Feline t-shirt

During our Identi-Tee: My T-shirt, My Story exhibition, we displayed this Feline PVC t-shirt which was presented to Auckland Museum in 2003 by Auckland fashionista Faith.
Finn McCahon-Jones, our Associate Curator Applied Arts, interviewed Faith about the history and significance of the t-shirt, which she purchased from Feline’s Auckland store in 1996.


Feline PVC t-shirt 1996

Feline PVC t-shirt 1996


“I wore the t-shirt to my 7th form ball, which had an anything goes fancy dress theme; hence the random collection of Star Troopers, Cat Women, princesses and 1970s throwbacks in the photo.

I was an avid fan of British magazines The Face and iD at the time, and I was kind of digging the dark, almost gothic club wear they often had in their photoshoots. So I thought I’d wear something along those lines that was kind of cat like – fancy dress enough but not too obvious when going into town later.

I trawled the shops looking for something suitable and Feline (funnily enough) was the only shop doing stuff like that. They only had a small selection of sizes so I got the t-shirt tailor made, even went in for a fitting before it was finished.

They had rubber versions at the same price too but was told they got really hot, and you had to douse yourself in talcum powder before wearing it or else you could get a nasty chaff!

I think they were making stuff like that for clubbers, especially the ones going to those ‘Sex’ themed parties at Havoc’s Squid Bar. Plus I remember there seemed to be big interest in bondage styles in fashion at the time, maybe partly thanks to the new Batman movie and the proliferation of Taschen books – you know Betty Page and all that.

I made a full length A-line skirt out of this slinky leopard print gold lamé stuff to wear with it. I also wore a 1960s black coat with real fur lapels and trim, a spiked collar, black boots, and my hair up in pointy ‘ears’ (Faith is second from right in photo).


At her 7th form ball, Faith - second from the right - wears her Feline PVC t-shirt.

At her 7th form ball, Faith - second from the right - wears her Feline PVC t-shirt.


I didn’t wear the t-shirt very often after that, a couple of (dare I say) techno parties perhaps, oh and it came in very handy when I was working at a bar that had at a Matrix theme one night. Ha ha.

Shiny/glossy things were so hot then. I also made a few black satin dresses and some metallic blue trousers, got a PVC biker style sleeveless vest in Sydney, and had an ex-traffic cop’s jacket with big reflective stripes. Shudder.”


August 23, 2012

Posted by:

Rebecca Phillipps

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June Excavations 2

Shelter for the total station!

We only had one week to complete the excavation on the beach, begun in February. We began by clearing away the sand covering to excavation until we reached the protective layer of tarpaulin covering the archaeological material still in situ. Once uncovered we continued excavations, targeting the units we had left unexcavated in February. We quickly discovered this included as very large haangi, clearly defined by densely pack stones and charcoal. The units at the end of the trench furthest from the sea continued to   yield large numbers of stone artefacts. Perseverance in this area was rewarded however, at the end of the week when we discovered four postholes along the back of the trench. With all this information we can finally begin to reconstruct the occupation of the beach. Now we have to process thousands of artefacts….Watch this space!

Post holes along the back wall

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August 23, 2012

Posted by:

Rebecca Phillipps

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June Excavations

Preparing for final recording on the beach, February 2012

Eager to get back out to Ahuahu, a small group of us returned to the island in June to continue excavations not completed in February. The June crew consisted of Simon, Louise, Peter, Pete, Alex, Rod, Ben Davies, Ben Jones, Josh, Annelies and myself. In conditions that were significantly colder, rainier and windier than February, the focus of this dig was to complete the work begun on the beach front. In February the beach front had yielded a large cluster of haangi stone in addition to stone artefacts, and some faunal material, however, it wasn’t clear exactly what this area represented. Was it a rubbish dump filled with remains of haangi and stone working? Or was it an area people lived in? And if not, where might that be? We wanted to know if we could discern any clear features to account for the large numbers of haangi stones, but also the large numbers of stone artefacts and comparatively low number of bone and shell material.

Excavating in colder and wetter conditions on the beach, June 2012

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A Viking’s approach to nature photography

“Maybe it’s my Viking ancestry.”

Trying to explain his passion for ocean swells and isolated marine environments, nature photographer Kim Westerskov jokes that it might stem from his Viking roots. He specialises in what he calls “ocean wilderness” areas – in the seas, sea life and coastlines from Antarctica to tropical seas.

“I’ve had a long love affair with these wild, wet, cold and lonely places and an equally strong commitment to capturing some of the wonder and beauty and of these places.” 

Campbell Albatross over a stormy ocean © Kim Westerskov

Campbell Albatross over a stormy ocean © Kim Westerskov

He is the only photographer ever to have won five first prizes in the world’s largest nature photography competition, the BBC/Natural History Museum (currently Veolia Environnement) “Wildlife Photographer of the Year” competition.

This prestigious competition is essentially the “Olympics” of nature photography worldwide – the last round of the competition attracted over 40,000 images from 95 countries.

