Ramblings of a much published New Zealand author

29 October 2011

New Zealand Odyssey: 1014/1008 George Street, Dunedin

'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.



1988 was the first time I painted these mirror-image cottages in upper George Street, but not the last. They also feature in my book: New Zealand House and Cottage. They fascinated me. They shared the busy street with brick terraces and old villas with tiny gardens of high trees and enough vintage roses to grace all the cups and saucers ever created.


Nobody takes this much trouble when they design and build houses these days.

© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz
.


28 October 2011

New Zealand Odyssey: Houses, Dundas Street, Dunedin

'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 have no doubt that this row of houses accommodated mainly students from Otago University who, as is the way of students, are often noisy, intrusive, badly behaved and impossible to live with - so why would any ordinary citizen want to be among their neighbours?

I don't know whether it was the landlords or the students who splashed paint around to try to disguise the fact that all the houses in the row are the same, but wheover it was was inspired. If the terrace hadn't been so polychromatic I should never have illustrated it. The drawing dates to about 1988, I expect they have been repainted many times since.

© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz
.

24 October 2011

New Zealand Odyssey: Otago Early Settlers Association Museum, Dunedin

'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.


Somebody decided to be outrageously adventurous - either that or there was a collection of half-used pots of various coloured paints languishing in a council garage. 

Fortunately paint can't actually destroy the underlying architecture and so, when I last looked at an image of the building on the Internet, they'd scrubbed it all off and it no longer looked as hideous as it did that day in 1987 when I did this illustration.

One good thing about this rainbow effect was that you could distinguish each architectural feature: portico, pediment, entablature, spandrels, pilasters, balustrades, columns and Corinthian capitals. Yay!

© DON DONOVAN
donovn@ihug.co.nz
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22 October 2011

New Zealand Odyssey: Larnach's Castle, Otago Peninsula

'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.



To my mind Larnach's Castle is a folly and was built by a man whose capacity for self-aggrandisement knew no bounds. Larnach was an Aussie of Scots descent who made lots of money from trading, gold exploitation and other speculative enterprises. How much of a hand he had in designing his folly I don't know but I get the impression that his architect was taking the piss out of him!

For all that, the putative castle is an attraction and sits in a most wonderful position on Otago Peninsula. It's so bad that it's good - like the Albert Memorial in London, William Randolph Hearst's pile in California or any of Saddam Hussein's palaces. I had great fun with all that cast iron 'lace'; it's drawn with a pen nib full of liquid rubber solution, allowed to dry, then washed over and peeled off. Hey Presto!

© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz
.

20 October 2011

New Zealand Odyssey: Two Outhouses At Larnach's Castle, Otago Peninsula

'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.



Larnach's Castle in itelf is a pretty eccentric building (more of that in another post) but its gardens contain some rather charming functional buildings. The brick and glass hothouse (above) is particularly elegant, its beauty, as is so often the case with practical buildings, dictated by  function.

The stone outhouse (below) leaves no doubt that it's lockable, solid and unpretentious. No doubt that would be where expensive garden machinery was stored. The drawings date to 1987, I'm sure that over a decade into the new millenium nothing's changed.



© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz
.

19 October 2011

Cobb & Co's Stagecoach



I did this drawing of the ‘Burton’ coach some years ago. It is in the collection of New Zealand’s Canterbury Museum who also supplied some of the information below:
This Cobb & Co ‘Telegraph Line’ coach went into service on the Hokitika-Christchurch route in about 1865, taking gold miners and other hopefuls to the new goldfields of West Canterbury (later the Province of Westland).

It is a derivative of American-built coaches, although the design was perfected in Australia.
As New Zealand’s railway network expanded, the coaching trade declined. This coach, however, was used for a surprisingly long time. Until 1923 and the opening of the Otira Rail Tunnel, it continued to cross the Southern Alps with teams of five horses and up to 17 passengers and their luggage.

Charlie C. Cole who had been running a coach service in Victoria, Australia introduced his coach service to Canterbury in 1863. He set up stables at Christchurch in partnership with his brother Leander. In 1869 operations were taken over by W.H. Burton & Company who continued to use the established name of Cobb & Co. in association with their own. The firm was sold again in 1874 to Hugh Cassidy who ran the operation until his death in 1922. Within twelve months the operation had ceased. The opening of the Otira Rail Tunnel in 1923 was the last link in a rail system joining both coasts of the South Island. After sixty years the coaches had become redundant.

***
On a personal note: I knew Sheila Sarginson and her sister, Mona Clark, mother and aunt of my late friend, Euan Sarginson; they had the memorable experience of having travelled together in the Cobb & Co. coach to Otira before the rail tunnel was opened. I once walked the remnant of the stagecoach track that ran, south of the modern highway, from the bottom of Porters Pass to near its summit. It has probably eroded completely by now.

