Wellington the Rockhopper penguin made me a fan of the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, Illinois. I’ve not visited yet and they are officially closed until April 30, 2020. Let’s face it. None of us know when they might be able to reopen and when we might be able to travel to Chicago to visit. Nevertheless, I’ve started following them on Instagram @shedd_aquarium. And my favorite posts feature their penguins going on outings into the aquarium interiors and outside on the steps. When I do finally make it to Shedd I am going to buy a ticket to enjoy the Penguin Experience.
There are other penguin cams available around the world. Celebrate World Penguin Day by checking out one or more of these. Then do something to reduce your use of plastic. Eat only fish approved by Seafood Watch.
I have been moving my home and office since I got back from New Zealand, so I am behind on blogging about my trip. I cannot help but notice that all US social media is leaving a little space (after election coverage) to talk about the last episode of Downton Abbey airing on PBS this Sunday evening. The season traditionally ends with a Christmas episode that plays on Christmas Day in England.–obviously delayed in the USA. I bought Season 6 on Google Play so I have already seen the conclusion and I will not spoil it.
It did make me think about Adelaide’s equivalent of Downton Abbey: Ayer’s House.
Growing up in California I can relate to places like Adelaide, South Australia. The sprung up, new fortune, scratch-a-community-out-of-the-bush feeling is one I know well. Whether it is a gold rush or agricultural land rush, the place history is not very old and the challenges of creating a “showplace” home to create status in a brand new community is familiar. When I walked up the circular drive to Ayer’s House in Adelaide it felt like a mansion in Grass Valley of another mining tycoon.
This particular tycoon, Henry Ayers, exaggerated his work experience. He was an office clerk but he claimed other skills so he could get a subsidy to emigrate to Adelaide with his wife Anna. He did well with the Burra Burra mines and ultimately served as the Premiere of South Australia five times between 1863 and 1873. He built a huge house in downtown Adelaide near the Botanic Garden. Even now it is gracious.
I went to see it because I saw a flyer on the bookshop window advertising the exhibit of costumes from Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. I have watched all of the episodes on Netflix and the costumes depicting a wealthy feminist detective and her entourage solving mysteries. Sometimes with television I am disappointed with the reality of a set or costume because the camera can fool you. These costumes are the real deal–recreated couture to emulate the roaring 20’s.
I was ready to join the enthusiast crowd of women who sew or craft to go through the exhibit, but first I stopped and spoke with the docent at the front door. It was he who told me about Henry Ayers and why the house is worth a look even when there is not a fashion display in every room.
To make it more interesting, the museum staff also created a bit of a whodunit to solve while you walked through the rooms. I did not need anymore entertainment as I was completely enraptured with the clothes themselves. Beautifully made from exquisite fabrics, I enjoyed talking to other women who sew about where they source fabric and how hard it is to find. We all laughed because even though we were from USA and Australia, both of our mothers used to look at a garment in the department store and say the equivalent of “You could make it yourself for less.” Now it is quite the opposite. No one can say they are sewing to be thrifty.
This gives full permission to sew as a creative expression. Many of these garments are impractical and designed and executed as a celebration of beauty.
The show, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, is based on Australian author Kerry Greenwood’s Phryne Fisher book series. I have looked for them in the US and have not found them. The gift shop had a new copy of the first in the series Cocaine Blues. I bought it for my Mom. Then when I found a secondhand bookshop at the Central Market I was able to pick up quite a few more in the series. My Mom read them first and now I am reading them. They are not as complex as say Robert Galbraith’s Cormoran Strike series, but neither do you have to worry about gore or upsetting physical violence. I hope Ms. Greenwood makes her books available electronically in the USA so more people can enjoy them.
If you are interested in fashion that pushes the envelope and is inspiring and beautiful, the check out WOW! The World of Wearable Art dates for 2016 are September 11-October 9 in Wellington, New Zealand. Tickets are available here.
I love, love, love the World of Wearable Art. It is a show, an inspiration, a collection of amazing “garments” and more. A year ago I traveled with my friend UK Sarah to see the show in Wellington. On this visit to Auckland I was able to share the amazing craft that is WOW with my adult children at the Auckland War Memorial and Museum’s exhibit.
You can take any one of the amazing dresses or bras or other creations and marvel at the design, construction and whimsey for a long time. This exhibit allows you to linger as long as you want AND to get up close and personal (without touching).
Or you can create your own WOW inspired paper doll and add it to the wall in the exhibit.
The Auckland Museum is located in the Domain near Parnell in Auckland. Open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $25 per adult and $10 per child. The WOW exhibit is included with admission. Also worth checking out: the Maori Experience (musical performances), the cafe, and the gift shop for quality gifts made in New Zealand.
Tickets for the World of Wearable Art go on sale today. You might have written February 1 on your calendar, but if you are in the US or Europe, New Zealand is a day ahead and should go on-line today for the best selection. One show per evening is scheduled from September 25-October 12 (Monday and Tuesday off) in Wellington. Make it the highlight of your visit to New Zealand.
