Janet McAllister on the arts

Janet McAllister looks at the world of the arts and literature.

Janet McAllister: Quiz a chance to 'make a spectacle' of oneself

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New Zealand artist Michael Smither. Photo / Chris Skelton
New Zealand artist Michael Smither. Photo / Chris Skelton

"Well-known New Zealand rock artist (7,7)," read one of the crossword clues at last week's Eden Arts Trust quiz. The name of rock-tower sculptor Chris Booth didn't fit. Did they mean a rock'n'roll musician? "Michael Smither!" whispered artist Catherine Fookes, across the table. Aha! A painter of pictures of rocks. Very clever.

This annual arts quiz could be a glam industry event - participants include art writers, curators, gallerists, artists and my stylish mother - but the Balmoral Bowling Club venue and its resident cat always give it a down-home appeal. The cheese is free and the French bread bottomless. This year, MC (and Chartwell trustee) Sue Gardiner wore a joke glitter hat while her fellow MC, critic John Daly-Peoples, sported a whimsical Octavia Cook metal bow tie scattered with spider cut-outs.

The questions came thick and fast: Who wrote Fur Elise? (Beethoven). Who wrote The Cupid Mirror? (Ngaio Marsh). What is the middle name of Star Trek's James T.

Kirk? (Tiberias). This last was illustrated by a picture of William Shatner in tights and ballet slippers. "Google 'sexy James Kirk' and this is what you get!" Gardiner told us. Hmm. That's not what I got.

Who made the new kumara sculpture in Mt Eden village? "They wanna know who made 'the poo'!" yelled one wag. The work is admittedly one of Peter Lange's more esoteric brick concoctions. Really, though, in real life, it looks as much like birds as turds.

One question was about a different type of culture. "Botulism!" someone yelled in response to a question about Fonterra, and won a book of C. K. Stead poems.

Those of us not scared to make a fool of ourselves in front of Auckland's art glitterati were kept busy. Each team was told to create a pair of glasses from craft supplies, and then model them. Some of the extravagant creations were hot messes. Not ours: artist Cushla Donaldson did a small, quality, purist creation for our Paper Cupboard Gallery team, refusing sellotape or flowers in favour of soft drink can goggles, a carrot stick nose bridge and some olives. They didn't fit on my face for the parade so I wore them on my head.

A beautiful face-mask was announced as runner-up. "They cheated; you can see their sellotape," said Cushla. But we came first! You could have knocked me down with a pipe cleaner.

Meanwhile, I had accidentally "won" our team the right to compete in a hip-hop challenge, by calling out the year of the first rap single (1979, The Sugarhill Gang's Rapper's Delight - I thought it was for a spot prize.) My mother penned our "rap". Her enthusiasm was unnerving. We performed it as a group and came second out of three teams after the third team inexplicably defaulted.

I got an email the next day from one of the Eden Arts Trust organisers thanking me for "making a spectacle" of myself. It's a pun on the carrot-can eyewear, right? Right, guys?

- NZ Herald

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