Artists in residence ‘transported’

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Awe-inspiring views, friendly neighbours and dramatic weather are “like being transported to heaven” for the latest artists in residence at Henderson House, author Kate De Goldi and her husband, photographer Bruce Foster.

De Goldi said the residency was “like nothing else” and stimulated their imaginations.

“I woke up the other morning and had four ideas in a row.”

With the comfort of a “fantastic house” the experience was like “being lifted out of your life” and it felt very hassle-free for the pair, she said.

A source of interest for De Goldi was investigating the library that included books from the time the house was a family home.

“It is like viewing the life and the curiosities of a mid-twentieth century keen reader,” she said.

“They feel like a little clue to the family.”

The creative process for her usually came incrementally when two or three ideas connected with each other.

Working around other commitments like having children could still be useful, and ideas that were able to “marinate” often made them better, she said.

An example was an idea that began nine years ago, while staying with a friend, who said he was taking a cockatoo to the vet because it was constipated.

That was a “pretty irresistible” idea and it connected with other thoughts she had been having to begin to form into a story.

“Writing is an act of exploration, so you only know a little bit and then you explore it,” she said.

For photographer Foster, the main focus of his work for about 10 years had been environmental themes.

Through both photography and video he had explored issues including climate change, the effects of waste on natural environments and sustainability.

While filming a video for the Ministry for the Environment on sustainability he learned of some “pretty unsustainable farming practices” through discussion with researchers about different modes of farming.

He also was part of “The Water Project” – an exhibition commissioned by Ashburton Art Gallery and on display at the Canterbury Museum.

He was one of 13 artists who used painting, sculpture, video and photography to highlight the community’s relationship with water.

Foster had a long relationship with Central Otago, and had been photographing in the area for about 35 years.

“I used to photograph for The Listener, and the South Island was my beat.”

Foster said the “huge expansive windows” and large space around the house “allowed thoughts to fly off more readily” without being hemmed in.

Like goldfish growing to the size of the bowl they were in, thoughts could “really expand here”.