Photographic assignments have included work for the BBC, TVNZ, New Zealand Herald, New Zealand Geographic magazine, and the Department of Conservation. One of his largest assignment saw him take 25,000 photos in Antarctica for the $7 million Visitor Centre at Christchurch’s International Antarctic Centre.

 Lone Adelie penguin in field of jagged, jumbled sea ice in Antarctica © Kim Westerskov

Lone Adelie penguin in field of jagged, jumbled sea ice in Antarctica © Kim Westerskov


Emperor penguin chicks 'socialising' with their parents in Antartica © Kim Westerskov

Emperor penguin chicks 'socialising' with their parents in Antartica © Kim Westerskov

Along the way in his photographic assignments he’s been “cuddled” by a humpback whale, caught in a diving sperm whale’s downdraft, dived under the Antarctic ice and photographed at minus 50 degrees Celsius in Antarctica.

Humpback Whale mother and baby © Kim Westerskov

Humpback Whale mother and baby © Kim Westerskov


Humpback Whale surfacing underwater © Kim Westerskov

Humpback Whale surfacing underwater © Kim Westerskov

“I’ve always loved nature. When I was a child, I spent as much time as possible by myself in the hills and forests. Later my family moved to a coastal village near Dunedin and then I spent most of my spare time in the sea: surf lifesaving, swimming, surfing, diving… After I graduated from university (with a Ph.D. in marine biology) I was faced with either getting a “real job” or doing what I liked best and trying to make it into a job. So that’s what I’ve done ever since – photograph and write about the sea and the many animals that live there.

Blue shark © Kim Westerskov

Blue shark © Kim Westerskov

“Eighteen books have resulted, and a career that has been exciting, rewarding, and successful enough to support my wonderful family: my wife Vivienne, son Gareth and daughter Anne.”

“In recent years I’ve become a teacher too, sharing techniques and insights with a steady stream of keen photographers through the various photo workshops and field trips that I run.  

“A part of me always wanted to be a teacher, so I find these times rewarding – and fun. I’m meeting some great people. Sharing with others – by photography and writing and teaching – some of the beauty, wonder and excitement of the sea is what I like doing best. On a good day, surrounded by whales or dolphins or sea lions or seabirds – or just the sea and sky – it’s the best job in the world. Then the wind and swell come up… and up, and it’s not quite so good. Still, even then I keep photographing – the cover photo on the first edition of the book “The Perfect Storm” was one of mine.”

“I love being a nature photographer. I love nature and I love mooching around by myself and I love art. Nature photography allows me to combine all three. Eventually it even allowed me to make a career out of it.”
Asked how he honed his craft, Kim says it was just ‘by doing it’.

“Specifically by taking my camera to the places I loved – wilderness places and underwater – and trying to capture the essence, the special moments of what I saw. I also spent a lot of time analysing the photos I had recently taken, so what worked, what didn’t work, and how could I do better next time. And by reading photography magazines and books, talking with other photographers and going to workshops.”

“My best piece of advice for people looking to develop their photography skills or forge a career out of it is to do it. Do it, enjoy the journey, and keep doing it. Learn from anybody and everybody. Keep learning – I’m learning new stuff faster today than at any other time in my career [my head hurts].  As in most endeavours it’s those people with the most passion that will eventually succeed.” 

Orca whales © Kim Westerskov

Orca whales © Kim Westerskov

“Learn whatever technical skills you need, but don’t get too hung up over the technical stuff. I believe that good photography is perhaps only 20% about the technical stuff, and maybe 80% about ‘the other stuff’ – passion, love, commitment, a good eye, knowledge of [and respect for] your subject and understanding what aspects of photography can create emotion and connection in photos.”

Kim will be sharing his portfolio and more insights into photography tomorrow at Auckland Museum at 2pm (Saturday 18 August) or you can visit his site to learn more http://www.kimwphotography.com/ 

Art versus reality: Kah Kit Yoong

Vibrant blues, stunning shades of orange and artistic swirls of misty waters combine to create a hyperreal impression in Melbourne-based photographer Kah Kit Yoong’s Dawn Stars image. Currently on show in the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition at Auckland Museum, the photograph was taken in Paparoa National Park and won Kah Kit a “highly commended” award and inclusion in the international touring exhibition.

Dawn Stars © Kah Kit Yoong

Dawn Stars © Kah Kit Yoong

Ahead of his talk at Auckland Museum next week Kah Kit has shared some of his thoughts on the art of photography and the power of the camera’s eye to see more than our own.


Enlightenment
This week someone took me to task about a photograph I made of a clearing storm in Glenorchy two years ago. This sleepy township is a short scenic drive from Queenstown. Glenorchy has all the ingredients a landscape photographer could want: a mountain range, flowing water and a beautiful lagoon. Coupled with the dramatic conditions that the location frequently sees and it’s no wonder that it has become one of my favourite spots for photography.

