MIKE:

The Awards Ceremony of the Pattillo Whanganui Arts Review took place last Friday evening in the War Memorial Hall.

The Pioneer Room, venue for the 2018 event, had proved too small, with many people having to stand during proceedings. For a function such as this, a comfortable seat is essential, so it was decided to move the ceremony into the main hall. It was definitely the correct decision. The hall had been divided into two areas, using partitions, with a gap between them for easy access and flow. The area close to the stage had sufficient chairs to seat the large number who attended, the other, near the entrance, was set out with tables of food and drink. It worked beautifully. It was possible to worm a way through to the tables without resorting to the use of belligerent elbows, yet it still produced a feeling of warmth and intimacy.

Anne Pattillo's generous sponsorship of the awards has been enhanced this year by raising the sum received by the winning artist to $5000. In addition, for the next five years, the pattillo Project will be instigated, whereby the winner will be mentored by the Sarjeant staff for a year, leading up to a solo exhibition in 2020. Whanganui should be grateful for such generosity.

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The task of judging the works fell to Andrew Clifford, director of Te Uru Gallery (formerly Lopdell House), in Titirangi. Of the 11 pieces he selected, the names of the winners of the eight merit awards, along with their sponsors, will by now have appeared in the Chronicle and on the Sarjeant website, making it pointless to list them all here. I would, however, like to mention the three major prizes. Two excellence awards, to the value of $1000 each, were offered by Dalgleish Architects and Central City Pharmacy. Winner of the former was Rick Rudd with Teapot, yet another extraordinary example of the esoteric constructions for which he is deservedly well known. The second went to Glen Hayward for Fountain Solomon Guggenheim New York 2017, a delicate, gold drinking fountain, seemingly of metal, but, in reality, crafted from wood, paint and resin. The open award was a repeat performance for last year's winner, Kathryn Wightman. After producing that stunning glass carpet, Kathryn followed up her success by creating Austin, a bust of her son, created on a 3D printer.
It was an exceptional evening, celebrating both the skills of the numerous artists of our city and the philanthropy of the sponsors, especially Anne Pattillo.

JOAN: Perfect weather added to the pleasure shared by the vast crowd who wended their way around Hospice Whanganui's first Twilight Gala. It was an excellent idea to change the timing of the event. The sun still shone on the beautiful gardens but it wasn't too hot and there wasn't a breath of wind.We arrived early as we only had to walk there but it was great to see Virginia Rd lined with cars as so many families came along.

It was obvious that a huge amount of thought, work and time had gone into the preparation. I especially liked the fact that the word "Twilight" — such a pretty word — linked many aspects of the gala from the attractive badges worn by the many volunteers to the labels on the jars of home-made produce. There was a vast array of excellent donated goods to purchase and people wandered back down the path to their cars, looking extremely satisfied with what they had found. It was good to see so many folk meet and greet friends and there was an exuberance about the affair.

The evening shared a dual purpose. For most there this was their first visit to a place about which they might have a feeling of trepidation, whereas others remember the understanding and love they will have received from the staff when a loved one was in their care.

I say to people many times that Hospice is a most wonderful place, full of deep affection, instinctive kindness, joy and laughter. I have had the privilege of being a volunteer there now and again over the years, and any visit to Hospice has the unique ability to communicate the feeling of calm, reassurance and the celebration of life. The large turnout for the gala recognised, certainly, that Whanganui holds its Hospice in its heart.

MIKE: Last week I was obliged to cut short my story on the recent bird sale due to lack of space, so I'll finish it now. When I was admiring four canaries, two bright orange, two a russet-cum-bronze shade, a knowledgeable lady explained that they were called "Red Factors", from a gene they possess. If colouring is added to their food or water, it permeates their feathers, resulting in a colour mutation. When the birds moult, they revert to their usual yellow, like those which don't have the gene. Fascinating! My two particular highlights, however, were a lovely male galah, under three years old, and a young canary, on sale for $20, a card on its cage stating "Just starting to sing". What a bargain!

One of the movers and shakers at the Bird Society is Andy Constable, my boss at the Virginia Lake aviary. On Saturday he was delighted to have such a large turnout. His one complaint?
He said he could hardly close his wallet as so many people were thrusting notes at him! Constantly besieged by inquiring buyers, he took time to explain patiently to each one the specifics for their purchases — seed, food supplements, fruits, veges, cage requirements, protection against predators, ad infinitum. Andy is a gentle, quietly spoken person, with a wicked sense of humour and a genuine love of birds. Talking once about an injured bird, someone had said to Andy, "Well, it's only a sparrow!" As Andy said to me, "But the bird doesn't know it's only a sparrow, does it?" I'll be back for next year's show, Andy!

JOAN: Today is, I believe, Mark Dawson's last day at the Chronicle. I regret this, and wish to pay homage to him. He has been a fine editor. I always had confidence in his decisions. He served the city well and honestly. He moves to Base Hospital to become communications director. I wish him well and look forward to his writings. Could he, perhaps, be invited to do the odd editorial for us, do you think?
Comments and suggestions to mjstreet@xtra.co.nz