Thursday, December 16, 2010

Santa Baby...

With the Christmas and the New Year coming up shortly I pondered my last post for 2010. Should it chronicle the highs and lows of my year? If you are a follower of this blog you’ll know all of those, and if you don’t, trawl back and have a gander through the past 12 months of the creative life of Fifi. I won’t spend any more time rehashing the already blogged. There is only one more thing I’d add to my news and that is: the stars have aligned and I have achieved the never before made possible- a Creative New Zealand Grant. And just in the nick of time. Now I can look forward to making a damn fine job of illustrating an ANZAC book by David Hill in 2011 free of irritating how to pay the power bill and buy groceries for the week. Because it’s been a lean old year in our household, as it has been for many New Zealanders.

Which brings me to Christmas and the worship of Santa, the patron saint of Advertising. Now that we have adult children (the last teen turned 20 this week), we are spared the pressure of ridiculous over consumption at the most financially precarious season. How have we managed this? This weaning off consumerism? Simple. They’ve both flatted this year and have really understood the meaning of cash flow. Its Pam’s and Budget everything and they have a distinct appreciation of what is absolutely necessary to live. Food, shelter and washing powder are critical, iPhones are not. Our son has put in a vegetable garden at his flat. Our daughter made a sandwich each day to take to Uni. Clothes come from op-shops (much more groovy than high street) and walking is a healthier and cheaper option than catching the bus. They both work as well as study. There’s no expectation and lots of appreciation for when we are able to treat them to things. They’ve grown up. It’s lovely.

Ten years ago I wrote the above poem for Next Magazine for my monthly column. Our daughter was still a child. Take heart if the wish list pinned to your fridge trails down and across the floor tripping you up as you reach for the visa card. They do change; especially if you don’t indulge every whim for fear of pouting. 

Have a safe and happy Christmas, and let’s welcome the new decade in as one of positive change, growth and abundance.Love to all who read my blog and give me such positive feedback, may your hopes and dreams become reality xxx Fifi

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

The Artist's Studio

some of my workspaces through the ages...

 I’m on the move again...with my studio space that is.

I have projects for 2011 that require much time input right now but won’t output anything in the way of income until sometime in the future, so it’s time to review the financial sense of having a space for which the rent is becoming a tiresome burden. Added to that, now that the kids have gone flatting, it seems ludicrous to have not one but two guest bedrooms, when in the past guests were happy enough to sleep on the lounge floor in our deluxe airbed. So, in the grand tradition of making your son’s bedroom into a sewing room, I am making his into my studio. It has a wooden floor (good for paint spills), great light and a view out to Lyall Bay where I can see the waves twinkling in the distance which is important for me because I hate feeling landlocked. Plus my espresso machine is at home, and my husband and I can share the phone and broadband as we keep each other company in our freelance work. The cat will be ecstatic; I’m far more generous with feline appreciation than my SO is.

So, I am given pause to think about my studios over the years, and how they reflect my stages of life and development in my career. So, if you are interested, read on, if not, just look at the pictures. This is a long post, so sit down with a coffee sometime when you aren’t too busy...

0- 20: The Formative Years
My bedroom: this included sharing with my sister who was more interested in outdoor adventures than arty farty things. When we moved to New Zealand (I was 8) I saved all my drawings and because we were renting at the time and weren’t allowed to stick things on the wall, I pinned my pictures to sticks of bamboo and stood them upright so I had a gallery of sorts. Later when we had a house, I had a huge wardrobe that I filled to the brim with bags of feathers, felt and saved packaging ready to transform into art and craft.
Later still as a design student and in yet another house, my father made me a fold down drawing board in my small bedroom so I could work on assignments on somewhere other than the dining table after tea. I also spent long hours at Polytech working late into the evening at the desk space allotted me. We each had our own and in the 3rd year were given partition walls each to make our desks into tiny studios. We were queens and kings of our own workspaces.

