Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Monday, October 18, 2010
At the conclusion of week #2 at Lochmara, I can finally say, without hesitation, that I am beginning to feel quite comfortable here. Our first week almost broke me, where the stress of working lots of overtime while still trying to overcome jetlag made my body just say ‘no’. I was also a little disheartened in the first week that I was only working in the Café, with no mention or guidance on my actual position while here- Arts Coordinator. However, a week later I believe I have an accurate grasp on what that position actually entails. It took some detective work, as not one person really had a full picture of the arts at Lochmara, but I have talked to a lot of people and have come to some conclusions. Conclusion #1: I need to be entirely self-motivated and proactive in this. Done. Conclusion #2: I can pretty much do whatever I want, within reason, of course. Awesome.
The first person that I talked to about the arts here was Shayne, co-owner of the lodge. He is an artist-sculptor-builder-idea man, somewhat in the vein of my uncle Richard. Has great ideas, has started a lot of fantastic projects here, but is not necessarily the organizing type. His dreams have been adapted by various organization-minded people (Louise, his wife, as the main one) to create the Lochmara we have today. Of course, his ideas for the lodge are not something that everyone shares. Last year, the Arts Coordinator happened on her job by chance, was mostly thrown into it, and didn’t really have an affinity for art at all. Thus, Shayne hired an arts consultant out of Christchurch to help him sort out some ideas that he had. However, she wanted Lochmara to be something totally different, and in the end Shayne did not necessarily like the help she was providing. Like-mindedness shouldn’t be something to hire someone by, but sometimes you have to.
While Shayne provided me with vague information about the art on property and a loose structure of what my duties would entail this year, it was Allanah, our Marketing gal, who defined my purpose a little more clearly. Allanah had been managing all the art and artists over the off season (June-Sept). Though she mostly just knew about documentation and contracts with artists for our galleries and workshops, it was through conversations with her that actually drew out for me what I should be doing from day to day. Then a series of random appearances this weekend at the lodge cleared my fuzziness even more. Kim Gabara, one of the more prominent artists showing on site right now, is a retired metal and wood sculptor who lives in Picton and is anal to the perfect degree. Meaning: he wants to communicate, he wants things done well, and he is willing to help in any way possible. Just yesterday I was working in the Café and a woman came up to me and introduced herself. “Hey! I’m Kate”. Uhhh… hi Kate. Was I supposed to know her? I looked at her blankly and she said she is part of the Eco Artists Trust, a group of environmentalists that are also artists, started by Shayne and Louise three years ago that create environment-themed or inspired artwork and use a portion of the profits to benefit environmental causes. Kate also happened to be a wealth of information about the history of art at Lochmara, which I had not heard yet, and besides that- she is an artists’ rights consultant, mainly working in contracts or ‘agreements’.
Though I don’t know if I will ever see an end to the things that can be done with the arts here, I have developed something of a plan as to what I can do in the next months. First off, on property there is the main Gallery (called the Huia Gallery) and the Café as showing space. In the Café there is a small kind of separate section called the “Window Gallery” where artists can showcase their work. Really, this space does not strike me as any different, but that’s just me. There is also artwork outside (sculpture) and in the rooms, and jewelry and smaller pieces in reception. As all artwork on property is for sale, I will be handling art sales, and incoming artists and organizing shows in any and all gallery spaces.
We also have an Artist Residency (more info on the Lochmara website) which offers a 1-3 week residency to basically anyone that applies (I ruled out one girl already because her email was f-ing WEIRD). The resident artist is housed here for free, and has total reign over the whole property, shop, and studio during that time, and are offered a $100/week stipend. I am in charge of contact, selection, and coordination of all residents (so it would be sweet if people I knew were to apply!)- I am super excited about this, especially to have some really cool people on property.
The final aspect that I will be working on later in the season is coordinating artist workshops. Though Lochmara just provides itself as the venue for workshops, there remains an element of organization and communication that I must provide in order for them to actually happen. Artists that conduct workshops usually have their sh*t together and book everything for their students, but there is bound to be something that needs help from our end.
I am only supposed to be working about 15 hours a week doing art stuff, so right now I am focusing on getting everything on property labeled, having consignment agreements updated, and improving our communication about the arts on property. I would like to develop more interest in what we have here, as it is really cool, but I think guests are uninformed about most of it. I am also readily accepting artist-in-residence applications, hoping to get the next few months chock-full of artists!
In the meantime, we were able to get one more short trip into town, and I got a bank account. Hallelujah. I can get paid. Sometime I’ll have to explore Picton more seriously. Until then…
Greetings to all of those who thought we had fallen off the planet, or simply forgotten to contact you! We did not. To be honest, Ben probably did just forget, or decided otherwise. But I have pulled through! On our third day (fourth technically, more on that later) and 50th hour of work at Lochmara for this week (yes, you read that correctly) I can finally say that I have had a chance to take a breath. Sitting on the end of our boat dock I am delighting myself in sunshine and the sound of water lapping on shore, if only for the next hour. We must return to work for the dinner shift.