The criticism was that the photograph wasn’t realistic. I agreed the landscape depicted in my image “Twilight Zone” could never be seen in this state in the real world. That is not to say that the scene never physically existed, because it did. The blueprint for the finished photograph was constructed wholly in-camera, the result of a long exposure lasting two minutes which collected light and colour that the human eye doesn’t appreciate in near darkness. Contrast adjustments in post-capture served only to optimize the colours already present in the RAW file.

Twilight Zone © Kah Kit Yoong

Twilight Zone © Kah Kit Yoong


One of the pivotal moments in a photographer’s development is the realization that a camera ‘sees’ things differently from the eye. The way the digital sensor can harness light in the most dimly lit circumstances, often with very surprising results is just one example. The movement of the clouds streaking across the sky over this two minute exposure is another way the camera can capture something beyond earthly bounds.

Why is the crescent moon sharp? I was fortunate that the moon peaked out between clouds for a few seconds during my exposure, enough to be recorded but not so long as to be affected by movement of celestial rotation.

Physically small features that make a big impact is something I am always on the look out for as a photographer.

“Borrowed Light” is another photograph shot in near darkness. The location, Gillespie’s beach on the west coast is a place I can come back to over and over again. The driftwood carried onto the pebble beach by the Tasman Sea means that the landscape is constantly changing. I waited until the sky was quite dark long after sunset. My trained eye at that time could make out a faint light on the driftwood and southern alps that I knew would bloom into a gorgeous warm glow over the five minute exposure.

Borrowed Light © Kah Kit Yoong

Borrowed Light © Kah Kit Yoong

Under most circumstances, the camera sees the world exactly as we do but there are also situations where it deviates from strictly documenting what we witness. The former is about showing people what we have witnessed, the latter is about demonstrating something that they have never seen before.

Realistic? No, but since when was art about reality?

You can see more of Kah Kit’s photography on his website including a gallery devoted to images from New Zealand and another devoted to seascapes.

August 8, 2012

Posted by:

Andrea Stevens

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Being there – eye witness to volcanic eruptions

Mount Tongariro’s eruption on Tuesday night is yet another potent reminder of our location on the Pacific Ring of Fire. While these tectonic events occur across millennia and in many different locations, we are the early 21st Century eye witnesses via webcams, Google images and newsfeeds, and for some, in person.

A Māori eye witness account from 1869 spoke of a “bright red flame through the smoke that would burst and fall like snow“. This is not too different to this week’s account by local resident David Bennett  speaking to the NZ Herald, where he describes “a big cloud heading straight up from the crater, thunder and lightning from in the cloud”.

Our Manuscripts Librarian Martin Collett has scanned for me this 1890 account by Roderick Gray from the book Tongariro : the sacred mountain of the Maori. It gives a spectacular account of what Gray witnessed while on the top of Tongariro, in vivid Victorian prose:


"Tongariro : the sacred mountain of the Maori" written by Roderick Gray and published in 1890

"Tongariro : the sacred mountain of the Maori" written by Roderick Gray and published in 1890


To find historic photographic accounts, I’ve delved into the Auckland Museum’s Pictorial Collections with our Pictorial Librarian Shaun Higgins, and discovered several images of Mt Tongariro, which Te Ara reminds us isn’t a single volcano but a “complex of craters that have been active at different periods”.

These images by early New Zealand photographers show Tongariro when its main active vent Ngāuruhoe is erupting, displaying why it is the tallest of Tongariro’s vents.


Beattie, William (1908) Tongariro and Ngauruhoe. Auckland Museum neg. B139

Beattie, William (1908) Tongariro and Ngauruhoe. Auckland Museum neg. B139


Beattie, William (1913) Taumarunui from the hills. Auckland Museum neg. B138

Beattie, William (1913) Taumarunui from the hills. Auckland Museum neg. B138


Unknown photographer. (1928) Mt Ngauruhoe. Auckland Museum call no. DU436.189 N57

Unknown photographer. (1928) Mt Ngauruhoe. Auckland Museum call no. DU436.189 N57


Scott, G.B. (1954) Ngauruhoe from Ruapehu. NZ. Auckland Museum call no. TR485 S426

Scott, G.B. (1954) Ngauruhoe from Ruapehu. NZ. Auckland Museum call no. TR485 S426


Closer to Tuesday night’s eruption location is the Te Maari vent, shown here in an 1890s black and white image held in Te Papa’s Collections.

University of Auckland volcanologist Jan Lindsay says “it will be interesting to see how the eruption develops – whether it continues for months, or is over already. If the former we may see ash reaching Auckland depending on the wind direction. We know from looking at sediment cores from Auckland lakes that ash from Tongariro has reached Auckland many times over the last 80,000 years.”

You can follow Mt Tongariro’s activity daily through satellite images and reporting on GNS Science’s GeoNet hazard monitoring.

And for detailed information about volcanoes visit Auckland Museum’s volcano website.