20-27: The Eager Years
My flat bedroom - not so good for bringing clients into. It was soon clear I would need something else. The first was a space in Christchurch’s Hereford St in an old building that was fairly deserted on my floor. I had small space at first then negotiated with the landlord for a larger one. My first celebration of it was to invite all the Advertising Agency creatives for a party so they could see where I was and use me. I possibly served Pink Chardon and chippies. Everyone came- it was a blast! I had fun times in that studio, gathering together other artists for life drawing sessions and creating theatre posters, brochures and mastering airbrushing skills which would become my main form of trade. I got tired after a while of being by myself on that lonely 3rd floor though and when Murray Freeth, an animator said the box room was available to rent in Salisbury St at Orly Productions, I moved in. It was the 80’s, and my husband was now working at Saatchi & Saatchi. We went out drinking and partying a lot. I wore huge shoulder pads, had more work than I could handle and was working in TV as craft presenter on What Now too. But human nature being what it is, and biological clocks ticking early, I embarked upon motherhood. Because having children wouldn’t change my life would it? No, a baby would gurgle and smile at me in the corner whilst I got on with my work.

27- 36: The Sleepless Years
If I thought I was busy before, I barely slept now. I tutored at Polytech, performed on TV, illustrated and became a committee member for everything from Plunket to illustration communities. I worked from home in the spare bedroom of our little cottage, until the lack of space for work and more babies necessitated a house move. Once again in the new house I worked in the spare bedroom until the babies; now children, needed rooms of their own. So we did a ridiculous thing. We purpose built a studio onto the house (not a shed in the back garden), spent a fortune on landscaping and redecorating...then moved to Wellington.

36- 40: The Juggling Years
Not knowing if I would find a community back in Wellington to ease into (how silly- Wellington is the best place to do this!) I took up an offer of a studio in Courtenay Place with fellow illustrators Debe Mansfield and Ruth Paul. We had fun! We gossiped, drank coffee, smoked illicit cigarettes out the window and generally behaved like schoolgirls, whilst churning out illustration for design, advertising and publishing. I had to rush off to pick up kids at the most inconvenient of moments; usually when the girls suggested drinks at one of the many bars round the corner. I formed a lasting attachment to those women and when babies arrived for them and I had itchy feet, the studio was waved farewell and I worked from home for a short while before our family headed off to England.

41-43: The Wandering Years
Packing up my studio and rationalising my art materials down to what would fit into a Pooh Bear lunchbox, I worked from the dining table in our basement flat in Bristol. I bought a portable drawing board on which I illustrated two books for Huia Publishing back home and my monthly column in Next magazine. I made wearable art. We travelled and I painted in visual diaries and on our return to NZ, my studio was wherever I could find space in the kitchen. 

44-47: The Dissatisfied Years
Fed up with battling the family for space to work, I took space at The Production Village in Mt Cook with a bunch of other illustrators. It was great until I was too distracted (I have a huge tendency to chat). So I moved into another studio in Tory St with a great and old friend. But the space was too ‘officy’ and the parking an issue. I finished writing a novel in there then moved back home; which drove me bananas.  If you think small children are distracting, try teenagers.

48-50: The Free at Last Years
The cottage at the Production Village came up for rent. So I took it. It cost me a comparative fortune but with at times 2 studio mates to ease the rent, made it possible. In that time and space I have made 2 WOW pieces (one award winning), created artworks for 3 solo exhibitions, run workshops, co- convened the planning for a highly successful conference, launched my last novel, made inroads on my new one, made dozens of plaster cupcakes for sale, created pieces for my regular spot on the Good Morning Show...then ran away and worked on The Hobbit Movie.

Ironically, the one time the studio rent was really affordable was when I wasn’t there, but in Miramar for a time. So back at home I am once again, with no distractions from children, my old wooden plan file and drawing board have come with me. It’s almost full circle, except that I’m not working out of my bedroom. Work spaces can be big or small; they can be purpose built or converted from a chook house. I’ve found after 30 years in the creative arts, it doesn’t really matter where you work from, because what counts is being excited about what you are doing. For me, that’s the large illustration project I am ready to start in the New Year, another piece of Wearable Art, the author visits to schools I do, the fun things I make on Good Morning, and the two novels I will finish writing; all from Hataitai, a very handy spot 5 minutes from town.

