Archive for July, 2012

Unlike four years ago for the Beijing Olympics, a couple of nights ago I got to watch the London Opening Ceremony. One of the highlights was the Parade of Nations and it was really fun watching representatives from each country enter the stadium for the first time.

The teams enter the stadium in alphabetical order with Greece (home of the Olympics) at the front and Great Britain (host nation) coming in last. It’s so interesting to see how each team represents itself as far as uniform goes. There’s so much variety but I’m going to say right now that the delegation from Burundi was definitely my fave, so beautiful!

I really like the idea of uniforms inspired by your country’s flag – what could be more patriotic! But you’ve got to have a suitable flag. I don’t think a uniform inspired by the U.S. flag, for example, could be overly literal (that’d be a lot of stars and stripes!). Same goes for NZ really and we usually wear our black and fern anyway – if we wore uniforms inspired by our official flag we’d look like Australians!

Two teams who wore great uniforms inspired by their flag were South Africa and Trinidad and Tobago.

I also really enjoy seeing the native or national dress of different countries, especially when the athletes themselves look really excited and overjoyed to be wearing them. Some of my favourites in this year’s ceremony were

The Cook Islands:




In some delegations the women really shone with beautiful dresses that were really stunning. As I mentioned, I loved the Burundian women’s flowing dresses and other standouts were the sole female competitor from Oman, 100m sprinter Al-Habsi Shinoona Salah in an amazing blue and gold outfit, and the Qatari women including their flagbearer, rifle shooter Al-Hamad Bahiya Mansour.

Other countries chose to have their flagbearer in special garb. Some of these were really impressive, including




The prize for the team with the best sense of humour would have to go to the Czech Republic, who came ready for the notorious English summer with gumboots and brollies.

Many of the countries’ uniforms were really forgettable. Some were plain ugly. The uniforms that I disliked the most were not the Paraguayans with their plunge-necked mini dresses and yankee big band/gondolier uniforms. Not even one of the boring beige brigades. No, the worst by far were the German team’s, whose designer obviously was brought up in a household with very strictly defined gender roles. Girls = Pink, Boys = Blue.

It looks like they’re going to a baby shower for twins. (Or, as I’ve read on a few different webpages, like they’re in a tampon commercial)

But hey. I’m sure some people think that having an almost all black uniform is really dull. While those of us from The Land of the Long White Cloud feel a quickening of the pulse and a lump in our throat when we see our Olympians in their silver ferns (and the Southern Cross on the shoulder is really nice, too).

I will say that our athletes do look a lot more casual than most of the teams, which while very kiwi, is also perhaps a bit of a shame. (Although they do look like the team most ready to play sport!) Our team does have a more formal uniform that was unveiled before the Games and which athletes Nick Willis, Alexis Pritchard and Richard Patterson wore when they met the Queen yesterday.

Maybe it’s a good thing our team didn’t wear them to the opening ceremony, though. They do look a bit like Air New Zealand cabin crew.

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For the first time I got to sit down and watch the Olympic opening ceremony. It was choreographed by Danny Boyle. Here’s what I thought.

The Best Bits:

The portrayal of idyllic pastoral England. It’s nice to know their ideal view of themselves is so similar to my ideal view of their country. It gives me hope that one day if I can travel there perhaps I’ll find glimpses of it.

The industrial revolution. I thought it was interesting the way they portrayed this part of their history; it was really incredible watching the black dirt and machinery take over the countryside, the green disappearing before your eyes.  They didn’t try to sugarcoat it too much, although the multicultural aspect was an insight into how it might have been rather than reality.

Physically, it was the most incredible scene change ever! Watching the chimneys rise was really cool. And it was clever the way they showed that the revolution was driven by a small, wealthy part of society at the expensive of the lower classes who did all the work.

One of my favourite bits was the iron smelter and the forging of the fifth ring. As a spectacle it was just so impressive and astonishing.

As it rose it still looked like red-hot, newly forged metal. Cool! And when it joined the other four rings and they rained sparks: iconic!

Use of English literature and literary figures. Kenneth Branagh dressed as Abe Lincoln (kidding!) is all good, but Voldemort and the Child Catcher stole the show. I fell in love with books and reading as a kid and so many of the books I read were British (even though I may not have realised at the time).

The illuminated beds of the children looked great and the towering, billowing Voldemort was terrifying; his wand shooting out magic was an inspired touch. The Mary Poppinses did really well – very composed on their high wires.

Inclusion of various social movements in British history. Including new immigrants and the suffragettes with their signs and sashes.

