Ramblings of a much published New Zealand author

25 July 2011

New Zealand Odyssey: Kaiapoi Rail Yards.

'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 only excuse I have for including this illustration from 'New Zealand Odyssey' is that the shapes appealed to me; oh - and, of course, it's a very New Zealand sort of scene. 

NZ railways have only ever been attractive when their forms have been dictated by their functions. Some of the most beautiful of forms have been the viaducts and spirals that have been forced upon the engineers by the landscape. At a more mundane level, railway sheds have a character all their own like this one at Kaiapoi - a concerto of corrugated iron and a money-spinner for manufacturers of ochrish paint!.

Kaiapoi took an awful battering in the 2010 and 2021 Canterbury earthquakes but I'll bet this shed, if it hadn't already been deliberately demolished, survived. My drawing dates to 1987.

© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz
.


22 July 2011

New Zealand Odyssey: Ohoka House (1870), Rangiora, North Canterbury

'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 found this stately old house in North Canterbury in 1986 resplendent with its decorative barge boards, slate roof (from Wales?) and red bricks. Looking at it twenty-five years later I wonder how it coped with the Canterbury earthquakes of 2010 and 2011. Brick buildings suffered terribly; indeed a near contemporary of Ohoka, the Deans's family home at Homebush, was almost completely destroyed.

In some ways, Ohoka appears a bit brooding and grim, a bit Dickensian, but a happy family - dynasty - would have put the lie to that. I know nothing of the family, the architect or the builders.

© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz
.

21 July 2011

New Zealand Odyssey: Old Union Rowing Club, Avonside, Christchurch

'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.


These wonderful buildings stood beside the Avon River near Oxford Terrace in 1987 when I did this drawing. Clearly much loved with fresh paintwork, the one on the right was the Union Rowing Club and the small neighbour belonged to the Naval Association. I was puzzled about the rowing club because the Avon was very shallow but I think the building had been constructed when a weir downstream, later removed, held water back thus raising the level.

Look at those wonderful decorative shingles on the gables. Nobody bothers with such detail  these days.

© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz
.

20 July 2011

New Zealand Odyssey: The Red Post, Culverden

'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 thing that fascinated me about this fork in the road from Christchurch to Hanmer (left) or Waiau (right) was the red post stuck in the ground on the other side of the road (under the sign). It was a survey marker the original of which was installed in 1871. Because it was red, the area around it was known simply as 'The Red Post'.  It was even included as that in railway plans until the name was superseded later by Culverden.

It's still known as Red Post Corner and the post, which some twit once painted yellow, is still there and painted red again. (Or it was in about 1987). Is it still there?



© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz
.

16 July 2011

New Zealand Odyssey: Antigua Boat Sheds, Christchurch

'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 nothing else quite like the Antigua Boat Sheds anywhere else in the whole of New Zealand. Like huts wearing college blazers, they've been on the city's Avon River since 1892. They were a delight to illustrate in 1987 and, after the awful earthquakes of 2010 and 2011, I hope they've survived.

© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz
.

13 July 2011

New Zealand Odyssey: Reid's Store, Maruia

'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 old store stood at Maruia, on the Lewis Pass road across the Southern Alps from Canterbury to Westland. I did the black and white pen sketch in 1986 feeling pretty sure that the building was coming to the end of its life.

On the uneven clapboard wall of the doorway at the right end there was the notice board (below) tattered, corners missing, years of pin holes but showing a spark of life among the local villagers whose existences could have been quite hard - especially in alpine winters.



© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz
.

10 July 2011

New Zealand Odyssey: Mayfair Theatre, Kaikoura

'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 how Kaikoura's Mayfair Theatre looked around 1988. It still looks the same today except that it's had at least one paint makeover since then - I suspect many more than one.

The simple, symmetrical art deco building comes as a bit of a surprise as you travel along the foreshore of the Kaikoura Peninsula whose architecture is largely New Zealand suburban seaside 'gothic' built around the late nineteenth early twentieth centuries. Kaikoura is one of those resorts whose populations swell enormously in the holiday season; otherwise I doubt that the small town could support a healthy theatre.

© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz
.

09 July 2011

New Zealand Odyssey: The Door of the Old Uruwhenua Schoolhouse

'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 working on illustrations for 'New Zealand Odyssey' I was always delighted when the opportunity came to play with textures. The old Uruwhenua school house was nothing much to look at but its door was a fine mix of flaking colour and stressed dilapidation. How long before I did this drawing the school closed I don't know but I'll bet a large number of cats, rats and possums used that convenient hole on many later occasions.

I gave the original drawing to a friend in Sydney.

© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz
.

08 July 2011

New Zealand Odyssey: Tophouse Cottage Mailbox

'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 New Zealander's capacity to recycle imaginatively was encapsulated in this enchanting mailbox by the roadside at Tophouse on the road to Nelson. 

On a tree stump rests the remains of a 'Diabolo' 50 gallon pump (which in itself is a piece of functional sculpture); on top of that a horizontal oil drum, and beside all a standard US-type mailbox. The word 'MAIL', which indicates that the occupier takes the Nelson Mail newspaper, somehow appears back to front. Don't ask me how or why, I can't remember, I did this drawing in 1988.

© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz
.

07 July 2011

New Zealand Odyssey: The Old Longford Store, Murchison

'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 Old Longford Store, five kilometres north of Murchison, looked like this in 1988. It long ago closed down. Now worse for wear, rusty roof sagging, it's just a memory. I actually remember when it was a functioning shop in the 1960s!
The finger post points up the Mangles Valley, to a trout stream I much wanted to fish when I arrived in New Zealand from England in 1960. I was fortunate to meet a man whose farm straddled the river and we've been friends ever since. The original of this drawing hangs in his house. I can't think of a better place for it to be.

© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz
.



06 July 2011

New Zealand Odyssey: Bush Hut, St.Arnaud

'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.


A typical bush hut such as you would find anywhere in the back blocks of New Zealand. It's constructed of vertical boards and battens with a wooden floor, a corrugated iron roof (what else?) and a triumph of rusty steel sheeting for a chimney. In 1988, this example, at St. Arnaud, south of Nelson, was close to a main road but I doubt if there was anything grander than a pony track when it was built. 

With that size chimney it would have had such a fireplace that on a cold night, when the logs were roaring, people inside would have had trouble avoiding roasting themselves! I wonder how many sausages and gallons of beer have been consumed here over its lifetime? And I wonder whether it's still there?

© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz
.



01 July 2011

New Zealand Odyssey: The Remains of Glenhope Railway Station

'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 used to be a railway line from Nelson to Glenhope - a long time ago - and in 1988 this is what part of the station building's remains looked like. You could still read 'Luggage Room' and 'Telegraph' lettered over the doors.

Old buildings that are still standing are rarely left unused in New Zealand, especially in farming areas, and the station was amply stocked with winter feed on the day I visited. Surprisingly the roof iron was still in good condition but it was along time since it rattled from the vibrations of a docking locomotive.

© 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]