Sorry, we will not be renting out the house for the rugby World Cup.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Stirred but not too shaken

I had a great weekend down in Christchurch for a friends 60th birthday. I caught up with friends and family, thrillingly experienced a small aftershock (a Wellingtonian is saying this...nuts!) and went to see the Ron Mueck Exhibition.This is a pic of me looking at the giant newborn which gives you a sense of scale. If you haven’t been to see these extraordinary works, then book a cheap airfare and go. Do not miss it... and don’t be put off by that quake business.

Yes, there are houses with cracks and held together with ropes but there are houses totally unaffected. There are empty spaces where buildings have gone and then standing surprises like Shands Emporium (built 1866) where my favourite vintage clothing shop, Tête à Tête was mercifully undisturbed and doing a brisk, friendly and super helpful trade. But apart from some busy cafes and the selling of vintage corsets, things were pretty quiet retail-wise in the city centre. The locals seem pretty fed up with the state of things; the limbo that remains after a civil disaster in the midst of a recession. And it doesn’t help Christchurch if you stay away.

Whilst there, I went to a mall to buy a birthday card and it was packed to the gunnels with tinkly Christmas music and the overpowering smell of muggy people and stale food halls. I couldn’t wait to get out of it. This isn’t the Christchurch that I knew and loved in the 80’s and 90’s when we lived there. If you shut your eyes and opened them again you could be in St Lukes, Westfield or any of the cloned soul-less malls that dominate retail. Thank God Wellington is so geographically compromised that we adhere happily to a few well trod mainstreets in the heart of the city, leaving the malls to far flung satellite cities. It’s what keeps a city alive and kicking.

So, go to Christchurch but go to the heart of it. Go the art galleries, the markets, the art centre and the old eclectic parts that still remain and defied the earthquake. Go and spend your Christmas budget there on presents, eat in the cafes, enjoy the coffee, go and see the deliciously decadent Cabaret at the Court Theatre. That’s the way you can help, far more so than ticking a ‘like’ box on facebook. And go to the launch of a new book by Gavin Bishop and Diana Noonan (two of my oldest and favourite colleagues with my most supportive publisher) of Quaky Cat- authors doing their bit to help in the very best way possible.

 Thats all for this week, cheers Fifi :)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Into the future with a book about the past

I'm getting quite desperate to start on illustrating a book in the new year for Scholastic. This requires that I will need to cease my job on The Hobbit, because there isn't a way that one can spend 10 hours a day at one illustration job and squeeze another 10 hours a day into another. little time, so much to do! Such opportunitites of varying financial you take the gold now and stop building a personally developed nest for the future? Or starve whilst creating your magnum opus that may or may not reap dividends. The work I'm doing on the film  will never have my name on it and at the end of the day I am a hired hand (literally, my hand is paid to render). I guess you have to go where your heart and soul is and as I said, I am quite desperate to start on that book and I intend for it to be a work of exquisit art. The pastel study I've attached here is a preliminary sketch- it won't appear in the book but will give you a feel for where I am heading with it. I hope it will touch the hearts of its audience because the story has certainly touched mine.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Secrets Revealed!

Want to know the tricks and tips of seasoned speakers? In particular, how to manage an audience of under 13 year olds, their teachers and the kid with ADHD... come to the WCBA clubnight at The Library Bar on Courtenay Place next Tuesday at 7pm. I'll be there- in fact, I'll be speaking! Dessert are 2 for the price of one, so bring a friend :)

Tuesday, November 02, 2010


 the original, airbrushed, non digital illustration

Well The Hobbit is here to stay and we are all happy here at work as we power ahead. Unfortunately I can’t tell you anything about that because well, you know the drill; confidentiality and all that... But I can tell you that my Photoshop skills have improved out of sight. Nothing like doing something for 10 hours a day to make you really good at it (now if only I could apply that to my novel writing...)
I sit at my monitor layering colours and textures and pause to marvel at how far I have come technology wise. Having been trained as an illustrator back in the computer free days and witnessing the arrival of such marvels like fax machines (my first one cost me $1,800 and that was with a dodgy deal- tell me can you even give them away now?) I thought old dogs would find new tricks hard work. And they are and it requires courage to learn and then to execute them. How far does a painterly poodle have to jump?

