'I'm always looking for the Hows and the Whys and the Whats,' said Muskrat, 'That is why I speak as I do. You've heard of Muskrat's Much-in-Little, of course?'
'No,' said the child. 'What is it?'
- The Mouse and his Child. Russell Hoban.

Go here to find out more.

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Up a Tower Monking

About the last six weeks or so, for a couple of days each week, I have been being rather Monkish.

A bit of background. A few years ago my former art tutor James Ormsby discovered that an ancestor of his had copied and illuminated a psalter, which is part of the collection in the Bodian Library.
He decided he too would write out parts of the bible and illuminate them, and has done some very interesting and beautiful work, even to my non-religious eyes.

At present, he has an exhibition ‘Tu’, of his work in the local Tauranga Art Gallery. As part of the exhibition, he decided he, or someone, would work, during opening hours, on another manuscript, but up a tower with the the work slowly cascading down the side of the tower as it progressed. He is writing out Revelations, backwards, and in Maori.
He talked me and two other friends into writing and illuminating a work too. We are together writing out the Tauranga City Council Vehicle Regulations. At any time each day, there’s usually someone up the tower working away.

It has been a fascinating experience. We have ‘taken a vow of silence’ and don’t engage with visitors through talk, but can answer people’s questions called up to us, by writing on pieces of paper and tossing them down. We wear a dark brown hoodie, with the hood up.  I feel a certain pressure to write Wise Words, which is not always easy when the question is something like 'Do you eat up there?'

We’ve done about six weeks and the writing is done. We are now working on the illustrations and illuminations. Two weeks to go. The general theme of my own illustrations is 'nature one can see from a car'.  So far I have been painting a lot of gulls eating chips.  I might move on to gulls on lampposts.

‘Tu’ means ‘the space between’.


  1. Revelations, backwards and in Maori ... that's quite mind-boggling. I think that, considering it's being done up a tower dressed in brown hoodies and under a vow of silence, together with another artist writing out the Tauranga City Council Vehicle Regulations illustrated with pictures of gulls eating chips, it's probably the single most esoteric piece of art I've ever hear about - though I am at a loss whether to call it performance art, ancient and traditional art, modern art, or some kind of combination of all three. Whichever it might be, I think I'd like to see that. It must be quite an experience!

  2. I think you have summarised it perfectly Jay.

  3. Oddly I'd read about the exhibition on another blog but had no idea of your involvement. You are a dark horse. I'm not sure about esoteric: simply because I'm not sure there can be anyone with a knowledge of the true significance of writing out the Tauranga City Council Vehicle Regulations illustrated with pictures of gulls eating chips. However I think it is certainly thought provoking. But is it art? Oh dear. The eternal question. To which there is no eternal answer.

  4. Another person is blogging about it? How super, Geeb.
    And here was me thinking gulls eating chips was too obvious. Good.
    (Hint: nature from a car)


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