1. Why did you get involved on the committee?
Baden got me interested. My partner Roy and I were caretakers at the old museum and we lived on the top floor. Plus, there were so many amazing stories to tell and a fascinating collection. It was hard to resist. After the earthquakes, I was excited by the opportunity of developing a new museum for Lyttelton and keen to be involved.
2. What’s your background and skills?
I was a Curator at Canterbury Museum for over 15 years. Specifically, I looked after the historic picture collections – photographs, paintings, architectural plans and movie film but I was involved with a range of projects across the museum, such as setting up the electronic collection management system, developing new collection stores, and numerous exhibitions, large and small. I also have a PhD in Antarctic Studies, with a focus on photography during the early expeditions led by Scott and Shackleton. These days I work freelance on exhibition and collection projects and also spend quite a lot of my time designing and writing eLearning.
3. The best exhibition you’ve ever seen and where?
I was recently at MTG in Napier, and was impressed by the way they tell the story of local iwi. Taonga and stories from distant history and recent times are presented side by side, describing a strong and resilient community with proud and enduring traditions. For example, wooden carvings dating back hundreds of years sit alongside WWI era watercolours, and visitors are welcomed to the exhibition by a contemporary waiata performed on a large video screen.
4. Your favourite object from the Lyttelton Museum collection and why?
It would have to be the red stone head (2983.1) from Sumner Road, carved by a prisoner at Lyttelton Gaol, in the 1860s I think. The carver’s attempt to create something beautiful in what must have been a harsh environment is poignant. I don’t know what instructions he was given, but I wonder whose face he thought of as he carved – his wife? Mother? Sister? The carving is weather-beaten now and most of the facial features have been worn away by the wind. To my mind this makes it even more interesting, thinking of it sitting beside the road for all those years watching new arrivals to Canterbury making their first journey over the hill from Lyttelton, and seeing the pace of commercial traffic increase as the port and the city took shape.