We arrived in New Zealand last Friday, landing in Wellington on the second shortest runway I have ever seen, next to the Lukla, Nepal airport on the Everest Trek. Wedged cozily between the hills and ocean, ocean, and more ocean, the runway was probably about a half mile long. We spent three days in Wellington, pretty much just sleeping in our posh hotel room (splurge) and eating foods of various ethnicities. NZers do asian food RIGHT.
Then on Monday morning we hopped the early ferry to Picton, a beautiful three hour ride across some of the world’s deadliest waters. We had gone to the “Wellington Museum of City and Sea” the day before and perhaps spent a little too much time lingering in the “ferry disasters” section. Nonetheless, we had clear skies over the Cook Strait and all was well! When we arrived in Picton, we realized that we had altogether TOO MUCH STUFF when we tried to haul a** from the ferry terminal to our water taxi. I know we are moving for a year, and we don’t really have that much at all, but trying to walk briskly for a quarter mile carrying 100+lbs of bags is hard, no matter how you do it.
At the taxi dock we met Shayne, husband of our Lochmara owner and manager, Louise. He drives the taxi and pretty much whatever else Louise tells him to do (his own words). We did not meet Louise until a bit later at the lodge, but she was just as warm and welcoming as Shayne, with the addition of a hearty hug. They have two daughters, 10-year-old-red-headed Meg, and another one that I haven’t met yet, but that Meg describes as “a TEENager” whilst rolling her eyes. Ha!
Upon arriving at the lodge, we noticed it was a little busy…alright, it was slightly busy, but FAR too busy to be handled by two people. Erica and John are the Front of House Manager and Chef, respectively, and had pretty much been working by themselves since the day they opened, two weeks ago. Neither had had a day off, and they had been working 13+ hours a day- so Ben and I jumped right in! Jumped at first, and then were asked to work all meals for the next three days, so that they could have a few days off. Though they are both still around (I mean, we don’t REALLY know what we are doing yet) to answer questions, but they at least get a little time to themselves. Luckily it hasn’t been too busy for the past two days, so we have been getting into it alright. Though I feel as though I have a bit more on my plate right now than I can chew, I am getting it (evidently Erica thought that I managed a restaurant before…. Er, no. I found this out yesterday and quickly corrected her. I have managed a Front Desk. And worked in a restaurant for 3 months. Kind of different.) I am a bit puzzled about being the Art Co-ordinator…as no one has told me anything about this yet, and that is supposed to be my primary job… but I am guessing help in the café/restaurant is more crucial right now. If they don’t talk to me about it in the next week, I’m going to demand some answers.
On the up side, I have effectively learned to make coffee! Yes, everyone in NZ drinks espresso drinks, and thus I have been thrown head first into Barista-ville. I think they are pretty good. I mean… pretty good as I have only been making them for three days. However, two hours after learning how to use the machine, foam the milk, the differences between the drinks, yadda yadda, this guy comes in and orders two Flat Whites (NZ thing) and 2 lattes. I make them as best I can. He comes in later to tell me that they tasted “just fine” and that he owns the coffee company! Thank the good lord I did not know that before making them.
Though we have not seen much of the grounds besides in the darkness, I can say this: we are living in one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. And I am pretty sure that is not because we just got here. We have had 5 bluebird days since arriving, so that probably helps, but imagine this: a Costa Rican rain forest where there are no snakes, no predators, on the ocean, where the temperature is between 60-70 and perfect humidity. Yes. That is it.
The lodge itself sits on a tiny bay in the Queen Charlotte Sound, and is built on a steep hillside. In addition to the café and 14 rooms, a winding network of trails takes you through the forest to different coves- a lizard rehabilitation center, a bird rehabilitation center, an art studio, a spa/bath house, a vegetable garden, a hammock ‘observatory’, and a glow worm (!) gully . All the while, each path and every nook and cranny of this place is filled with sculptures. Sculptures carved into trees, popping out of moss, blocking your path, and creating a sense of wonder pretty much everywhere you turn. Our cottage is just a 10 minute walk from the lodge, and sits just above the water. Though it is a bit of a hike up and down from the lodge, it is a nice workout, and at night (which is most of the free time we have had here so far) glow worms pop out of dark areas all along the path. Seriously, I had only seen those on Planet Earth, and they are just as nuts in real life. I heard today that when the algae blooms, it creates phosphorescence in the water. Whhhhhaaaaat?
Now I must head back to work. For all those curious about our communiqué while out here… we only get one free hour of internet per week… otherwise it is crazy expensive. So I think I may get a landline, or a cell number. I will find out more on our day off this week (Sunday) when we go into town and buy more food. Living on ramen noodles is just not enough right now!