Ramblings of a much published New Zealand author

30 April 2011

New Zealand Odyssey: Tugboat 'Kupe', Wellington Harbour

'New Zealand Odyssey', published in 1989 by Heinemann, was authored by me, Don Donovan (who did the text and illustrations) and Euan Sarginson, who did the photography and design. In this series of blog posts, I will publish some of my drawings.



This is Kupe as it was (and probably still is) in 1987 fussing about on Wellington Harbour. It would push and pull anything - even the world's largest nuclear-powered aircraft carrier if only the government would let one in.

The thing I like about tugboats is that they derive all of their beauty from practicality. Nothing is there for design's sake only and yet they have the same compact attractiveness as a female circus performer! And the colours - perfect!

© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz
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29 April 2011

New Zealand Odyssey: Court House, Hunterville

'New Zealand Odyssey', published in 1989 by Heinemann, was authored by me, Don Donovan (who did the text and illustrations) and Euan Sarginson, who did the photography and design. In this series of blog posts, I will publish some of my drawings.



In the heart of the Rangitikei district is Hunterville, a small town serving a large farming area, and in the heart of Hunterville lies the 1896 court house built to a standard design that can be seen in small towns all over New Zealand. This charming little building was, in 1987, a museum and art gallery kept in good repair behind its neat picket fence. I have a thing about power and telegraph poles: I like them because they help with perspective. In this case one feels that the court house might run away were it not tethered!

© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz
.

24 April 2011

New Zealand Odyssey: The Temple Of Ratana At Ratana

'New Zealand Odyssey', published in 1989 by Heinemann, was authored by me, Don Donovan (who did the text and illustrations) and Euan Sarginson, who did the photography and design. In this series of blog posts, I will publish some of my drawings.

This unique building is the main temple of the Ratana religion centred upon the village of Ratana in the Manawatu-Wanganui District of the North Island. I've always been intrigued by the faith which was born of a vision experienced by Bill Ratana in November 1918. Without going into detail, from the vision of this simple man a serious new fragment of Christianity became established which is now of sufficient importance to influence the politics of New Zealand. 
My point of interest was simply the striking architecture and its symbols (e.g. Arepa and Omeka are Maorified Greek alpha and omega and also the names of Ratana's sons; and the stars and crescents on each dome are those of the star of Bethlehem and the constellations that guided Polynesian Pacific voyagers).

When I visited Ratana on this day in 1987 I saw nobody; the town appeared empty, and yet I could feel eyes upon me.

© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz
.

19 April 2011

New Zealand Odyssey: The Old Granary, Marton

'New Zealand Odyssey', published in 1989 by Heinemann, was authored by me, Don Donovan (who did the text and illustrations) and Euan Sarginson, who did the photography and design. In this series of blog posts, I will publish some of my drawings.



This dear little shop in Marton is a good example of what can be done with thoughtful additions to a simple structure. Four things set it apart from the ordinary: firstly the paint job, a plain choice of black and white; then that striped awning, slightly frivolous but in keeping with the decor; thirdly the Old English lettering which, when it comes to 'Ye Olde Tea Shoppe' is usually a bit twee but in this case fits the antiques and arts and crafts functionality of the shop; finally that nice symbol of the wheatsheaf to carry on the memory of what the building was once about.

It's unusual to do a full-colour painting that comes out looking like black and white but there were a few things in the windows - and the brass doorstep -  that allowed me to use other colours in the paint box.

© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz

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18 April 2011

New Zealand Odyssey: AA Office, Marton

'New Zealand Odyssey', published in 1989 by Heinemann, was authored by me, Don Donovan (who did the text and illustrations) and Euan Sarginson, who did the photography and design. In this series of blog posts, I will publish some of my drawings.



This oddly shaped shop and office caught my eye in the main street of Marton, a charming little town off the main highway near Bulls in the Rangitikei district. Somebody with a humorous penchant for kinky design had the wit to install that neat little awning over the first floor window and in doing so set the AA office distinctively apart from its neighbours. The iron pillars supporting the canopy suggest that the shop has been around for a long, long time - a century perhaps?

© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz

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17 April 2011

New Zealand Odyssey: The Cosmopolitan Club, Wanganui

'New Zealand Odyssey', published in 1989 by Heinemann, was authored by me, Don Donovan (who did the text and illustrations) and Euan Sarginson, who did the photography and design. In this series of blog posts, I will publish some of my drawings.



This reminded me of something I once saw in Egypt. I can't think why. The Wanganui Cosmopolitan Club must have been endowed by pretty wealthy local men (it would undoubtedly have been men) in 1900. It would have been a place to wheel, deal, move and shake in those days. Very grand. 

My drawing was done, as were most in the North Island, in 1987 when, I'm sure, the club flourished. The '87 crash, laws against drinking and driving, and less need for the younger up-comer to need patronage damaged such clubs considerably into the new century; I wonder whether the 'Cossy Club' was similarly affected?

For the technique-minded, I drew the wrought iron with liquid rubber solution, let it dry, painted the watercolour wash over it, then peeled it off. Hey presto white railings!

© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz


16 April 2011

NewZealand Odyssey: Wanganui Rowing Club.

'New Zealand Odyssey', published in 1989 by Heinemann, was authored by me, Don Donovan (who did the text and illustrations) and Euan Sarginson, who did the photography and design. In this series of blog posts, I will publish some of my drawings.


I liked this stately old wooden building beside the Whanganui River. I'm not sure of its vintage but I'd put it around 1880 - Victorian without a doubt. One imagines mustachioed worthies in rowing suits, horizontally hooped and stretching to above the knee, sweating their Saturday way (without underarm deodorants) on their historic river, always ready to throw their diminutive cox into the river after any victory.

My drawing was done in 1987; the building looks the same today except for a different paint job and something posh they've done to the front entrance.

© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz

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15 April 2011

New Zealand Odyssey: A.F.Kitchen's Chemist's Shop, Wanganui

'New Zealand Odyssey', published in 1989 by Heinemann, was authored by me, Don Donovan (who did the text and illustrations) and Euan Sarginson, who did the photography and design. In this series of blog posts, I will publish some of my drawings.


This chemist's shop in Wanganui was another of those self-aggrandising monuments built by local worthies who'd obviously made good. I imagine Mr A.E.Kitchen often stood across the street congratulating himself on this 1858 Victorian brick, stone and wrought iron edifice. How he must have loved the pillars with their ionic capitals.

Meanwhile, about 130 years later,  Mr Arcus had brought the whole thing down to earth with the most mundane of store fronts (part of which he maybe leased to 'Be-Bop's' - or perhaps he was Mr Be-Bop himself?). When observing any town or city in New Zealand, if you want to see the real architecture look above the canopies!

© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz

.

13 April 2011

New Zealand Odyssey: General Store, Whangamomona

'New Zealand Odyssey', published in 1989 by Heinemann, was authored by me, Don Donovan (who did the text and illustrations) and Euan Sarginson, who did the photography and design. In this series of blog posts, I will publish some of my drawings.


There was a touch of Brigadoon about Whangamomona in 1987. On the long road from Stratford to Taumurunui you came round a corner of a dusty road and there in front of you was this village half a century away. Among other things I was intrigued by the general store which looked as if unchanged since the early nineteen-twenties; but I was later warned that it might have been done over as a prop for a movie or perhaps a TV commercial. Whatever might be the case, the underlying structure is genuine and that'll do me.

© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz



12 April 2011

New Zealand Odyssey: Hawera Handyman Barn, Taranaki

'New Zealand Odyssey', published in 1989 by Heinemann, was authored by me, Don Donovan (who did the text and illustrations) and Euan Sarginson, who did the photography and design. In this series of blog posts, I will publish some of my drawings.



When my father died he left behind a large cake tin (with the Queen's portrait on it) full of all the things he thought he should keep because they might come in useful one day.