Rowan Atkinson as Mr. Bean. A really clever piece with him and the Symphony Orchestra.

The volunteers! They did so well being coordinated and in character the whole time. In particular the drummers who keep it up for the whole Parade of Nations. Legends!

The Olympic Cauldron. Made up of 204 petals which formed a flaming flower, part of the delight of the spectators, I’m sure, was relief at finally understanding what those bronze conch-shaped things were that entered with each country.

Having the cauldron lit as individual flames representing each country by a group of young athletes was a cool idea. Watching the petals rise into the Olympic Cauldron was really clever.

Other cool things included the children’s signing choir for the deaf (although since they didn’t show them that much I’m not totally sure how efficient their signing was) and be-suited David Beckham in the speedboat (although the beautiful  young torchbearer in the bow kind of stole the show).

Overall the practically seamless choreography of the whole thing was really impressive. The way each vignette was obviously planned and storyboarded, the characters and camera angles each cinematologically deliberate.

But my very favourite part – can you guess? Clue: I love trees, sunshine, rolling hills and long grass. The grassy hill, criss-crossed by paths and covered in long waving grasses with little flowers, lit up by yellow lights so as people walked across it the close-ups looked like they were walking through a sunlit field. Really beautiful.

A CNN guide to the ceremony suggests the hill is reminiscent of Glastonbury Tor, a hill with associations with King Arthur, Avalon, and Jesus. Watching each person walk up the hill I was quite jealous – it looks like such a fun place to play! The tree atop the hill reminds me of a famous scene from Winnie-the-Pooh. Or maybe the Party Tree?



And then there were

The Weird Bits:

The giant baby. I missed the part where its relevance was shown. It looked like a huge bluish baby corpse with gashes in its head and a strange, rippling ghost body.

Zombie apocalypse? The whole industrial revolution thing was really well done, not just in terms of the scenery but with the happy, clean, carefree people gamboling about being replaced with dirty, downtrodden workers toiling away. But the fact that they came out from a dark misty cave beneath the hilltop tree and kind of staggered down to take over the landscape did make it look like a nineteenth century zombie apocalypse.

Mixed messages. I thought it was a nice touch having the “VIP” flagbearers carrying the official Olympic flag. Wearing white, presumably for peace and purity and whatnot, the bearers included “Angel of Mostar” Sally Becker, environmentalist Marina Silva, Nobel Peace Prize winner Leymah Gbowee and the director of ‘Liberty’ (a British civil liberties advocacy organisation), Shami Chakrabarti. These leaders of peace and unity then handed the Olympic flag over to uniformed military representatives of the British navy, army and air force. Incongruous, I think is the right word.

Her Majesty is not amused. Tipped to be the next internet meme, having celebrated her Diamond Jubilee this year Queen Elizabeth II seems to feel that after 60 years she doesn’t need to pretend to be amused anymore. Fair enough. But maybe just crack a smile?

Democracy – apparently it doesn’t mean what I think it means. I was a bit confused when North Korea entered in the Parade of Nations and their official name was “Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea”. Democratic? Really?


No Tolkien. It was great how they used the work Shakespeare, J.M. Barrie and J.K. Rowling in the ceremony, but where was J.R.R. Tolkien? The answer is: everywhere. The whole theme of the industrial revolution was so important to Tolkien and so informed his work that the first part of the opening ceremony was pretty much a retelling of one of his most famous books (including the forging of the ring :p). I’m surprised that they didn’t mention him overtly at all, even if they (presumably) couldn’t put in a Tower of Barad-dûr behind Voldemort and the Child Catcher for copyright reasons.


But even more than these, the bit I found the weirdest was those crazy national signs carried by the women in face dresses. As reader “CrossWC” wrote on the Washington Post site,

They look like they are suffering from some horrific neck injury and are wearing some sort of diabolical Halo neck brace device.

It’s so true! What’s up with that? Why can’t they just carry the names on a single pole? Those weird metal apparatuses are so distracting! And weird. Weird shoes, weird dresses, weird signs. But lovely smiles 😀


Despite this I did enjoy watching the Parade of Nations – more on that later…

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I recently learned about an artist who uses unique techniques and processes to create beautiful artworks. Tim Knowles is a UK artist who uses natural phenomenon like wind and terrain to create sketches and media installations.

