Sometimes New Zealand seems to be such a small place that you appear to know every second person who lives here....virtually. Just check out the friends of the friends you have on Facebook, and you'll find that you really are only two degrees away from many well-known people, or from a host of other NZeders.
I'm always getting invitations (though not often via invitationbox.com party invitations) to link up with somebody who seems unfamiliar until I discover they know people I also know - and it's sometimes a surprise to find which of my friends know each other.
And then on another day, you discover someone you've never heard of, someone, that you ought, you think, to have heard of.
TVNZ 7, which focuses strongly on the artistic community in New Zealand, (and which we've only been able to access since we got Freeview included with the new telly) is great for bringing the names of artists in front of you who are quite unfamiliar. (Or, as in a piece yesterday, where they talked about the thriving comicbook community in NZ; thriving in the sense of there being plenty of people working at it, and interested in it, but not in the sense of it being a lucrative area to work in.)
Or in another situation entirely, you meet someone who again ought to be familiar, you'd expect, and isn't. (We had the privilege of having artistic neighbours who ran their own gallery when we were young parents, so we became familiar with a lot of up and coming NZ names and works then.)
I came across the NZ artist, Allie Eagle, (not to be confused with the American artist, Ellen Eagle) who was at a conference I attended yesterday. "Attended" in the sense that I went to the morning sessions, and the first half of the afternoon, and then had had enough of sitting and went home, getting soaked in the rain in the process. Having had enough of a conference before it's half finished is normal with me these days: I can't sit comfortably for that long, and my concentration goes mid-afternoon...
I'd never heard of Allie Eagle at all, that I can remember, but the short introduction to her art - and to herself - yesterday was plenty enough to make me want to know more. [The photo shows her in front of a work she produced for the Waitakere City Council’s chamber building in 2007.] Eagle was strongly (and angrily) involved with the women's movement in the 70s, but has moved some of her thinking around in the last number of years. I warmed to her as a person and an artist. She often works collaboratively these days (using the 'atelier' method of employing other artists to work on different sections of large works - see the article the photo accompanied) and is doing a series of portraits of men, getting to know each individual sitter in a detailed way.
A 54-minute DVD has also been made about her life and art and is available through her website.
I didn't have the money on me yesterday to get a copy, but I think I will.