I had the most wonderful day at The Festival at Pukeora yesterday. My mind is buzzing with images and ideas.
It was a freezing morning with a dusting of snow on the foothills right at the back of my cottage so I bundled up in two jerseys, a scarf and gloves. Martina and Gaye arrived just before 10am and we reached Pukeora in half an hour. We were surprised as it was already very crowded with two coachloads of grumpy old women and so many cars we had to park half up on the footpath down the hill from the buildings. It is many years since I went there and it still feels like an institution with it's warren of corridors.
Martina's neighbour Viv had brought Martina's two children along and together we went into the big hall to see the exhibition. My little donkey painting was hung alongside a dog one (copied from wrapping paper apparently but very professional) and I had a giggle listening to some of the comments. Donkeys seem to make people giggle or go "awww" for some reason. The standard of art was high and there were a couple of pictures I would loved to have taken home. In particular one of three mosaic pots with orange and yellow zinnias and Nola Weber of Taradale had two gorgeous oils of pansies and deep red roses which you could almost eat.
Funny comments: two Havelock North-type women (impeccably coiffured and expensively dressed) observing a huge painting of iceberg roses "Yes it's so wonderfully balanced"."Yes it is wonderfully balanced, and the frame matches too!" Then from across the hall another woman "Yes I DO like it but it won't go with my curtains!"
We spent an hour looking at all the work with Martina making some pithy comments when I happened to turn to look at my painting and saw a red dot on the ticket. It had sold in the first hour! I sat in shock in front of it and actually got a bit shaky when a lady came up behind me and asked if I was "the artist". She then told me she had been going to buy it, actually had her chequebook in her hand. Then Donna the art teacher who was manning the payment booth came and asked me to meet the buyer. He was a very nice middle-aged gentleman who apparently collects original art.
After that surprise we decided to get some lunch. We went to one cafe which was freezing, fought our way through the crowds to another one which the kids weren't happy about as it mainly had sweets not hot dishes, then back to the original cafe where the kids said they didn't like the food. After getting hopelessly lost in the many corridors filled with rooms belonging to the previous "residents" (first TB patients and then the unwanted disabled residents of Hawkes Bay) which were occupied by stalls we arrived outside and found the Potato Man. Gaye told me she was shouting me lunch and we both got vegetarian stuffed spuds, mine with ratatouille (no real rats involved). We then wended our way back through the crowds and sat at a sunny table in a porch overlooking the farmland down below.
After eating a little of their potatoes the kids stated they were full although they could manage something sweet if their mother would queue at the cafe and buy them something! Martina and I were steadily ploughing our way through the biggest potatoes Hawkes Bay had to offer and by the time we finished we couldn't face anything else. However Gaye joined the line for half an hour and a waitress returned with coffee for three and a hot chocolate for myself.
After lunch I lost everyone and found myself wandering down the corridors looking at beautiful ethnic skirts I couldn't afford. Then I came upon Waddle Inn's room by Kim Priest wasn't there, instead it was a lady called Esther who is a friend of Gaye's and Gina's. She managed to sell me 160 gms of beautiful mauve dyed alpaca to spin. I told her Kim sells my cards and jewellery and she suddenly realised who I was. Long story short she is coming out here to teach me to knit.
I finally found Gaye back at the exhibition hall when a familiar face passed by and said hi. I had met this lady at the Creative Fibre Festival last year. Turns out she is Yvonne Monk whom everyone has been telling me about since I moved here. She pulled out photos of her alpacas has invited me out to her farm for a visit.
We were just about to leave when a tall man walked up to me. Turned out to be Kevin Annan who runs Electra Gallery and also selected the work for the exhibition. He told me I did beautiful work and to send more into him and he would sell it in the gallery. By this stage I was a shivering wreck but couldn't believe how everything had worked out that day. The best part- sharing it all with my new friends.