The Land of the Long White Cloud

Karen Langdon


'Girl with Polka Dot Blouse' by Amedeo Modigliani


 Greetings from Aotearoa, which is Maori for the Land of the Long White Cloud, known to the world as New Zealand. Amongst the spiritual people, our land is also called the land of Peace and Healing....

We are the first Country in the world to see the sun rise.

We here in New Zealand live on two islands, one called the North and one called the South -- pretty basic names, I know. We are a multicultural society, with our closest neighbour being Australia. We quite often find that people think we are actually a part of Australia, but we are not !!! And you may offend some if you call us Australians ! We have a healthy sporting rivalry with Australia; and for a small country, we do very well at sports. We have the best rugby team, "The All Blacks;" and, of course, we won "The Americas Cup," yachting's most prized possession. But enough bragging about our sports prowess ...

Living in New Zealand is great ! We have fresh air, and a contrasting landscape that takes your breath away. You can do anything from snow skiing to scuba diving, lie on our lovely beaches or go jet boating on our rivers and lakes. The mountain climbing here is very popular, and the list goes on... We want for nothing here in God's own, which is what it is called by some.

Our news media keep us in touch with what is happening around the world. We know all about other countries, their troubles and their joys, their sports etc .. That is one of the things we are proud of here in New Zealand -- the fact that we know what is going on around the world.

Now I shall tell you a bit about one woman, living in New Zealand. It will be about myself. I am a married women of thirty-five with two girls, eight and nine, so life can be pretty interesting at times!

We live in the South Island of New Zealand, about in the middle, just below the big city of Christchurch. It is a rural area with farming all around. Our township is nice and quiet--a good place to bring up children, I feel. We are only an hour from Christchurch, while an hour to the west are the Great Southern Alps, and to the east we reach the seashore in 20 minutes.

Our weather is great, and we are at present having a nice winter. The mountains have snow for the skiers, but here in town it is mild. We have had a few hard frosts, but mostly lovely warm days. It is almost like spring, in fact. At present the poor bulbs do not know what to do, some that usually bloom in September came up in the end of July. The birds have started to nest early this year, and Mother Earth is making changes. The weather is really strange ...

I work from home, as I did not want my children growing up without a mother here when they came from school. It did take me a while to get a job that suited, but this creating your own realities really works ! I made an intention that I wanted to work from home. It was important to me that I would have time for my web site, and also be able to visit and teach others about what is happening at this exciting time in history. Once I decided what I wanted, I made that my intention, and on my birthday a perfect job appeared in the paper. It is actually true that on my birthday I had several other wishes materialise also, but that is another story ...

Also, getting this job got others off my back. They thought I was lazy, not going out and working. But like I said, I made a choice to have children, and they needed me more than I needed a job. They enjoy every real treat; they appreciate them. And they have Mum at home when they come in from school and need to talk. This may sound old-fashioned, I know. There are some mothers out saying how can I stand being at home all the time. Well, I am not chained to the house, of course. I go out to our Meditation Group at night, and I enjoy doing the odd workshop. I love my gardening also.

I used to do pottery, which I loved. I found that it was really just a key to my creative side which I never knew existed beforehand. A friend got me into it. I did it for three years and did very well both with making pots and drawing designs. I had no idea I could even draw ... let alone make pots !! But with lots of encouragement from friends and hubby, who I might add was always on at me to take drawing lessons. I kept saying no, as I could not draw a straight line, let alone a picture.

After three years I lost interest in my pots when the computer arrived and so did the web site. Designing that web site of mine is what takes up my creative talents these days. I thank those who awakened my talent that was just there waiting to be unlocked.

I am sure some of you out there think, "Boy, I can't draw," etc. I was the same. I came from an uncouraging family, so I had no idea I had all this talent locked inside me ! All of you out there who have been interested in drawing or whatever, all you need is the confidence to do it. If it's something you have always wanted to do, then just do it. The rest will follow...

Well, people that is about it for now, Ka kite ano -- that is Maori for "see you" !

... Karen

Karen Langdon is a young wife, mother, and artist living in Ashburton, New Zealand. She is now also a Web Designer and Editor. Karen believes that we should all explore our creativity and make our own reality.

About the Artist:
Modigliani, Amedeo

TIMELINE: Artistic Emigres

During the early 1900s in Paris, the Italian painter and sculptor Amedeo Modigliani, b. July 12, 1884, d. Jan. 24, 1920, developed a unique style. Today his graceful portraits and lush nudes at once evoke his name, but during his brief career few apart from his fellow artists were aware of his gifts. Modigliani had to struggle against poverty and chronic ill health, dying of tuberculosis and excesses of drink and drugs at the age of 35.
In 1906, Modigliani settled in Paris, where he encountered the works of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Georges Rouault, and Pablo Picasso (in his "blue period") and assimilated their influence, as in The Jewess (1908; private collection, Paris). The strong influence of Paul Cezanne's paintings is clearly evident, both in Modigliani's deliberate distortion of the figure and the free use of large, flat areas of color.
His friendship with Constantin Brancusi kindled Modigliani's interest in sculpture, in which he would continue his very personal idiom, distinguished by strong linear rhythms, simple elongated forms, and verticality. Head (1912; Guggenheim Museum, New York City) and Caryatid (1914; Museum of Modern Art, New York City) exemplify his sculptural work, which consists mainly of heads and, less often, of full figures.
After 1915, Modigliani devoted himself entirely to painting, producing some of his best work. His interest in African masks and sculpture remains evident, especially in the treatment of the sitters' faces: flat and masklike, with almond eyes, twisted noses, pursed mouths, and elongated necks. Despite their extreme economy of composition and neutral backgrounds, the portraits convey a sharp sense of the sitter's personality, as in Moise Kisling (1915; private collection, Milan). A fine example of Modigliani's figure paintings is a reclining Nude (1917; Guggenheim Museum), an elegant, arresting arrangement of curved lines and planes as well as a striking idealization of feminine sexuality.

Modigliani's mannered art
The third great "outsider" among the émigrés in Paris died all too soon. The Italian Amedeo Modigliani destroyed himself through drink and drugs, driven desperate by his poverty and bitterly ashamed of it. Modigliani was a young man of fey beauty, and his work has a wonderful slow elegance that is unusual, but compelling. Through the influence of the Rumanian sculptor Constantin Brancusi, he fell under the spell of primitive sculpture, especially from Africa. He went on to develop a sophisticated, mannered style built upon graceful, decorative arabesques and simplified forms. It is hard for us to imagine why it did not attract patrons. He is famous now for his elegant, elongated nudes, but it is portraits that are the most extraordinary.
Chaim Soutine (1917; 91 x 60 cm (36 x 23 1/2 in)) whose own art was so off-beat, appeals to Modigliani for what he is bodily and for what he could become spiritually. Soutine rears up out of the frame like a gawky pillar. His nose is brutish in its spread, his eyes asymmetrical, his hair a shaggy mess. All this uncouthness is contrasted by his slender wrists and hands, by an impression we have of a man yearning for a homeland, set upon forming one out of his own substance if no place is provided. There is sadness here, but also determination: the thick red mouth is resolutely closed. -----------------------------------------------------------------------
(c) 31 Dec 1995, Nicolas Pioch - Top - Up - Info
Thanks to the BMW Foundation, the WebMuseum mirrors, partners and contributors for their support.