“Tree Drawing – Hawthorn on Easel” by Tim Knowles

Myself, I have always been inspired by the idea of contact and touching; touching an item or standing in a place that someone else had touched or stood – I feel like that can give a powerful connection through time and space. It’s why I took the in-progress pieces of my Rainbow Warrior quilt to the Rainbow Warrior memorial in Matauri Bay and her masts in Dargaville. To know that my quilt – inspired by that ship, her crew and what she represents – has actually touched parts of the ship herself, has been out in the sunshine, sea air and
waving grass, makes the quilt all the more special to me. It feels imbued with the spirit of those places.

Largely through my studies at university the idea of agency has really taken hold inside me, as well. In humanities we use “agency” to describe the ability to act (independently), and you could say, to exert power; it’s the opposite of inert passivity. In particular the realisation that human animals are not the only ones who have agency really changed the way I think about many things. Nonhuman animals obviously (to me) have agency; a bird may choose
where to fly, what to eat, when to return home, how to react to situations she encounters. But it was also a realisation to me to think about the agency of other living things on the planet, like trees. A trees responds to the sun, to water and some have even been shown to “communicate” and share information about predators, etc.

The work of Tim Knowles’ that I have read about online really taps into this part of me that is aware of the world outside human control. (This is not to say that we cannot control it – we can and do. But when left alone, many other beings in the world are allowed to exert their own agency). Tim’s past works have included his “Windwalks”, drawings made by attaching a sail/windvane-like apparatus to his head and going for walks through early-morning London directed only by the changing winds and breezes. Afterwards GPS tracking was used to plot these journeys as prints that Colby Chamberlain describes as “a Surrealist experiment in automatic drawing”.

Tim Knowles’ “Windwalks – Five Walks From Charing Cross”

I really like the way Gabrielle Hoad describes Tim’s unique approach to his art

In the past, Tim Knowles has been a hands-off artist, setting in motion unpredictable mark-making processes. He’s allowed everything from helium balloons and trees to postal packages and cars to drawn their own movements: “making the invisible visible” as he puts it. There’s much to be said for John Cage’s view that the world is more fascinating when we let it be itself.

On Tim’s website there are images from many of his exhibitions, all with mysterious and exciting names like “Full Moon Reflections” (photographs of reflections of the full moon on different bodies of non-still water), “Windwalks” (prints delineating wind-directed walks as described above) and “Nightwalks” (photographs taken with a very long exposure as the artist walks away from the camera through the landscape carrying powerful torches which illuminate his path). What amazing ways of encountering the world and, in case of the walks, of portraying an individual’s attempt to literally make one’s way.

I found each of these ideas really exciting but the works which really drew me to Tim as an artist were his Tree Drawings – drawings not of trees, but by trees. In Cabinet magazine, Tim explains his execution of the prints:

I attach artists’ sketching pens to their branches and then place sheets of paper in such a way that the trees’ natural motions—as well as their moments of stillness—are recorded. Like signatures, each drawing reveals something about the different qualities and characteristics of the various trees as they sway in the breeze: the relaxed, fluid line of an oak; the delicate, tentative touch of a larch; a hawthorn’s stiff, slightly neurotic scratches.

I love the appreciation Tim has of the characteristics of each different tree. This appreciation really comes through in how the reality of their unique individuality is present in each artwork. Although Tim Knowles is the artist his role here is as a fascilitator for the expression of the wind and the branches.

I’ve never been to a Tim Knowles exhibition but I’ve seen online that each piece is presented as a “diptych” (a fancy way of saying two pieces of artwork together), the drawing itself together with a photograph of it being created. He even used a video of the work being created in one of his exhibitions, projected onto the wall next to the print itself. There’s a great video from MassArt (Massachusetts College of Art and Design) which has Tim Knowles talking about both the process of creating the Tree Drawings and the method of exhibition – watch it on YouTube. In the same article as above, Tim states

Process is key to my work, so each Tree Drawing is accompanied by a photograph or video documenting the location and manner of its creation.

I really think this is inspired. For me it presents two ways of seeing a single moment in time and forms a connection between different ways of experiencing. The author of a Saatchi Gallery online editorial sees in Tim’s Tree Drawings the accomplishment of a long-held goal in English artistic tradition. Of Tree Drawing – Scots Pine, Buttermere Shore #1 (2005), it notes

Given its Cumbrian context, the unforced lyricism of Knowles’s approach stands in ironic historical juxtaposition to the plein-air labours of English landscape painters, who for centuries have strived to capture the agitation of a swaying tree. Knowles achieves their long-held ambition by the simple fact of enabling the tree to record its own unrest.

