This week I received my first payment for three months of travel blogging I'm doing for an Irish company. I also received a cheque from a gallery that had sold a couple of my brooches, my first payment from them in a year. My electricity company will be very happy. In a recession the arts tend to suffer first as they're considered a luxury. Jobs are tougher to get, paintings are harder to sell. Therefore I thought it was very brave of Liala Ireland to ask to hire our art room at Otane this weekend to hold an exhibition of her pastel works. Yesterday after portrait class we cleared the room of all furniture, found hangers for the frames and put the boards up at the windows so that there would be more room for her works. This morning my friend Gay and I left at 9.30am to help Lea for the morning and arrived to find her in the midst of doing last minute tasks. She hadn't enough hangers for her works so I wandered around the Otane Arts Centre and nicked some from the other rooms so she could complete hanging. When someone remarked there was no signage I took one of the Centre's signs out by the road with a notice advertising Liala's exhibition. Gay took another out to State Highway 2 and put it on display. Despite radio and newspaper advertising by the time Gay and I left the centre no one had been through to look at the exhibition. It reminded me of my disastrous day at the Waipawa 150th Celebrations market six weeks ago. I hope that a crowd with plenty of money arrived after lunch and bought every picture.
Gay and I went down the road to McCauley's Cafe to have a drink and something to eat. Afterwards we went to the Central Hawkes Bay Settler's Museum to have a quick look at the Mary Bibby exhibition that was opening that afternoon. Mary Bibby came to NZ as a young woman, married, had several children, started the CWI in Waipawa, was active in the Church etc. but still found time to paint. Gay and I were allowed in to look at the exhibit before the official opening which was a bit fraught as we felt like two naughty children but it did mean we weren't trapped with a crowd. There was an interesting display of drawings and paintings of local landscapes and buildings plus a write up about her life including a moving account of her final day written by her son in whose arms she passed away overlooking Kairakau Beach.
I was a bit away with it when I saw a woman turn and smile at me. Got a surprise to see it was Joy Cowley who was launching her new book at the museum later that day. I rustled up some courage and told her that she'd written one of my favourite short stories. She smiled and asked which one and I told her it was "The Silk" and how it had actually made me cry. She seemed quite surprised and said she'd written it a long time ago but that just the day before a girl from Weta Workshop had rung her to say that she'd bought the rights to the story and was going to make a short film of it. I congratulated her and before I ended up turning into a complete pain wished her a happy stay in Hawkes Bay and left one happy literary groupie.