© DON DONOVAN. With acknowledgements to Canterbury Museum.
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12 October 2011

New Zealand Odyssey: Fishing Boat at Port Chalmers, Otago

'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 don't very often draw this sort of subject, preferring architectural stuff but this fishing boat, sitting propped up at Port Chalmers cried out for The Treatment. I loved its businesslike look, all that tackle: floats, winches, cranes and chains. The port is not far away from the entrance to Otago Harbour and the swells, beauties and perils of the open Pacific Ocean.

© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz
.

10 October 2011

New Zealand Odyssey: 31 Currie Street, Port Chalmers

'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 discovered this piece of domestic architectural jewellery as I mooched round the streets of Port Chalmers in 1987. It's a microcosm of that dour Victorian town on Otago Harbour: solid as the rocks of the peninsula and everlasting. They do say that if there was a catastrophic nuclear war only the cockroaches would survive; well, so would 31 Currie Street it is so... Permanent! And look at the detail: the quoins, the fence, the portico, door and those bi-coloured roof slates.

The New Zealand Historic Places Trust has this house on its protected list but precious little information is recorded except to say that it was built 'circa 1880'. 'Circa'? There's no doubt - it's on the pediment over the front door.

© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz
.

09 October 2011

New Zealand Odyssey: Palmerston Town Hall, Otago

'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 must be one of the ugliest public buildings in New Zealand but I had to include it in the book because it's outrageously pretentious for a very small town. The town, Palmerston, is a little north of Dunedin in the South Island. 

There's another Palmerston - Palmerston North - in the north island that's about a hundred times bigger and boasts quite a good university. Hardly anybody in this country knows about the one in the south so when somebody claims to come from Palmerston most people think it's the one in the North Island. Did you get all that?

Just along the road from the town hall there's a pub that's much more handsome - and probably much more useful.

© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz
.


08 October 2011

New Zealand Odyssey: Meldrum's Bakery, Usk Street, Oamaru

'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 shortbread edifice is in a suburban street in Oamaru and was in a pretty sad state when I painted it in 1987. I've seen it more recently and somebody has tidied it up. Mr Meldrum must have had an uncommon love both of Oamaru stone (local limestone) and architecture because it's a fine piece of work, unique, there's no other baker's shop in the world that has its chutzpah.

It dates back to about 1880 when it stood on a quarter acre section with a six-roomed house also built of Oamaru stone.

If Mr Meldrum's bread and biscuits were as good as his shop he must have been one special baker!


© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz
.


05 October 2011

New Zealand Odyssey: The National Bank, Oamaru

'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.


For sheer pomposity this pile takes the prize! In Oamaru, quite a small city even by New Zealand standards, the National Bank, built in 1871, breathes assurance to all of the surrounding citizenry. 'Give us your wealth. We'll keep it safe within these limestone Corinthian-capitalled pillars.'

It's glorious but I confess that I never looked beyond the fa├žade preferring to believe that the stone goes all the way round. That was in 1987-ish. I was in Oamaru in 2010 and the building is still there and, I believe, is still the National Bank.

What has changed is that it's no longer New Zealand owned, the ANZ bank from Australia now owns it. But it still sports the prancing black horse - the Lloyds TSB Bank of England horse - go figure!

© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz
.

04 October 2011

New Zealand Odyssey: Waimate 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.



This glorious building was raised in 1900 and had been designed by Gordon Troup who certainly knew how to design a great railway station (see Dunedin's finest). If this building had been in any of the major cities of New Zealand - Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington Christchurch, Dunedin -it would have been demolished by now but because it's in Waimate nobody felt the rush of modernization and I hope nobody ever does!

My drawing does not do it justice. It requires a visit - but in this day and age don't go by train, use the car, it runs more frequently. The age of passenger rail transport is dead.

© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz
.

03 October 2011

New Zealand Odyssey: Evans Atlas Roller Flour Mill, Timaru

'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.



It's hard to conjure up a vision of dark, satanic mills in New Zealand but the 1888 Evans Atlas Flour Mill in Timaru comes close. This is how it looked ninety-nine years later, I'm not sure whether it was still grinding in 1987 but you could still read the name on the building. 

All those bricks! 

The original is about 600mm wide. People often ask me how long it took to do the painting; well, surprisingly, not long - no more than an hour. Once the bricks were drawn (very quickly) the red washes were quick and easy. This is one of my favourites and takes up two pages in New Zealand Odyssey.'

© 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]