Fairburn's Collected Poems with this dry observation: 

The Art Gallery Committee of the Christchurch City Council rejected 'The Pleasure Garden', by Frances Hodgkins, on the advice of three experts. (It was later bought by public subscription and now hangs, without much civic honour, in the MacDougall Gallery.)

Well it now hangs in our gallery with considerable honour but with the lights off and no visitors to see it. We long for this to change and continued hand-washing will hasten that happening.

Whakataka te hau

Whakataka te hau

Usually on a Friday morning, our team would be enjoying some whanaungatanga at waiata practice. We’re missing seeing each other and singing together, so today's poem is the karakia Whakataka Te Hau, which doubles as one of our favourite waiata – a perfect way to start the day. Kia pai ō rā e te whanau.

Toroa by Hone Tuwhare

Toroa by Hone Tuwhare

Today's poem is a long one so your hands will be scrubbed as clean as they have ever been. We are extremely grateful to the poet's son Rob for identifying this poem as 'one of our faves!' Curator Nathan Pohio is the reader and he knows the royal albatross colony at Taiaroa Heads well: his mum used to be a guide there and still lives nearby. Take your time with this one - it's well worth it!

Grasses by Aileen Fisher

Grasses by Aileen Fisher

We leave Aotearoa New Zealand today with an American poet and an English painter, brought together just for fun. Grasses by Aileen Fisher (1906-2002) is read by Karin Bathgate who works as a Visitor Host here at the Gallery. 

We hope it makes you smile for the full 20 second hand-washing routine.

Home Thoughts by Denis Glover

Home Thoughts by Denis Glover

Today our former director Jenny Harper reads a poem that is the very essence of New Zealand, and specifically Canterbury, identity, and one we just could not leave out.

It's a decent length for hand-washing, but no harm in that. I could have selected half the works in our collection to accompany this one, but have gone for John Weeks's depiction of a bustling Cathedral Square. We very much look forward to experiencing such a scene again before too long.

The Polar Bear by John Summers

The Polar Bear by John Summers

Lily and Thomas Semple, whose Dad (Neil Semple) works with us - as did their Mum (Lara Strongman) until recently - read John Summers's poem The Polar Bear.

So this one is for all of you in lockdown with children. Children who perhaps like Billy in this poem will not go to bed when they should. 

For handwashing purposes it's over a minute long, so perhaps ideal for washing a whole load of little hands in turn.

There Is Only One Direction by James K Baxter

There Is Only One Direction by James K Baxter

Dr Peter Simpson reads James K Baxter's poem There Is Only One Direction. Baxter wrote this poem in response to Colin McCahon's painting of the same name, now in the collection of Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū.

The poem has been generously provided by the Hocken Collections - Uare Taoka o Hākena and is reproduced with kind permission of the family of James K. Baxter.

There is a Solemn Wind Tonight by Katherine Mansfield

There is a Solemn Wind Tonight by Katherine Mansfield

 Visitor Host Michael Purdie reads a favourite Katherine Mansfield poem. 

Matching a work from our collection for this gentle verse proved difficult. The wind in New Zealand is rarely solemn or gentle and whether coming from north, south or east, it's always vicious. This is reflected in our paintings which depict plenty of dramatic storms, but little that could be called gentle.

In any event we hope you enjoy washing your hands to both Katherine Mansfield and to Juliet Peter's Rising Wind. Rising into a hurricane force storm no doubt.

For a Child by Denis Glover

For a Child by Denis Glover

Sumner beach may be off limits at the moment but we hope this poem will stir some happy memories. It did for the reader, Rupert Glover, the poet's son, who says he 'grew up on Sumner beach.'

Five Little Piggies

Five Little Piggies

Violet Richards, daughter of our Registrar Gina Irish, recites This Little Piggy Went to Market.

Two hands, right? So play it twice, once for washing each hand.

In the Vast Emptiness by Basil Dowling

In the Vast Emptiness by Basil Dowling

Curator Peter Vangioni reads the poem In the Vast Emptiness by Basil Dowling. Back in 2015, when re-opening from our previous forced closure, Peter took this poem as the inspiration for an exhibtion of Canterbury landscapes.

From the hand-washing point of view, this is a two minute marathon, but where's the harm in that?

See all the images at once and find out more about each one.

what happens by Jenny Bornholdt

what happens by Jenny Bornholdt

A very special hand-washing treat

Girls in a factory by Denis Glover

Girls in a factory by Denis Glover

Kirsty Mathieson, our Administration and Business Support team leader reads 'Girls in a Factory' by Denis Glover.

It's perfectly timed at 21 seconds - just right for washing away those nasty viruses.

Dunedin by Edith Howes

Dunedin by Edith Howes

Today Gallery Director Blair Jackson, sometime resident of Dunedin, reads the poem Dunedin by Edith Howes.

That completes one week of lockdown, but hands still need washing thoroughly.

Olaf, a painting by Leo Bensemann

Olaf, a painting by Leo Bensemann

This poem by Denis Glover is a direct response to a painting now in the Gallery's collection. It is kindly read by his grand-daughter Pia Glover.

Keep scrubbing those hands.

Rain Rain

Rain Rain

Edward Ogle performs Rain Rain Go Away

I don't know about where you are, but in Christchurch today we really do have rain rain. This is a tricky one because we really need that rain, but I also need a walk round the block this afternoon!

This one is only 18 seconds long, but you'll be smiling for at least two extra seconds when it ends, so it will still work very nicely as a timer for your hand-washing .

 

Keep on washing

Keep on washing

Hand-washing remains the best thing we can do. Here's another poem against which to time your ablutions. Douglas MacDiarmid reads his own poem 'Daylight'. He wrote the poem and created the painting, Hills from Annat, in 1946.

On the conversion of daylight into distances infrequently travelled

On the conversion of daylight into distances infrequently travelled

Poet, critic and curator Greg O'Brien wrote this poem after happening upon Pip Culbert's Pup Tent while visiting the Gallery in 2016.

But there is more to it than that, because our own curator Peter Vangioni then hand-printed the poem and it was published in a limited edition by Kowhai Press. You can see pictures of this exquisite publication below.

Greg has kindly read the poem while we are closed and we add it to our growing collection of poems to wash your hands to - or just to listen to for pleasure.

A student flat in a Christchurch winter

A student flat in a Christchurch winter

Some more verse to support hand-washing. This poem, inspired by Philip Clairmont's Fireplace, was written and is read by Jane Simpson. From the collection Tuning Wordsworth's piano (Interactive Press, 2019)

Wharf at Onekaka by Charles Brasch

Wharf at Onekaka by Charles Brasch

Today our Visitor Programmes Co-ordinator Gwynneth Porter reads a poem by Charles Brasch that was written directly in response to a painting in our collection. We can still only visit these places in our minds, but here are 22 seconds of soap and water delight to assist in doing that.