Category Archives: Viewed It

Mad Max meets Dr Who

CelesteReviews Steampunk HQ Logo

Steampunk HQ Logo

Steampunk HQ
1 Itchen Street, Oamaru

Take steam powered machinery and other random items from 19th century Victorian England, add a twist of Sci Fi and fantasy, and sprinkle with an unsettling undercurrent of Goth and horror. Mix together with a post-apocalyptic feel and a sprinkle of artistic historical drama, and I give you Steampunk HQ, “Oamaru styles”. Or, in their words, “Tomorrow, as it used to be”.

My interpretation?  Imagine an alternative Victorian future, where Mad Max meets Dr Who. By far the weirdest interactive art installation that I’ve ever encountered.

It’s not for everyone’s palate. A prior appreciation for the essence of the Steampunk genre goes a long way in attempting to understand this artistic expression.

CelesteReviews Steampunk train

From the outside of the historic Meeks Grain Elevator Building in Oamaru’s Victorian Precinct, you are greeted by an impressive steam train spouting flames, an interesting motorcycle, a kaleidoscope machine with an airship hanging overhead. Surely, you know you are in for more than your usual art gallery experience.

CelesteReviews Steampunk Motorcycle

Motorcycle and Kaleidoscope

CelesteReviews Steampunk

Pop $2 into the train to see it flame and smoke

CelesteReviews Steampunk Oamaru

Steampunk HQ Artist, Jac Grenfell

Lounging against the train, we bumped into Jac Grenfell, one of the artists of Steampunk HQ and a quirky fellow himself. He explained how there is an unrealistic perception that the Victorian era was all this lovely elegance, when really it was a hard and bleak time in history. So, they’ve taken Victorian items and provided a more serious artistic perspective of the Industrial Revolution, but in a fun and quirky manner.

Their artistic spin dramatises how humans and machines from this era interact. Which segues nicely to Steampunk HQ’s logo (see above)  incorporating a cog (machine) and skull (human).

CelesteReviews Steampunk

Maze Portal – gateway to Steampuk HQ’s inner dimensions

Stepping into the first darkened room, you feel you’ve stepped back in time, but into the future. Strange contraptions peer through the rising steam and machines whir as your eyes adjust to the low level of light.

Some of the art is downright spooky. Especially the eerie collection of vintage dentist chairs clustered here and there. Peering down through a glass window in the floor, a vintage dentist chair is set in a gloomy dungeon. I honestly felt that I was about to witness a scene from a SAW horror movie.

Other works provided a little humour, such as the ‘Maze Portal’, providing a gateway to the inner dimensions of Steampunk HQ.

CelesteReviews Steampunk Oamaru

Cheerful tractor driver

Bigger installations and other curious machines feature in the second room. A large boat, complete with pitchfork wielding captain at the helm, peers through the rising smoke at a skulled rider atop a steam powered tractor. Several old fashioned dental chairs recline in a semi circle to watch a themed Steampunk short film, while in the corner sits a portal to unexplained mysterious dimensions.

CelesteReviews Steampunk Oamaru

Boat with pitchfork wielding Captain

My husband described the yard area as having the post-apocalyptic feel of the computer game ‘Fallout’. It is filled with machines and parts, in different stages of artistic completion. An impressive black locomotive carriage is the largest piece situated in the yard, kitted out with a spiky mane and other mysterious adornments. Make sure you clamber on top of the carriage, for an alternative view of the heavy metal devices (the jury is still out on the purpose of the giant bell hanging from an oversized bath plug chain).

CelesteReviews Steampunk Oamaru

Locomotive in the yard area (note the bell and chain contraption – top right)

Casting your eyes skyward, there are more unusual sights to behold. Giant flies swarm the side of the historic building, while a skeletal fisherman tries his luck from the top of the building.

CelesteReviews Steampunk Oamaru

The Yard (note the flies on the building and the fisherman on the roof)

We loved the freedom of Steampunk HQ. There are no barriers or prescriptive route of the order to view the artworks. You are left on your own to explore and be delighted with what you discover. With so much to take in, I’m sure that no two visitors will have the same experience.