The Hawera Handyman Barn reminded me of dad's tin on a grand scale. You could have built a house out of its offerings. I loved the clutter; very tempting for any artist of the unusual. That was 1987. I can't imagine what might have happened to that toilet seat.

© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz

11 April 2011

New Zealand Odyssey: The Douglas Boarding House, Taranaki

'New Zealand Odyssey', published in 1989 by Heinemann, was authored by me, Don Donovan (who did the text and illustrations) and Euan Sarginson, who did the photography and design. In this series of blog posts, I will publish some of my drawings.



There's a magical road that runs inland from Stratford to Taumarunui via Whangamomona; well, it was magical in 1987, I don't know about now. Anyway, on that road is a little settlement called Douglas which is vaguely famous because of the remains of an old brick kiln that opened in 1920-ish and closed in 1981.

The only building of note was this boarding house which stood, lonely, offering its treasures to the empty air. It might still be there, I only travelled that road a few times and that was many years ago.

© DON DONOVAN
donivan@ihug.co.nz








09 April 2011

New Zealand Odyssey: The Rutland Hotel Bottle Store, Wanganui

'New Zealand Odyssey', published in 1989 by Heinemann, was authored by me, Don Donovan (who did the text and illustrations) and Euan Sarginson, who did the photography and design. In this series of blog posts, I will publish some of my drawings.




The signs of a grudging concession to modernity are the TV aerial, sodium street light, grasping parking meter and four baked enamel signs showing the brand power of New Zealand Wines and Spirits Limited: Pimm's, Johnny Walker, White Horse and Seagers.

© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz 

 

08 April 2011

New Zealand Odyssey: King George V Coronation Rotunda, Inglewood, Taranaki

'New Zealand Odyssey', published in 1989 by Heinemann, was authored by me, Don Donovan (who did the text and illustrations) and Euan Sarginson, who did the photography and design. In this series of blog posts, I will publish some of my drawings.


Back in the good old days when New Zealand knew her place in the hierarchy of commonwealth it was de rigueur to 'do something' about earth shattering events that happened on the other side of the world.

Thus when George the Fifth was crowned in London it was necessary for the inhabitants of loyal Inglewood to mark the occasion. This they did with this bandstand, or rotunda, which is rather charming. I seem to recall that when I did this sketch it was somewhat isolated and I wonder just how many bands have played on its stage. There was a post-Victorian fashion to stroll in the park and to listen to a military band playing selections from Sullivan's music for the Savoy operas but whether that ever happened in Inglewood escapes me.

© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz

07 April 2011

New Zealand Odyssey: Foxglove Cottage, 50 Dawson Street, New Plymouth

'New Zealand Odyssey', published in 1989 by Heinemann, was authored by me, Don Donovan (who did the text and illustrations) and Euan Sarginson, who did the photography and design. In this series of blog posts, I will publish some of my drawings.



Even in 1987, I was surprised to see this historic little cottage so close to the centre of New Plymouth. It was clearly a beloved relic and unless protected would die in the face of urban renewal and increasing real estate 'values' (which are usually little to do with true value and much to do with cupidity). I don't suppose it survived.

My wife liked the original illustration so much that I gave it to her and it still hangs on a wall after all these years.

04 April 2011

New Zealand Odyssey: Cinema, Eltham, Taranaki.

'New Zealand Odyssey', published in 1989 by Heinemann, was authored by me, Don Donovan (who did the text and illustrations) and Euan Sarginson, who did the photography and design. In this series of blog posts, I will publish some of my drawings.


O Glory! Corrugated iron on the grand scale! 

The front of this cinema is the bit on the left, in black and white. It was the rest that excited me; I don't think I've seen a better example of iron construction in all my New Zealand travels. And the colour was out of this world.

Eltham is on the inland road that connects Inglewood to Hawera, via Stratford, to the east of Mt. Taranaki/Egmont. When I did this drawing in 1987 the whole village seemed to be in a time-warp that suggested the 1930s: Bogart, Ginger Rogers, Fred Astaire, George Sanders, Peter Lorre, Sidney Greenstreet...

