I Saw the Ghost of Monet…

One of the driving forces behind The Culture Project was a desire to recognise and understand allusions to historic works, whether they be art, literature or music, when I stumbled across them, and recently I stumbled across the ‘ghost’ of Impressionist artist Claude Monet apparently engrossed in his work beside the lily pond at Wanganui’s Virginia Lake. Continue reading “I Saw the Ghost of Monet…”


Treasure Trove: Watership Down

If I’ve given the impression that The Culture Project is some kind of self-imposed curriculum in which I’ve driven myself to slave over dry, boring material, then the Treasure Trove is my effort to correct that idea. The Culture Project isn’t a curriculum, it’s an exploration of that foreign country which we call the past and the continuation of those traditions in the present day through the lens of art, Continue reading “Treasure Trove: Watership Down”

Poet Profile: Gerard Manley Hopkins

I did say yes
O at lightning and lashed rod;
Thou heardst me truer than tongue confess
Thy terror, O Christ, O God;
Thou knowst the walls, altar and hour and night:
The swoon of a heart that the sweep and the hurl of thee trod
Hard down with a horror of height:
And the midriff astrain with leaning of,
laced with fire of stress…

With a mercy that outrides
The all of water, an ark
For the listener; for the lingerer with a love glides
Lower than death and the dark;
A vein for the visiting of the past-prayer, pent in prison,
The-last-breath penitent spirits – the uttermost mark
Our passion-plunged giant risen,
The Christ of the Father compassionate,
Fetched in the storm of his strides…

(Excerpt from Hopkins, ‘The Wreck of the Deutschland’)

Continue reading “Poet Profile: Gerard Manley Hopkins”

Wine Profile: Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon Blanc (c) Wine Folly.
Sauvignon Blanc (c) Wine Folly.

In the 1980s New Zealand burst onto the international wine scene with crisp, aromatic Sauvignon Blanc from the Marlborough region at the top of the South Island. It was good. Really good, and thus New Zealand’s international wine industry was born. Continue reading “Wine Profile: Sauvignon Blanc”

Learning to Look at a Painting

‘– a day of dappled seaborne clouds.
The phrase and the day and the scene harmonised in a chord. Words… Did he then love the rhythmic rise and fall of words better than their associations of legend and colour? Or was it that, being as weak of sight as he was shy of mind, he drew less pleasure from the reflection of the glowing sensible world through the prism of a language manycoloured and richly storied than from the contemplation of an inner world of individual emotions mirrored perfectly in a lucid supple periodic prose?’ – James Joyce, ‘A Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Man’

Continue reading “Learning to Look at a Painting”

Poet Profile: Wilfred Owen

‘Was it for this the clay grew tall?
– O what made fatuous sunbeams toil
To break earth’s sleep at all?’

(Wilfred Owen, ‘Futility’)

In 1914, Europe and her dominions became embroiled in the most terrible and destructive war the world had ever seen. Continue reading “Poet Profile: Wilfred Owen”

Wine Profile: Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon, (c) Wine Folly

The Culture Project started with a glass of Australian Cabernet Sauvignon (2010 Wyndham Estate Bin 444). Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the eighteen ‘Noble Grapes’, the widely-grown grape varietals which together are considered to represent the entire range of wine from crisp whites to deep, dark reds. Cabernet Sauvignon (or Cab. Sav. in common New Zealand parlance) is definitely one of the latter. Continue reading “Wine Profile: Cabernet Sauvignon”

Defining Classical Music

What do we mean by Classical music? Is it the music of the past, before the world of recording studios and radio transmission? Is it music with the enduring capacity to become ‘a classic’? Is it (as those who formally codify these things have it) the music of the ‘Classical Period’ of approximately 1750 to 1825? Is it the music of the highbrow, the elite, and the snobs? Continue reading “Defining Classical Music”