Regular Random: five minutes with Lt Col. Percival Fenwick (1870-1958)

Detail; model of Lt. Col. Percival Fenwick from Gallipoli: The scale of our war exhibition at Te Papa, Wellington, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Detail; model of Lt. Col. Percival Fenwick from Gallipoli: The scale of our war exhibition at Te Papa, Wellington, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

While in Wellington last week, I went to the exhibition Gallipoli: The scale of our war at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.

Created in partnership with Weta Workshop, the exhibition explores the WWI Gallipoli campaign through the lives and memories of eight individuals who served there. For each of the eight, a giant (2.4 times normal size) life-like model was created by Weta, showing them at a particular moment.

Lt. Colonel Percival Fenwick, who features in these photos, was a 45-year-old surgeon with the New Zealand Expeditionary Force. He was amongst the first New Zealanders to land at Gallipoli on April 25th, 1915 and remained there for two months until evacuated; sick and exhausted.

The Te Papa model shows Fenwick on May 4th 1915, leaning over Infantryman Jack Aitken of the Canterbury Infantry Regiment, in despair at not being able to save the man’s life.

Model of Lt Col Percival Fenwick. Te Papa. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Model of Lt Col Percival Fenwick. Te Papa. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Percival Fenwick survived WWI and returned to New Zealand where he continued to practice medicine. He died aged 88, in 1958.

This is a much more sombre subject than I usually post for the Five Minutes of Random (the RegularRandom challenge), but the exhibition was very moving and worthwhile.

Five Minutes of Random is a weekly photo challenge hosted by Desley Jane at Musings of a Frequently Flying Scientist.

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Culture, Heritage, and International Museum Day

Entrance, Te Papa Tongarewa -- Museum of New Zealand, Wellington, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2014

Te Papa Tongarewa — Museum of New Zealand, Wellington, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2014

Today is International Museum Day (IMD). Museums and art galleries have always been amongst my happy places — oases of culture, history and learning. Places to make discoveries, to connect with the past, and to dream.

The theme of this year’s IMD isMuseums and contested histories: Saying the unspeakable in museums.” According to the International Council of Museums:

This theme focuses on the role of museums that, by working to benefit society, become hubs for promoting peaceful relationships between people. It also highlights how the acceptance of a contested history is the first step in envisioning a shared future under the banner of reconciliation. Media release for launch of IMD: ICoM, May 18, 2017

Like most cultural institutions, museums have traditionally represented culture and heritage from a particular perspective — that of the society’s dominant groups. Women, ethnic and religious minorities, and members of various sub-cultures have tended to find our stories either absent, or told through a lens not our own.

Definitions of “culture” are themselves contested, and in fact I can remember a time in New Zealand when there was widespread popular debate about whether this country could be said to have “a culture” — and if so, of what it might consist.

In 1980, Kiwi band, The Knobz, released the song, Culture, in response to then Prime Minister Rob Muldoon’s assertion that pop music was not “culture.”

Thankfully, New Zealand, and the culture sector has moved on a bit.

I hope that this year’s Museum Appreciation Day theme will encourage both dialogue, and popular engagement with cultures, heritage and museums.

And ok: I’m trying to cover a few bases with this post:

Daily Post Photo Challenge | heritage

Sarah at Art Expedition‘s celebration of the National Appreciation Days that take place in May. Please visit to see her creative responses to these Days.

NZ Music Month

 

Playing with line and shadow

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Could it be more black and white? This sign at Te Papa Tongarewa, Museum of New Zealand repeats the words of a World War I recruiting poster.

Could it be more black and white? This sign at Te Papa Tongarewa, Museum of New Zealand repeats the words of a World War I recruiting poster. Photo: Su Leslie, 2014. Shot with iPhone4, colour-edited with Pixlr Express.

Amongst the visual arts, sculpture is one of my favourites. I also love the interface between two and three dimensional art. The piece above sits high above an exhibition space at Te Papa Museum of New Zealand in Wellington. The words are from a World War I recruiting poster. At the time, New Zealand was a British Dominion and was swift to follow Britain in declaring war on Germany and its allies. Almost ten percent of New Zealand’s population served in that war, and this tiny country of around one million souls suffered a casualty rate of 58 percent – amongst the highest of any nation in the conflict.

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Coiled wire sculpture fixed to a white wall. Photo: Su Leslie, 2014. Shot with iPhone4, colour-edited with Pixlr Express.

With some embarrassment I admit that when I took these shots, I didn’t note down the name of the artist, or the work – something I feel quite bad about as I know how important it is to acknowledge the creativity of artists.

I loved these two pieces; elaborate coils of wire attached to a white wall. As the light changed throughout the day, visitors experienced different patterns – and indeed different sculptures.

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Coiled wire sculpture fixed to a white wall. Photo: Su Leslie, 2014. Shot with iPhone4, colour-edited with Pixlr Express.

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Kerrie Poliness, ‘Black O’. Installation at the Dowse Art Museum in Lower Hutt. Photo: Su Leslie, 2013. Shot with iPhone4, colour-edited with Pixlr Express.

Kerrie Poliness is a Melbourne-based artist. This installation at the Dowse Art Museum, Lower Hutt, NZ consists of lines drawn directly onto the walls with black marker pen – creating the illusion of three-dimensionality.

This week at Lens and Pens by Sally, the challenge theme is black and white. You can join in here.

Warning: contains culture

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Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington. Photo: Su Leslie, 2014

Libraries, art galleries and museums are probably my favourites kinds of container. Within their walls I can experience histories, cultures and creativity. And actually, I would have to include books here too; containers of knowledge, stories, dreams.

Te Papa is New Zealand’s national museum and gallery. While I tend to the view that in trying to attract large numbers of visitors Te Papa has a tendency to “dumb down” this country’s complex and multi-faceted history and culture, I still visit the gallery, and appreciate the curatorial and conservation work that goes on behind the scenes.

“Containers” is the theme of this week’s Daily Post photo challenge.