The idea of “enabling” a tree is a beautiful one. I really adore the resulting works Tim has created. While these are my favourite of his pieces so far, it is fascinating to read about the ways in which he has created many other works with the use of all sorts of natural and human-made phenomena. I urge you to visit Tim’s site and look through his various artworks. For me the image of a tree drawing on an easel in particular is a very powerful one.

And if I ever get the chance to visit an exhibition of his, I shall jump at it.

“Oak on Easel #1” by Tim Knowles

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Mobile telephone network ‘2degrees’ launched in New Zealand three years ago with kiwi comedian Rhys Darby as the face of the brand. It was probably the best decision they could have made. In 2012 his ads are still going strong and still hilarious.

Lots of people know Rhys from his role in the Flight of the Conchords’ series on HBO. Like in his stand-up, FotC character Murray Hewitt uses a great high-pitched New Zealand accent as he makes jokes about kiwis and the NZ way of life. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it – and Rhys sticks to his winning formula in the ads for 2degrees, which feature him as an hilariously oddball (yet somehow “everyman”) kiwi bloke. Like Murray, his 2degrees persona is wacky, lovable and clueless.

2degrees wants to keep New Zealand talking, so get off your MyFace and FriendBook pages, stop twatter-bleeping, and have a good old-fashioned chinwag. For free!

The ads featuring Rhys show him in a various of NZ situations but always with a (totally mental) twist. Even the animated ads for mobile plans for which Rhys provides the voice-over typically take a turn for the ridiculous. Like the “Pay Monthly” ad featuring small business owners Ben and Bernie, which ends with 2degrees customer Ben throwing a staff party and Bernie running off to join the French foreign legion.

C’mon, Bernie – five years and you’ll get a beret. Sacrebleu!

I really like the Christmas ads each year (though the one with the detachable arms was pretty weird), especially the one featuring Rhys in his knitted jumper with a kiwi on his lap and his pronunciation of “the original name for NZ” in the language of the native wood pigeon.

Like an old lady’s slipper – with a beak

My favourite ad to date has to be the one with the joke about Cambridge. It just highlights the fact that we’re laughing at ourselves – but really we still know we’re the best in the world :p

With 2degrees you can stay close to your mates for only 44c a minute. Whether they’re in Cambridge England, Cambridge Australia, or actual Cambridge, here in New Zealand.

I was reminded once again of Rhys’ genius when I went to see The Dark Knight Rises and the pre-show “cellphones off” message came courtesy of 2degrees.

Aaaah… you’re at the movies. It’s time to relax. Imagine you’re a bear, hibernating in a cosy cave. You’ve slowed your heart rate down to one beat per year. Every year you sleep you get older, but you look younger. Because you’re a wise young bear who’s moisturised long before you’ve needed to.


…just, what?? Love, love, love. And to top it all off, a reference to every kiwi kid’s fave movie lollies:

Alright, wake up now, bear! You’ve dropped your Tangy Fruits pottle!

Oh Rhys, how you made me yearn for a plastic pottle of Tangy Fruits!

If you’d like to watch some of Rhys’ ads for 2degrees you can find them on their YouTube channel.

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I almost didn’t rent this movie because it’s got Seth Rogen in it. No offense to him, it’s just that his type of movies aren’t usually my type of movies. When I saw him on the cover, despite the glorious presence of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, I worried it might be one of those druggie/party movies that every seems to love (but me)

50/50 is about Adam, a radio writer whose girlfriend Rachel stays with him most nights. He also likes hanging out with his best friend Kyle who often gives him a ride to work since Adam can’t drive. I like Adam ‘cos he’s quite quiet and chilled out and like me he doesn’t smoke, drink or drive.

One day he goes to the doctor about a recurring backache and the doctor tells him he’s got schwannoma neurofibrosarcoma. Adam’s reaction is just what you’d expect “So sorry… I don’t know what that is”. The doctor tells him it’s cancer, and after that Adam doesn’t hear anything else he says.

That doesn’t make any sense, though. I don’t smoke. I don’t drink. …I recycle…

The impersonal, impassionate way the doctor delivers the news is so abrupt. He’s really uncomfortable when he thinks he detects Adam’s emotional reaction and quickly tells him about the hospital’s counselling services, which Adam eventually makes use of in the form of cute young psychiatry student,
Katherine. The rest of the film follows his live in the aftermath of his “50/50” diagnosis.