I’m now onto my 3rd laptop and 4th  latest version of Photoshop and with my new Android phone I can email, blog, tweet, sync, upload, download, file share and store my histories somewhere in cyberspace. My grown children tell me to get off facebook...but it wasn’t an easy personal upgrade.

Back in, oh, 1994 or so, I saw a sign up at our local copy shop ‘Learn Photoshop, night classes here!’
I knew the writing (or illustration) was on the wall for me as younger graduates emerged from Design school with this knowledge under their belts and ready to rock. It was time for me to take the plunge and up-skill. When freelancing this is always done in your own time at your own expense; no company training sessions with morning tea thrown in. 

I asked at the counter if it was suitable for beginners ‘like real beginners who have never even turned on a computer?’ Obviously they thought I was prone to hyperbole and assured me it was. Little did they know, I wasn’t exaggerating in the least. I didn’t own a computer, never had and was reluctant to forked out thousands of dollars for a Mac (back than you had to mortgage your house to buy one). So off I went one Tuesday night and sat down in front of a screen. We were asked to open a file and I looked around for a manila folder. You can see where this is heading can’t you?

I’ll spare you blow by blow agony of my evening except to say that the last straw came when following the cursor on screen, my hand slipped off the edge of the desk.
                ‘Excuse me,’ I said, ‘my mouse pad isn’t big enough.’
People snorted as the tutor came and showed me how to move the mouse with small flicks of the wrist. I sat red faced, crying on the inside and then, looking at my watch, declared my babysitter was waiting and I had to go. Mustering up the shreds of my dignity, I packed up, walked out, got in the car and burst into tears. I cried all the way home, all over my husband and all over my drawing board, convinced that I must be the only illustrator in the business who was a dinosaur. I wrote this poem for Next Magazine the very next day.


'Drag me into the nineties' I said,
Before the decade is out,
Teach me about computers and stuff,
So my cred is left in no doubt.

Before you could say 'digitize it',
They signed me up for a course,
If a P.C was water to drink from,
It follows that I was the horse.

'Lead me to it', I cried with glee,
Not knowing my RAM from my ROM,
Then I was asked to open a file,
But where had the cabinet gone?

As mouses clicked (I thought they squeaked),
The others were having a ball,
I realised, then, like School Cert Math's,
I shouldn't have been there at all.

Shamed as I am by my ignorance,
I know that two things remain true;
Photoshop's where I buy my film,
And Windows just let the light through.

Digital illustration, now, I can do. Program the DVD player? Nah, but then, that’s what your kids are for...

Monday, October 04, 2010

Lucky Lucky Me…

'A Great Hand' Velvet by Fifi

September and the very start of October have been pretty amazing I have to say…

Today I won a prize…yes another one (I hear you say). In the Get Set Create event at Te Papa.  More about that later….

It’s easy for a blog to become a brag; a nauseating list of fabulous things that have been achieved and pretty soon people turn off, just a quickly as they do from extended whinges about how life is or isn’t. You can use a blog as an online diary or as a marketing tool. Either can be helpful or destructive depending on who reads your postings. I have a few followers and my blog gets visited a by around a hundred people a day.  Many of those people are stumbling upon my site because for instance, I have posted a picture about a mermaid and they are looking for sirens. They might stop awhile, read, and move on. Or equally flick onto the next image found on google. This post is for the people who read what I have to write.

So I’ll tell you a story… it is about fame, fortune and serendipity and how it has come to play in my life recently.

So…I’m 50. Apparently you should never tell people your age. What bollocks. I'm proud to be 50 and still alive and kicking given my mispent youth and later inhalation of too many dangerous chemicals through my pursuit of art (read Costumes and Chemisty for a wake up call!)