The World of Wearable Art is an inspiring entertainment event if you are interested in fashion, art, or textiles. If you are a crafter you will marvel at the techniques. If you appreciate beauty you will find yourself saying “Wow!” over and over throughout the evening. I loved it!
There are tickets at a variety of price points from NZ$50-165. Also VIP tables for dinner at stage-side seats are available. A discount is available if you order with your American Express.
English speakers have a couple of dozen superlatives at our disposal to express complete amazement: stupendous, boffo, awesome to name a few. As I watched the World of Wearable Art show unfold, I just kept saying “Wow!”
The level of creativity and inventiveness made such a deep impression on me in the few examples I had seen in museums that I timed my visit to New Zealand around the 2 weeks of the show. You have to plan as the tickets go on sale in January and many of the evenings sell out quickly. My friend UK Sarah was willing to go with me and make a girls weekend in Wellington on the strength of my enthusiasm, and then she saw a few of the previous entries on display in Rotorua and she became a convert.
Fortunately we had friends with a flat near downtown so we did not have to find lodging. We could walk to the TSB Bank Arena in Queens Wharf, even with our heels and fancy dress. You do not have to dress up, but it can be part of the fun. It is an audience who will admire your effort. I received several compliments on my wrap while standing in the inevitable line to the ladies restroom. (The restroom is a must stop before the show–no intermission!)
The stage is set so each creation can come out from a centerpiece and progress out on to one of five runways. The fashion entries rotate around in a choreography to music so there is always so much to look at and enjoy. Dancers and, in one set, circus performers, add to the visual stimulation. There is so much to delight the eyes, the biggest challenge is figuring out a strategy for focusing attention to avoid missing any of it.
We bought the “premium plus” ticket for the 25th anniversary show. This ensures the quality of the seats and includes the program. It is $25NZ if you buy it separately and greatly enhances the after-show experience as each design is featured in photos. It also helps to explain the sections or themes for the show. At the end of the performance they announce the winners of each section and overall winners.
Anticipation can sweeten the experience of an event and it can lead to disappointment. The World of Wearable Art was satisfying in every way and worth the effort.
There are six reasons to do the Wellington Botanic Garden: 1) you can arrive by cable car to the top of the garden and walk down (brilliant!); 2) you can marvel at the long established plantings on steep hillsides; 3) you can chat with the staff in the Visitor’s Centre; 4) you can get a toastie and a coffee in the Picnic Cafe in the Begonia House; 5) you can see a lot in a short amount of time or you can meander all day; and 6) you can enter from any point in the garden–there is no admission charge!!! (Thank you City of Wellington.)
The cliche, windy Wellington, played out. Hurricane force gusts of wind buffeted us as we walked home from dining out. However, Wellington is not so easily dismissed. As the capital city, it has many paradoxes–just like New Zealand. They celebrate Katherine Mansfield for largely inventing the modern short story–something she did while living in Europe.
Wellington hosts some wildly creative people, including WETA studios and the World of Wearable Art–and the national government. They have a beautiful botanical garden with a lush history of plants–and a freeway that rips right through the heart of the city. It makes for a stimulating place to visit. There is no shortage of great coffee and restaurants. Just be sure to carry a waterproof jacket. And best not to watch your plane land in the airport (eyes shut tight!).
Among the reasons I am visiting New Zealand is to attend The World of Wearable Art. It was great to see a big mural welcoming me to New Zealand and to WOW. UK Sarah and I will fly to Wellington next week to have fun in NZ’s capital and to see WOW on Thursday night. What does one wear? If you are avant garde enough, you can go for something outrageous or high fashion. I decided to find a dress that I feel great in and buy a new pair of heels that rock the outfit. I found my dress in Portland at a shop called Folly.
In a Portland magazine I read about Sarah Bibb, a Portland designer who makes her clothes in a local factory and sells her designs and other “made in USA” designs in a shop a short bike ride from our hotel. As soon as it stopped raining, I hopped on my Brompton and raced to Folly to check out her clothes. The designer was in the shop and gave me her personal attention. At first I was looking for my daughter as many of the designs were more appealing to a twenty-something.
Then I told her that I was looking for a dress for WOW and she pulled a great looking knit dress that travels well off the rack. I tried it on and loved it enough to buy it.
I learned a lot from Sarah about the challenges of designing and manufacturing clothing in the United States. You cannot compete with Target by making disposable clothing, that is for sure. Sarah explained that the recession has taken a toll on manufacturing in the USA. Most of the remaining garment industry is in Los Angeles. In Folly, 20% of the clothing are her designs, and 80% are made in the USA.
Back to my episode of What to Wear to Wow… Finding the right shoes to go with the dress was a little more trial and error. After a pair that I found on DSW website did not fit, I went to my fail safe–Macy’s and Franco Sarto.
I had a dress rehearsal while in New York City. The dress does travel well and it feels great to wear. I could use more practice walking in the shoes!
Having seen the WOW dresses at the Nelson museum and at a special exhibit in Rotorua, I look forward to an exhilarating sensory experience.