This film does a great job of showing how cancer affects not only the patient but also the other people in his or her life and the unexpected star of the show – yup, I’m gunna say it: Seth Rogen. Joseph totally deserved his Oscar nomination for this – he was crazy-awesome – but watching someone as they’re
diagnosed with a serious form of cancer and undergo treatment is really intense and kind of exhausting. Kyle’s irreverent humour is the perfect foil for the dark hopelessness of what Adam’s experiencing. He’s a really good friend. He drives Adam to his hospital appointments but he also persuades him to use his cancer to pick up chicks. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: there aren’t enough positive male  relationships in movies, but I think this is one.

This film is definitely one of my top two cancer movies of all time. That’s right, it’s right up there with Wit.

The back of the DVD case (which I didn’t read ’til after the movie, thank goodness) calls the film a “laugh-out-loud comedy” and both its Oscar nominations (best movie and best actor) were in the ‘Comedy or Musical’ category. That’s messed up. I mean, sure, I LOLed. But I don’t think that makes it a comedy. I also cried. I think it’s more of a “drama”, myself. But what do I know? I haven’t had cancer.

If you think this sounds like your kinda movie, I highly recommend getting it on your next trip to the DVD rental store. But I do not recommend reading the back of the DVD case, it totally gives away the ending.

Director: Jonathan Levine
Writer: Will Reiser
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, Anna Kendrick

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At the beginning of this month there was a really interesting incident in NZ-US relations in Hawaii.

NZ Navy frigate Te Kaha and tanker Endeavour

In light of the June 19 Washington Declaration signed by the two countries and the first significant joint training exercises between the United States and New Zealand military in decades, New Zealand was invited to join RIMPAC, (Rim of the Pacific exercise, the largest maritime warfare exercise in the world) for the first time in 28 years. However on arrival in Honolulu the NZ ships, Te Kaha and Endeavour, were the only ships not allowed to enter the military port of Pearl Harbour and instead had to dock at the nearby commercial port. The reason for this is NZ’s anti-nuclear stance, in that the U.S. doesn’t like it.

The Riverman has a really good post explaining the history of this disagreement.

In 1985*, citing its nuclear-free policy, New Zealand denied port access to the American destroyer Buchanan because the Navy would neither confirm nor deny that the ship was nuclear armed.

In response, the US banned all NZ military vessels from its ports and “ended most bilateral activites”. So the US doesn’t respect NZ’s anti-nuclear policies and basically threw its toys. Now, almost three decades later the Japanese who directly attacked Pearl Harbour in the Second World War and the Russians, also enemies of the US during the Cold War, are welcomed into Pearl Harbour. The Kiwis, allies of the US in two World Wars, having served in the US’s war in Afghanistan, currently taking a “how high?” attitude in regard to the (NZ resident) Kim Dotcom case and continually striving for ever-closer trade agreements with the US, are banned.


Like a slightly incredulous article on Celsias points out, apparently worse than bombing and attacking them, the US cannot forgive a country who holds a different opinion to theirs on nuclear weapons.

apparently it takes a lot more than that to ever make up for expressing your own views in the foreign policy area on nuclear weapons.

Although according to Riverman, altogether 22 nations, six submarines, more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel are taking part in RIMPAC 2012, New Zealand is the only country not allowed to dock in Pearl Harbour. As Riverman puts it, it is

A case of the Kiwis having their meals in the kitchen, not out in the dining room with the Ruskies and others.

NZ warships near Aloha Towers, in the tourist part of the port of Honolulu

True, apparently US military ships aren’t allowed to enter NZ ports either, but this is because they refuse to say whether or not they carry nuclear weapons, which is against our “policy” (read beliefs, ethics) as a nation. A One News article reports Defense Minister Jonathan Coleman as saying

New Zealand was not prepared to change its policy and so had not expected the US to change its policy.

I think that’s really big of NZ, because I feel that we really have  a right to refuse access to ships carrying nuclear material into our own country, whereas the US is just kind of sulking.

Now I don’t feel too strongly in favour of the military in principle, but I do like seeing reports of the NZ military taking peacekeeping or reconstruction roles in conflicts. It seems weird caring so much about what is essentially military politics but I think the anti-nuclear issue goes close to the heart of who NZ is, or at least who I want us to be. Tracy Watkins reminds us that

It was US bullying that hardened New Zealand attitudes over the nuclear-free legislation in the first place, after all. Kiwis instinctively rebelled against the notion the US could tell them what to do.

In a strange way I feel a kind of perverse pride at our ships being excluded from Pearl Harbour. Yeah, that’s right – New Zealand! Nuclear Free! It’s what the people of NZ fought for the ’70s and 80’s and what we continue to believe in.