But on my birthday I wondered what I had worked my arse off all these years for.  I gather that’s quite a common thought, and yes, I thought it. For the past year, all my endeavours had come to nothing. Yes really, nothing. I’d put into my communities without expectation of reward, I’d created artworks of magnificence, I’d been a good and loyal freelancer to my clients (I think). So why was I so broke, so underemployed and why were all the opportunities going to everyone else? To be honest I was finding it hard to drag myself out of bed in the mornings, to sit in my studio creating more projects that might fly high one day when the wind was right. I was fed up and said so. On facebook.

One person who listened was another artist who has great insights and honesty in her posts. To her, I stopped doing the marketing and self promotion. To her I was brutally honest about how I was about my world- the one that seemed to be laughing in my face. This by the way is the experience of pretty much everyone at some stage- feeling forsaken.  It takes different forms and occurs at different times in your life, so I am aware it is a frame of mind. But for me at that time it felt like all my worlds had shut me out.

So, my facebook friend said if it would help she would send me a Good Luck coin from a Buddhist Temple she’d been to in Taipei. It is a place people go to pray or give thanks for abundance. She thought I didn’t need it and didn’t hold much with icons, but if I thought it would make a difference she was happy to post it from far away. I said yes because I had truly tried everything else and nothing was working. When you haven’t bought new clothes for a year, restrict yourself to one take out coffee a week, cancel the papers and the electricity bill is looking like an insurmountable hurdle, you know you are feeling the pinch. See, if this blog was purely about marketing, I’d never have said that…

So she sent it, and the day after it was posted I got my job interview. And then I got the job, illustrating for the film industry. And I adore it. Then I won at WOW and have had great coverage in the media. Now it looks like the Chinese rights to my last novel may have been sold (is my publisher saying shut up Fi!?). Today I took part in the challenge at Te Papa I mentioned up front, pitted against two former Supreme Award Winners, a kind of Masterchef meet Project Runway in a 1 hour stage challenge…and I won.  I got a goody bag of all kinds of marvellous things including generous voucher to Hippotamus, the fine dining restaurant at The Museum Hotel.

So, did the coin make the difference? Probably not. I had someone pushing me forward for the job, the WOW creation was made in June, my novel was published last year and today I was in good company and I had a great model. So what was it? It really comes down to this: people who believe in you, allow you to believe in yourself. No matter who you are. Sometimes you just need to re-open the portal, and if a talisman does the job, then thats all fine by me. And I give thanks, every day.

Talking of believing in people, there are some stunning young writers in the Fabostory project. Check out Andy Xie’s entry this week. Boy, we’ve got some tough competition ahead of us… better keep rubbing that lucky coin!

Sunday, September 26, 2010


“The best things in life are unexpected - because there were no expectations.” Eli Khamarov

So, now that the World of Wearable Arts spectacular is showing and my artful cat is out of its bag, I can finally tell you about my entry, Lady Curiosity, which won 3rd place in the Avant Garde section on Friday night. I'd also like to say that there are no givens with this competition, so I enter each year from the love of the idea I want to impart, not from an expectation of winning something- because the minute you create from that part of your brain, you sink into an unattractive swamp of greed, pride, envy and anger when you don't get up on that stage. That I got to go up there myself was a joy and given my competition, a great acknowledgement. There is a huge talent pool of artists in WOW.

So, to my entry- the 17th one over 15 years, all of them in show.This was my rationale submitted with the garment way back in June when the deadline for entries is nigh...

Lady Curiosity

Her tattooing is of itself a beautiful dress, and her collection full of wonders.

Tattooed ladies were a popular circus attraction of the late 19th century; a peep show within a freak show. But it was not only performers who took to the art; ladies of society indulged too.
When I read New Zealand author, Rachael King’s novel  Magpie Hall I was inspired by her Victorian gothic elements of tattoos, taxidermied collections and a possible flayed woman. A Cabinet of Curiosities and its odd contents was something the fated Dora in the book had to contend with. Ultimately it was to be her downfall … her Memento Mori (you HAVE to read this book!)