Jac ensures us that the Steampunk HQ team has a lot of development plans in the pipeline, including a room of infinite mirrors. So, stay tuned for more adventures.

I’m not sure I’ll ever fully understand all of the work included in Steampunk HQ, but we thoroughly enjoyed our hour of weird and wonderful entertainment.

CelesteReviews Steampunk Oamaru

Aethertractor, situated outside the Information Centre

Entry: It’s $10 per adult to explore the yard and inside works. You can also put coins in the outside attractions (steam train, airship, etc) to see them in action.

In a Nutshell: Take an open mind, and prepare to be  immersed in a strange and quirky alternative world.

Top Tip: It could be a bit scary for youngsters (low light levels, skulls, smoke and dramatic lighting), but I imagine brave boys would love the machinery. Also look out for other Steampunk artwork around town.

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Get Your Skates On!

Richter City Roller Derby 2011 Final

16 July 2011, TSB Arena, Wellington

It’s Saturday night in Wellington city, I’m surrounded by at least 2,000 screaming fans, and I’m trying to decipher the rules of a sport I’ve only ever seen in the movie ‘Whip It’. It’s the grand final of Wellington’s Richter City Roller Derby league – Smash Malice vs Comic Slams, at the TSB Arena.

Wellington Roller Derby 2011 Final

Smash Malice's Jammer makes a break for it

Set to an 80’s rock soundtrack, roller derby involves four skaters (Blockers) on each team rolling counter clockwise around an oval circuit, bumping and blocking each other to get another team player (Jammer) through the group. The Jammers wear a big star on their helmets to help poor viewers (like us) identify them. Points are scored when the Jammer passes each skater on the other team, and continues until the ‘Jam’ has ended. Players often change in each ‘Jam’.

Roller Derby Jam

Comic Slams attempt to keep Smash Malice at bay

It’s a fast pace game of two 30 minute halves. My ability to work out all the rules was also hindered by the sheer spectacle of costumes worn both in the rink and by the supporters in the crowd.

Smash Malice were donned in various states of leopard print, gold and black, with team members named Scarface, Slammoth, Cupcake, Skatebite and my favourite skater of the night, SkandaLass. Comic Slams wore blue and silver, with players known as Nuken, Mischief, Hurtiliser and Evil Diva.

Roller Derby Ref

Even the refs, and there are a huge amount of refs in this sport,  were in character. They were decked out in black and white stripes, with names such as, Danger Danger, Fiend and the only in-line skater on the court (and from my seat the fastest skater of the night) – Speed Addict.

All three groups dress up attire included enough Lycra, fishnet stockings and eyeliner to have stepped straight out of the eighties.

I’m not going to pretend I fully understood the scoring or rules of the match, but I certainly enjoyed my unique evening in Wellington. The only let down of the event was the PA, meaning we couldn’t make out a word the commentators were saying.

Smash Malice were the winning team on the night, scoring 122 points to Comic Slams’ 90.

For those chicks reading who are inspired to don their skates and fishnets and take to the rink, there are Roller Derby teams in Auckland, Whangarei, Hamilton, Taupo, Kawerau, Mount Maunganui, New Plymouth, Palmerston North, Wellington, Hawke’s Bay, Gisborne, Blenheim, Christchurch, Dunedin and Invercargill.

You can also follow the NZ Roller Derby Team on their way to the Derby World Cup in Toronto (Dec 2011).

In a nutshell: Get a programme, or at least look up the rules before you watch a match – it’ll make far more sense. Get your skates on!


BMX Triple Back Flip & the Two Ronnies

Sorry that I’ve been incommunicado for the past few weeks. My upcoming posts should help explain what I’ve been up to. But until then, here is a couple of my favourite videos from the past week.

First up is the world’s first BMX triple back flip, performed by Jed Mildon in Taupo on 28th May 2011. Totally cool!


You can also check out Jed’s ‘back story’ here.

The second clip is for those of you who appreciate English humour or are technologically sauvie (ie own a blackberry or apple product).


I laughed, and laughed, and laughed, especially putting the “date in my diary” and the “X Box”.

Enjoy!


