Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Quirky places

There are some quirky places in the middle of Dunedin's CBD which I enjoy just visiting every so often. One of them is a house that most people wouldn't know was there. It's hidden behind the terrace houses in Stuart St. There are two ways to access it: via an alleyway beside the restaurant, A Cow Called Bertha, and the other through the basement of the old library. I wandered into the library this lunchtime, went down the stairs into the basement (where virtually the only public toilet in the library used to be in the old days), stopped and had a look at the great cloth artwork showing the history of the Adult Literacy Movement in Dunedin, (they now have rooms where one of my early ISPs used to be: earthlight.co.nz), and then went out into the courtyard that's in front of the house I was talking about above. It's quite an open area - when my son flatted in the house some years ago, he and I used to sit in the sun in the courtyard sometimes. It's a great suncatcher - when there is any sun! (Today's gloomy, but at least it's not windy like it has been for the last couple of days. The wind was utterly bitter, and suddenly blew itself out about morning tea time this morning.)
My son flatted at one point with a young fellow who was doing a medical degree, and on the side had set up his own ISP: hyper.net.nz. I was persuaded to join this ISP, which I was happy to do as Ihug in those days was having real problems with customer service. I went from almost no customer service to service on tap. I was running the shop in Princes St then, just along from the Octagon, and if I needed help I'd just ring up the young fellow (whose name I've now forgot) and he'd hop around and fix it in a couple of minutes.
The house itself is a very dark place: gets no sun at all in most of the rooms.

The other quirky spot is the old Masonic building in Moray Place where Temple Gallery is now situated. I always feel a bit odd going there. Whether it's the leftover stuff from the Masonic days or what I never know, but it has a bit of a creepy feeling to me.
You go up a steep flight of stone steps in a garden that in the summer is abundant, up a steep path and then have a choice of more path or more steps. The building stands above you as though it was going to topple over while you were climbing.
Inside, the stairs leading up to the main gallery are highly polished, and at least two of them are almost invisible to the naked eye: I've missed them both at different times, either going up or coming down. (The Public Art Gallery has one of these 'invisible' steps as well.)
The main gallery is a large room lit by skylights that don't let much of the outside light through. The paintings are usually lit by a series of soft spotlights, adding to the general air of gloom. Today there's a bunch of large paintings by a female artist whose name has also gone from my mind, though her style is familiar. They consist of ferocious feline-women, many in bridal gowns. There are teeth and claws in evidence everywhere, and in several of the paintings a large horse, sometimes intact, sometimes with his rib-cage showing through his skin. The women are sometimes skeletal as well. Can't say they're my favourite paintings, but they're well put together.

The photo of Temple Gallery comes from this site.
hyper.net.nz was taken over by Orcon at some stage in its existence - which is why Orcon is now my ISP.
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