I created the cabinet with the well known mirror box illusion known amongst magicians. Where is the lady’s middle? She is merely full of curiosities in jars. The botanical illustrations are from Vintage Printable, the cabinet illustrations from ‘A Century of NZ Trademarks’.  Her tattoos come from all over, some from friends, others referenced from Sailor Jerry, the famous tattooist of his time who created blueprints for hundreds of flash designs. The heart tattoo in the middle of Dora’s breast belongs to a writer I know- it seemed appropriate that the story should begin with one author and end with another.

*Memento mori is a Latin phrase translated as "Remember you must die". It names a genre of artistic creations that vary widely from one another, but which all share the same purpose: to remind people of their own mortality.

So if you like what I did and want a chance to win some great prizes for yourself, vote for my piece in the Dominion Post People’s Choice at  or text WOW Lady Curiosity to 3100 (costs .20c)

And now...back to work. 

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Of fame and fortune

Well, I’ve done the unimaginable; I have got a full time job.  10 hours a day at a location in Wellington where I actually get paid to do something I was trained for- illustration.

This is amazing to me, because the very nature of the life as an illustrator is freelance and a little precarious. That is not to say that this role won’t be either- I’m working on pre-production for a movie and for as long as it takes or as long as they need me, I will be there, pencil and wacom tablet in hand . This is solace to me after a year where everything workwise I tried to instigate seemed to come to nothing and increasingly people expected me to give generously of my working hours for free. Not that I don’t like to be philanthropic you understand… but this recession has hit our household particularly badly and I just can’t do it anymore.

So, whilst I can’t tell you what I am drawing, post pictures of my work or tell you who I meet, I can say it feels wonderful to be fully employed in the creative arts on a daily basis. I fully expect there will be a time where I yearn to hole up in my studio, talk to no-one and get on with my other pursuits; the two novels half finished that possibly no-one will want to publish when they are done, the picture book ideas that need further work that possibly (repeat the previous line), the painting collections that possibly (repeat again), the e-book on creativity that possibly (yawn…) you see the pattern? But for now, I’ve stopped facebooking obsessively, expending energy on committees to further other’s careers, tweeting, emailing and wondering why it is that I have even less paying freelance work than ever.

There is a great deal of satisfaction in getting your work out there and seeing your name in print, but there is even more in buying groceries and paying the power bill. I am very happy for now to put aside fame for fortune.

In the meantime (and I did say I’d be talking about WOW obsessively for the next two weeks), go and check out my 2005 piece from WOW, Sophia’s Story, at Ora in Allen Street. And whilst you are there, I recommend you have something from their wonderful café- great coffee, great gluten free food and all around you, great New Zealand art. See, the promosexual side of me hasn’t left the room completely!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

WOW leather

I'm now going to fill up my blog with WOW for the next month! Tis a passion of mine...and somewhat of an obsession. Luckily people share it with me and Konev Leather is no exception. In fact they are going to have one of my pieces in their Wellington shop window from Tuesday next week.

'Love is Temporary Madness' was inspired by the wonderful 'Captain Corelli's Mandolin' (the book is wonderful, the movie was rubbish- go read the book). The quote above says it all. The Bizarre Bra I made is below. If you are in town go check out the window at Konev in Featherston St... and then go in and drink in the leather. They know their art...

Thursday, August 26, 2010

WOW 2010

Kanugi Kodama- back detail

Well August is just about shot to pieces and that means September is nigh, which brings the calendar into sharp focus for me because... yes it's Wearable Art month. I have my 17th piece in show this year. And I can't tell you ANYTHING about it except that it was inspired by a New Zealand Author's excellent novel. I can't show you pictures, I can't tell you what I made it out of because it would spoil the show otherwise. But I CAN tell you that once the show opens I will plaster it all over my blog! So you'll have to wait until the 23rd September.

In the meantime I can show you some working drawings (because I think it is always interesting to see the process) and photo of my piece from last year- Kanugi Kodama which will be on display at the Welllington Botanical Gardens (in the Treehouse) during the Spring Festival.

