Friday, July 17, 2009

Otane Goes Venetian

It feels as if the past week has been filled with masks and mask making. Last Saturday Glenys and Marie S arrived for a morning of playschool where we worked on our masks for the mid winter luncheon at Otane. I stupidly had decided to make mine from scratch but being too tired the evening before had been trying to form a papier mache mask on a plaster cast of my face. I had just finished gluing the third layer of paper on when the others arrived and ended up trying to dry it out with a blow drier, mostly at floor level so I didn't blow Gleny's glitter and feathers all over the room. Marie's beautiful feathery mask was ready made but she embellished it with small gold butterflies while Glenys got the hysterics trying to control the purple glitter of her mask from spreading everywhere. Too soon it was lunchtime and I had not even begun to decorate my mask. Later that day Peaches the cat sat down in some glitter I hadn't cleared up and was strutting around with bling adorning her hairy ginger backside.

Tuesday Glenys, Marie S, Marie N, Joan Reed and I travelled to Otane to decorate the rooms. The building was quite chilly and seemed to get colder for the two and a half hours we spent there. Marie N had spent so much time and energy crafting different Venetian masks to hang on the walls of our room while Joan had made cardboard fans spray painted either red or gold for the gardening room where we set up the tables for the buffet lunch. The walls there were drapped with material and shawls to complete the effect. Later that day Glenys rang to say she would be unable to attend the lunch as she had to go to a funeral so I would need to welcome the people attending etc.

Later that evening I strengthened the papier mache of my mask before gessoing and painting it dark purple. After that I spread PVA glue over the surface and dusted purple glitter over it. I was still working on it Wednesday morning holding it in the sunlight trying to get the glue dry to hold purple geese feathers in place at the top. When I tried it on I resembled a plucked chook or, as Glenys remarked when she saw a photo of me, like road runner!

For a while it seemed as if the few painters who turned up in all their finery would be the only ones attending the lunch but soon people from the other groups began to arrive giggling as they tried to work out who was who behind their masks. It was amazing to see the trouble some people had gone to. Finally at 12pm I welcomed everyone and introduced the President of the centre who convened a five minute general meeting to pass an ammendment to the constitution before we all filed into the garden room for lunch.

There was quite a feast laid on as everyone had brought a plate of food. During the hour everyone was eating and chatting I went around and got some wonderful shots of some of the masks. We then filed back into the art room where I introduced out guest speaker, Kevin Annand from Electra Gallery who talked about art and creativity and how it takes different forms for the next thirty minutes. He had also agreed to judge the best and scariest masks which were awarded prizes. After that it was time for our roll on raffle. Our group had donated sixteen prizes.Each time someone won a prize they drew the next ticket. Embarrassingly I won twice but the second time forfeited my turn so someone else had a chance.

Several of our group stayed on to clean up and restore the rooms to normality once everyone else had left. After all the work decorating the day before it only took a short time to dismantle them and the Venetian afternoon was over.

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