Stone Temple Pilots Play NZ

Vector Arena, 26 March 2011

Although lead singer Scott Weiland has performed in New Zealand before – as front man for Velvet Revolver – Kiwi fans had been waiting forever to see Stone Temple Pilots perform in Aotearoa. It was poetic that their last show for their recent world tour, finished with their first ever New Zealand performance at Auckland’s Vector Arena.

Stone Temple Pilots

Vector Arena was by no means full, with the upper half of the seated area curtained off. Those with standing tickets were definitely an eclectic bunch of fans.

You know you are at an old school concert when you are standing behind a man in his early 50’s, dressed in black, with a mullet (although going bald on top), playing air guitar in his own little world. His group also included a bleached blond wearing ‘ugg’ boots and a fringed jacket, plus a late 40’s woman wearing a floor length velvet dress. I tell you, it was like something out of Outrageous Fortune.

I was also surprised that there were many fans in their 20’s, including my little sister and her friends – one of which had travelled 5 hours by bus just to see her high school crush – Scott Weiland. I’d like to think that I had some influence in their great taste in music.

Given Scott Weiland’s substance abuse history, he certainly looked well, sporting ensemble of striped shirt, bomber jacket, aviators and a scarf. I’m not sure if it is part of his rehab, but the Tai Chi like moves he performed on stage were very … interesting, but then he’s always danced a bit like a snake being charmed, waving wildly from the hips.

The music was unbelievably awesome.  Much to the delight of the crowd, Weiland pulled out a megaphone to complete his performance of Big Empty and Sex Type Thing. The band played plenty of my favourites from both 1992 album Core, and Purple (1994).  The highlights for me were Wicked Garden (footage taken by jonnyfootballhero), Interstate Love Song, Vasoline and their encore performance of Dead and Bloated (where Weiland arrived on stage covered in a blanket, sporting his trusty megaphone). You can view the full set list here.

Stone Temple Pilots take a bow

STP's take a bow

The band embraced and bowed at the end of their performance, which is not something you see very often by a rock band. This concert was a long time coming, but well received by an enthusiastic New Zealand crowd.

You might also be interested in the reviews from Stuff.co.nz and New Zealand Herald.

The only let down of the evening was opening act Head Like A Hole. I was one of the lucky ones who received Ticketmaster’s update email, sent only 2 hours before the show, advising that HLAH would be taking to the stage earlier than previously advertised. Having never seen them perform live before, I made sure I arrived in time, but was sorely disappointed at their lacklustre performance.

In a nutshell: Stone Temple Pilots are complete old school rock stars. Loved every minute of it!


March Movies

As well as out Fatso contingent of films on DVD/Blu Ray last month, we also ventured out from the comfort of our couch and went to the actual cinema, not once, but twice!

I AM NUMBER FOURI Am Number Four

Our spontaneous outing to the cinema to see this movie meant that I had absolutely no clue what the film was about. Having no prior expectations often makes the film far more enjoyable.

Alex Petlyfer plays John, who is ‘Number Four’ in those saved from his planet. When the first three are killed it is up to John and his guardian Henri (Timothy Olyphant) to keep his heritage intact. Dianna Agron (Glee) plays John’s love interest. The special effects were great and both Petlyfer and Olyphant are very nice to look at. View the trailer.

In a nutshell: Action and romance. Should keep all parties happy.

LIMITLESS

Our second trip to the cinema in March was to see Bradley Cooper (The Hangover) and Robert De Niro in this gripping thriller.

The story – humans only use 20% of their brain, so what happens if you could take a pill to help you use the other 80%? How would it change your life? A fresh and interesting concept. Definitely the best movie I saw all month.

In a nutshell: Great film. Go and see it.

THE SOCIAL NETWORK

If you haven’t heard of the social networking website of Facebook, then you have obviously been living under a rock for the past seven years. This movie is based on the true story of Facebook’s conception and the relationships of the pivotal people involved, as the by-line of the movie states “You don’t get to 500 million friends without making a few enemies”.

Jesse Eisenberg does a great job playing geeky Mark Zuckerberg, the brains behind Facebook, while Justin Timberlake’s portrayal of Napstar’s, Sean Parker, was surprisingly good.

In a nutshell: Hubby didn’t like it, but I really enjoyed this movie and recommend it to every Facebooker out there.