There are often a few pieces of wearable art around the Capital in shop windows where you can see pieces up close and personal which is a fantastic opportunity to see how things have been made and out of what- especially if you are thinking of entering the show yourself. Kanugi Kodama was made from recyled kimonos from 'Made in Nippon' on Courtenay Place. I'll also be showing how I made it on the Good Morning Show- so keep watching TV1 on Tuesdays around 9.30am from September 7th.

Kanugi Kodama- working drawings

Kanugi Kodama- photo courtesy of WOW

Monday, August 23, 2010

Fabo again!

Well the secret is was me who was the mystery author for last week. We got a good response from fabo kids all over NZ vying for the top prize- which is the one featured here- a signed egg carton bull terrier with snappable jaws (read the story) and a copy of my book 'Glory' and a badge went to Andy Xie; read his story here. 8year old Georgia Fyfe from Maungawhau Primary won the junior section 8 and her story is here.

Get your kids involved- all they have to do is read the chapters to date a feel for the story and write the next installment by Friday- email it to us and they could win books and other cool prizes.

The best 5 writers at the end of the fabostory experiment win mentorship with one of 9 new Zealand Children's Book authors (us). We have prizes for juniors (7-10) and seniors (11-13). High school students are out of the running and so are adults masquerading as talented kids. We are after NZ's next generation of writers!

I want to say a huge personal thank you to Gavin Bishop who illustrated my chapter with a very fine 'frozen' Pit Bull. Each week a famous New Zealand Illustrator heads a chapter. How lucky are we?!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Biting news

In the absence of anything very much to report this week (prizes, publishing deals, general fame and fortune), here's a picture from the archives. I did it for an advertising campaign a few years ago- for a cabling company...all about large Cat cables. It's on canvas and it's BIG- A1 sized on a white background. It is also for sale.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Lianzas's the LIANZA awards tonight and Glory is shortlisted and it would certainly be a touch of Glory irony if I got the Esther Glen so I am not writing an acceptance speech, but AM looking forward to to dinner with all my writing peers, to good times, old times and new times to come. I'm completely honoured to be there, thankyou the librarians of NZ... mwah xxxx

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Fifi who?

There are sometimes great benefits for having an unusual first name. Fifi is not really my given name; I was christened Fiona in a grand Scottish tradition, but have been known as Fifi ever since I tried pronouncing the former as a toddler. I was convinced that I was the only Fifi who was a children’s book illustrator…that is up until a week ago, when Dianne from Nelson contacted me, because of, simply, my name.

“I have a painting by a Fifi Wynn-Williams. It came from my husband's aunt Meg Everton and I even have the bowl to go with it.  I am pretty sure it was painted before 1970 but how much before I don't know.
There is also a children's book called 'Mr Moa' by F Wynn-William given to Meg's mother with the author's complements in 1946. There is also a manuscript for a book called 'The Wonderland of Mr Moa' but I don't know who wrote or illustrated it.  Meg may have written it but it's in child's handwriting so must have been a long time ago as she just died aged 90.  Meg was a well known teacher and Ardmore Training College lecturer in Auckland. 
The manuscript and book are accompanied by a letter from Heinemann Educational Books (NZ) Ltd dated 1976 saying they are sorry they can't publish the manuscript or republish the book (ah…does nothing change 70 years later?)
The Mr Moa book has an article from the NZ Woman's Weekly stuck to the inside cover from 1946  written by a Count Etienne Micard.  He is agreeing with 2 men who protested about the V&A museum in London showing Picasso's "crazy-guying of Mankind".  He says "all the praise and clatter around Picasso's 'surrealism'  can only be explained by the Western world's decadence." (!)
There is also a sentence that has been underlined and 'Fifi' written in the margin:  
 "I wonder if the man in the street would hesitate between the odd naked bodies of Maoris on the wall of the Public Library in Auckland , for instance, and the charming faces of the children in a Shortland Street studio which remind one of Raphael's Jesus?"

Well, we are burning up to know who this other fabulous Fifi is. Can anyone elucidate?