1976 anti-nuclear protest in Auckland; from the Dominion Post site on Stuff.co.nz

That’s not to say that we can rest on our laurels. We cannot depend on prime minister John “I’d-do-anything-for-money” Key and his cabinet to uphold this important part of our national identity. As a recent article in the Dominion Post points out it takes continual dedication to remain a world leader in disarmament and arms control and to maintain our anti-nuclear credentials. The article describes how last year  the separate portfolio of Minister for Disarmament and Arms Control was discarded by the government after the retirement of the last minister Georgina te Heuheu.

The move to disestablish the disarmament minister is inconsistent with the New Zealand Nuclear Free Zone, Disarmament, and Arms Control Act of 1987, which promotes and encourages our “active and effective contribution to the essential process of disarmament and international arms control”.

Who knew? No one, really. These days as a country our “green” policies are being threatened and overruled at such a rate by a government obsessed with economic growth at the cost of almost all else, particularly social and environmental policy, that it’s hard to keep up with it all. We should probably be more up-in-(no)arms like we used to be.


Please don’t judge us by our pathetic, grovelling prime minister. You want to be on the side that condones nuclear warfare? That’s your issue. But I’m proud to be on the side that’s snubbed by a global superpower for wanting peace.

All I can say is:

Photograph by anti-nuclear protest photographer Gil Hanly; from the NZ Maritime Museum website

[*Note that 1985 was the same year that the French government blew up the Greenpeace ship the Rainbow Warrior in Auckland Harbour for its continuous protests against their nuclear testing in the Pacific.]

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This documentary is hosted by UK actress Joanna Lumley in which she shares a very personal journey to learn about the culture of the Northern Lights and finally see them for herself.

Joanna’s voice is deep and breathy, with a very proper English accent. Her narration gives the film a dreamy, romantic quality and her eloquence, style of speech together with her warm personality make her an altogether charming guide. She openly shares her own fascinating experiences – living with her family in Malaysia (which she pronounces “Malay-zee-ya”) as a child she dreamed of cold and of the mystical North and especially of seeing the Northern Lights. In this film she travels through Norway, into the Arctic Circle and moves ever northward, meeting and staying with local people along the way.

The thing which struck me most about Joanna as a presenter, as herself (rather than an actor), was her humbleness, her amazing rapport with those she meets. She has a wonderful openness, an obvious great affection and generosity of feeling towards everyone else. She is very genuine in her appreciation of people, not at all condescending. When speaking to someone who doesn’t speak much English she listens patiently, earnestly, to what they’re saying. She in really involved, tries to understand everything she sees, and is happy to be corrected. She always tries the local language. She is open in her enthusiasm.

Joanna shows her glee at being able to finally experience the journey she’s dreamed of, and is ready to laugh at herself in ridiculous situations, like being taught how to right a snow mobile by a 4-year-old. One of my favourite scenes is when she is in the quaint fishing village of Å (“Or”) in a rorbu, a fishing cottage. Sitting at a table with her pastels and drawing book, Joanna creates a lovely picture of the scene from the window. I think it’s so brave of her to expose herself like that, to show the world such a private part of her life.

I think there always comes a time in anything you do, like drawing or painting, or indeed acting, when you think “will I ever be good enough to please – well, myself, let alone anybody else? Will it ever be good enough? Will I ever come up to scratch?” Or worse still, people lean over your shoulder and go “…don’t you think his eye is a little more like that?” and you just go “yes, I know, I know, I’m dealing with the eye later. Just, leave me-“. So you know I can’t bear being judged on the things like this because they’re really only for fun and if it pleases you – which it might not, but I mean try to make it please you – try to do things which please you, that’s all. And therefore if it’s not good enough – get better.

And after all this isn’t going to be exhibited anywhere.
…Except on television(!)

I think it’s great how her documentary is at once entertaining and informative, and you get to see a Norwegian journey you couldn’t see with anyone else. Joanna explains how since a young age she’s longed to see the Northern Lights after reading a children’s book called ‘Ponny the Penguin’ by Veronica Basser, in particular an illustration by Edwina Bell of Ponny standing under the Southern Lights and looking up. I think it’s great that when Joanna finally gets to see the Aurora Borealis there’s a shot of her in the film where she looks just like Ponny the Penguin!

I also love her dry sense of humour and I can’t wait to see more of her documentaries in the future. May there be many!

I highly recommend this DVD and if you’d like a taster, it’s also on YouTube.

Director: Archie Baron
Producer: Helena Braun
Starring: Joanna Lumley

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