SALT

Action packed spy movie staring Angelina Jolie. I personally enjoyed this film because it didn’t focus on how hot Anglelina is, in fact she ALMOST looks like an average person with her hair short, although not sure if all the fight scenes dictate an average status.

In a nutshell: A good basic action movie.

Tomorrow When the War Began

TOMORROW WHEN THE WAR BEGAN

The first negative to this movie is the Australian accents, but if you can get past that, it’s okay. The movie is based on a series of teen books, which I haven’t read.

The basic outline is seven Aussie teens go camping in the middle of no where and come back to find that their country is at war, and all their families have been captured. Typically all your major stereotypes are covered: dumb blonde, Asian guy, pretty boy, straight laced girl, bad boy, etc.

It’s a coming of age story, with the scenery of the Australian bush and outback presented in a much better way that ‘Australia – the Movie’. However, the last scene, focusing on each of the teen’s faces as they stand proud on a rock is a bit over the top.

In a nutshell: Save it for a rainy day.

WHERE THE TRUTH LIES

Lanny (Kevin Bacon) and Vince (Colin Firth) are an entertainment duo in the 50’s. The discovery of a dead maid in their hotel suite destroys the partnership, even though they both have rock solid alibis. Fifteen years on, an up-and-coming journalist decides to investigate. It was interesting to see Colin Firth with a dirty 70’s moustache and I’m not sure if all the slightly porno scenes added to the story, but an interesting movie, all the same.

In a nutshell: Interesting to see Bacon and Firth do something a bit different, but a bit slow in places.

IN THE ELECTRIC MIST

In a backwater part of America, a hooker turns up dead. At the same time a black prisoner from the 60’s body is also discovered. Tommy Lee Jones plays a detective investigating the murders, who is sure that a Mobster (John Goodman) is involved.

In a nutshell: Definitely not Tommy Lee Jones’ best work, but the hubby enjoyed it.


My Date With Dave Grohl

Foo Fighters – Christchurch Benefit Concert

Auckland Town Hall, 22nd March 2011

Okay, okay, so I had to share him with 2,000 other fans, and I took my husband along, but this is probably the most intimate I’ll ever get with Dave Grohl in my lifetime. Yes, I was one of the lucky few who scored tickets to see the Foo Fighters this week.

Foo Fighters Auckland Town Hall

That's me in the bottom right hand corner with most of The Rock crew and other NZ celebrities in the balcony above. Foo Fighters, Auckland Town Hall, 22nd March 2011. (photo courtesy of http://www.facebook.com/foofighters)

It took less than two weeks for the Foo Fighters from dreaming up the idea of playing a charity gig for Christchurch, to performing in Auckland, meaning we only had a couple of days warning that one of the biggest rock bands in the world was coming to NZ. The Edge’s ticketing website and phones had a melt down on the morning that tickets went on sale. I got through to the purchasing screen, but the page took longer than the allocated 12 mins to refresh to the payment screen, so I gave up and sent them an email. Lo and behold a lovely fellow, named Ben, called me back and offered to take my order for two tickets over the phone. Thank you to The Edge for your fantastic customer service, at what must have been an insanely manic time for you and your staff.

In an interview with The Rock, Dave explained that New Zealand has always been good to the Foo Fighters, and they just wanted to help. If he was a carpenter he would have offered to fix stuff, and if he was a chef then he would have helped to feed Christchurch, but the only thing he knows is playing music. And I sure as hell wasn’t complaining! I mean have you ever been to a concert when has the headlining band has played with non stop enthusiasm for nearly three hours? Yes three hours! Awesome!

Foo Fighters Auckland Town Hall

Our View (photo courtesy of Husband)

First up they played everything from their soon-to-be-released album “Wasting Light”, which I guess was good practice for their upcoming tour, and a great sneak preview for us. They followed this album with just about every hit they’ve ever had, including all my favourites. They played a total of thirty songs over their three hour performance, including a ‘guitar-off’ during Stacked Actors, where Dave ran around the balcony, being groped/kissed/screamed at by fans, while shadowed by the hugest bouncer ever. For those of you interested, here is the set list.