I expect Eltham's more prosperous looking now, being in dairy farming country, and I doubt if this building still exists (although it should; it's a classic).

© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz

01 April 2011

New Zealand Odyssey: Storm Warning At Motutere

'New Zealand Odyssey', published in 1989 by Heinemann, was authored by me, Don Donovan (who did the text and illustrations) and Euan Sarginson, who did the photography and design. In this series of blog posts, I will publish some of my drawings.



I, being old fashioned, have always looked upon women as the gentle sex. The reason why I illustrated the entrance to this otherwise unremarkable public convenience at Motutere, south of Taupo, was the warning sign at  its doorway. My mind boggled.

The caption I gave to the illustration in our book was 'What do they do in there?' That was in 1987, I have never re-visited the building and so wonder whether, in fact, it was destroyed, perhaps in a fit of rage upon finding a empty toilet roll holder?

© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz


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Blurb

RANDOM SAMPLINGS F...
By Don Donovan

About Me

My photo

Don Donovan: Biography

I was born on 20 January 1933, nine days before Hitler came to power in Germany, I grew up in south London. Although evacuated during the phoney war and the quieter times I lived in and out of air raid shelters during the blitz and experienced both V1 and V2 attacks on London. Left grammar school in 1948 aged 15 substantially undereducated. I wanted to go to art school but because of family ‘poverty’ joined a commercial art studio in the West End. I was, thereafter, variously a messenger boy, commercial artist and typographer. I was in the Royal Air Force from 1951 to 1953 when the only useful thing I did was to take part in King George VI’s funeral parade.

In 1955 I married Patricia O’Donnell, a RADA graduate, at that time playing opposite Derek Nimmo, they were juvenile leads in a touring repertory company. He went on to great success because he had a funny voice.

We came to New Zealand in 1960 where I worked in advertising. At length I became managing director of one of the companies of whose holding company (the largest domestic advertising complex in New Zealand) I was also a proprietor and shareholder. I left the industry in 1990 when my company was bought out by American interests. My timing was brilliant, at that point my first book had been published and the next was on its way.

We have two daughters and four grand-children.

Now, apart from writing, I function as a self-educated grumpy old man.

Books & Writings

‘New Zealand Odyssey’, with Euan Sarginson, Heinemann-Reed, 1989.

‘One Man’s Heart Attack’, New House, 1990. (A special edition of this book was purchased by CIBA-Geigy for distribution to NZ doctors).

‘Open 7 Days’, Random Century, October 1991.

‘The Good Old Kiwi Pub’ by Saint Publishing in 1995 followed by:
‘New Zealand House & Cottage’ in 1997. (Saint Publishing have also published calendars for the years 1994 to 2004 using my watercolour illustrations).

‘The Wastings’, my first novel was published in July 1999 by Hazard Press. Although an international subject it had very limited distribution, only in New Zealand, and the rights have reverted to me. (Colin Dexter read 'The Wastings' and wrote to me: 'I enjoyed and admired "The Wastings"... a beautifully written work... a splendid debut in crime fiction... More please!'.)

Also the texts of photographic books:
‘Auckland’
‘Colourful New Zealand’
‘New Zealand in Colour’
‘Top of the South’
‘Aoraki-Mt.Cook’
‘Above Auckland’
‘Hauraki Gulf Destinations’
‘Otago’
‘Bay of Plenty’
and a compilation of photographs and quotations titled ‘Anzac Memories’ 2004 all published by New Holland.

My written and illustrated book, ‘Country Churches of New Zealand’ was published in October 2002 by New Holland, who also published ‘Rural New Zealand’ 2004 (photographs and text), and a series of four humorous books of photographs and quotations in 2004 and 2005 titled ‘Woolly Wisdom’, ‘Chewing the Cud’, ‘Fowl Play’, and ‘Pig Tales’. My most recent book was published in August 2006 by New Holland, titled ‘Political Animals’.

Over the years I have written for NZ Herald, Heritage Magazine, Next Magazine and various local and overseas travel and general interest media.

[ENDS]