Dave Grohl Auckland Town Hall

My Date, Dave (photo courtesy of http://www.facebook.com/foofighters)

The crowd was definitely not your typical international-rock-band-concert crowd. Maybe it was the fact that it was a ‘school night’, that people had shelled out a lot of money for the tickets ($175 or $250), or the selective nature of obtaining the tickets, but it was definitely a tame crowd of die hard fans. Not that we didn’t sing at the top of our lungs, but everyone was well behaved with no pushing or drunken behaviour. Maybe the crowd was just in awe with how lucky were to be witness to such a special performance?

The Auckland Town Hall is a majestic and intimate venue. It holds a special place in my heart, as at the tender age of 14, this is where I saw my first rock concert – Push Push (you can stop laughing now). I guess it’s just the capacity issue as to why more bands don’t play there. Even my date – Dave – said he wished he could play at more venues like that.

In reality, my photos and videos aren’t a match for what the professionals took on the night – plus I was too busy singing and grooving. The NZ Herald and Stuff have great reviews of the show, plus TV3 News has this interview footage and extended concert footage, while here is Breakfast’s Interview (TVNZ). Time Out also had a great interview with Dave, illustrating just what a great guy he really is. There are also loads of You Tube uploads if you really want to see what you missed out on.

If you weren’t already a huge Foo Fighters fans, then you sure as hell should be now. Rock on!

In a nutshell: …. SPEECHLESS (and for me that’s a first!) Truly the most amazing concert I’ve ever experienced. Hat’s off to the entire band, and especially Mr Dave Grohl – “there goes my hero”…

You couldn’t get better NZ publicity for your upcoming album, or have a country eating out of the palm of your hand. Look out for a possible album tour later in the year.


Artful Vines

Sculpture in the Country

Gladstone Vineyard, Carterton

Recently, on a work trip to the Wairarapa, I stumbled across the bi-annual art event ‘Sculpture in the Country’ at Gladstone Vineyard.

This was the third ‘Sculpture in the Country’ event to be held, and the first to have the exterior art on display at a vineyard. Over 45 artists from around the country contributed over 100 sculptures, with visitors able to purchase the exhibition pieces.

Crocodile - Sculpture in the Country

Imagine this lurking beside your lake, although the ducks don't look scared - Crocodile by Carl Gifford

Along with wine (well the sculptures were placed in a vineyard), attendees could also enjoy live music. The event raised money for Wairarapa Women’s Refuge.

I loved the way some of the sculptures were arranged within the natural environment of the Gladstone Vineyard property, especially Crocodile, by Carl Gifford, emerging from the lake.

The sculptures were extremely varied in style and the material used.

Here are photos of some of my favourite sculptures on display:

Roaring Stag - Sculpture in the Country

A clever use  of native driftwood, this sculpture and was very impressive when rounding the bend of the vineyard’s driveway – Roaring Stag by Jack Marsden-Mayer.

Dragonfly - Sculpture in the Country

The wings of this artwork moved in the wind. Odanatas Reprise by Doug Kennedy ($9,990).

Car Sculpture - Sculpture in the Country

Qualis Vita Finis Ita was created by Niko Thomsen. The old car has hundreds of bugs, made from milk steel, crawling over and inside the vehicle. This piece was on sale for $13,000, so I admired from afar, plus it would never have fitted in my suitcase back to Auckland.

Winery Dogs

Every winery should have a dog, and I thought these two were gorgeous.

Art in the trees - Sculpture in the Country

Hells Bells ($1,150) was created by J & R Nott/Hassall. Strung up between two trees, the bells tinkled in the wind.

Cork Sculpture

I’m imagining this would be from a very large bottle of Bubbles. After Dinner Play, made from wood and steel by Doug Kennedy ($5,000).

Bull Sculpture

An intricate work of barbed wire and steel from artist, Brett Harman, created Hurricane ($14,000).

Chair Sculpture

Chairs balancing between the vines, made from zinc and granite. The Opposeat by Ben Beemsterboer.

Jigsaw Art

Stueart Welsh used Corten Steel to create this giant jigsaw piece, called Piece of Sky.

In a nutshell: Wine, music, food and art. A lovely way to discover the Wairarapa.