Ramblings of a much published New Zealand author

31 January 2012

New Zealand Odyssey: Our Lady of the Snows, Franz Josef Glacier Township, Westland

'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, in 1989, was the first painting I ever did of this church. I did another, later, which appeared in my book Country Churches of New Zealand.

Our Lady of the Snows is designed like a Swiss church with a steep-pitched roof to shed snow. Having been dedicated, opened and blessed on 23 December 1951 it's not old, but it is different. Small and intimate, it has the atmosphere of an appropriate place in which to consign one's fate to one's maker before taking to the mountains.

In the porch are two St. Bernard windows, one depicts crossed skis and a shield containing a loaf of bread and a flask of brandy, the other has a ski pole and ice pick crossed, and a coiled rope.

© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz
.

27 January 2012

New Zealand Odyssey: The Mayor's House, Ross, Westland

'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 house on Aylmer Street, built in 1870, was the home of Joseph Grimmond, one time mayor of Ross. By 1989, when I drew it, the locals had so little feeling for heritage that they had allowed it to fall into sorry disrepair. I guess somebody must have cared something for it otherwise why would the window holes be boarded up with rusting corrugated iron?

Ross was once one of the richest gold mining settlements in Westland. It was said that after heavy rain gold flakes could be seen glistering in the streets' gutters! 

It may be that by 2012 'heritage' has been discovered but whether or not Grimmond's house has been restored I do not know. An old acquaintance of mine, Phil Ross May, wrote the history of Ross and the West Coast gold rushes. He died young and is buried on the hill overlooking the township.

© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz
.


26 January 2012

New Zealand Odyssey: Decay and Dereliction, Westland

'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.


Euan Sarginson, my late co-author, used to chuckle at my love of ruined buildings. 'Anything that's decaying turns you on,' he once said. True. Why? Because it gives one freedom from straight lines and allows all sorts of little tricks to be performed with pen, brush and pastel. 

The top drawing is of a derelict barn at Karangarua as it was in 1988. It's a salad of shapes and colours; the original hangs on the wall of a good friend in Christchurch.



The other two buildings are also on the West Coast, one near Franz Josef and the other a garden shed in Ross. Rust and Moss (sounds like a lawyers' practice).
  
© DON DONOVAN
donovan @ihug.co.nz
.

25 January 2012

New Zealand Odyssey: Two Historic Buildings at Okarito, Westland

'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.



Okarito and its lagoon are west of the main highway that runs from Haast to Greymouth. Its first claim to fame was as a destination for gold-hungry prospectors in the 19th century but now it is visited because it's the home of white herons (egrets) whose Maori name is Kotuku.

Two old buildings caught my eye in the late 1980s: Donovan's Store (no relation to me) and the local youth hostel.

Donovan's was obviously much older than the YHA house and was probably set up to sell everything imaginable to the gold miners. I don't know when it closed down but Coca-Cola, which, I think, only started distribution in New Zealand in the 1960s managed to get its name up so the shop lasted at least until then.



© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz
.

22 January 2012

New Zealand Odyssey: William's Cottage, Marine Parade, Queenstown

'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 1988 when I did this illustration a stiff wind could have blown down this neglected 'sore-thumb' rusty-roofed cottage on the lake front at Queenstown. But that was before the town became a tourist mecca of expensive motels and street names in Japanese. Before, somewhere along the line, the cottage was saved and preserved as something of historic interest (which largely proves that where historic places are concerned, age is far more important than architectural merit).

The Historic Places Trust of New Zealand advises that its address is 21 Marine Parade; other experts say it's No. 19. It's the oldest house in the town, named after John Williams who built it around 1864. It's now a café.

Why they called it Marine Parade when it's nowhere near the sea defeats me.  


© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz
.

19 January 2012

New Zealand Odyssey: Lodge Arrow, Kilwinning No. 86, Arrowtown

'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 2011 this handsome building looked exactly the same as when I did this painting of it in 1988. It's built of layered stone schist - a local material of which Central Otago seems entirely composed! It's an impressive structure and looks as if it will last for ever. 

Freemasonry is a mystery to me. Despite having been in business for many years I was never invited to become a mason (or Rotarian, Buffalo, Oddfellow etc) and would probably have turned any offers down anyway as I'm not one for joining such hand-holding organizations.

© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz
.

16 January 2012

New Zealand Odyssey: Buckingham Street, Arrowtown, Central 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.



These houses in Buckingham Street, Arrowtown are mainly workers' huts from goldmining days, the Arrow river and its surrounding area having been among the richest fields in New Zealand. They could have been demolished years ago had somebody not realized their historical value and now, despite occupying real estate that is worth small fortunes, they remain, photographic subjects for the increasingly large numbers of tourists that have turned the rest of the town into something approaching a Disneyland replica.

I did this painting in 1988. I am fortunate to have first visited Arrowtown in the 1960s before it had been 'discovered'.

No. 55 Buckingham Street.

© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz
.

13 January 2012

New Zealand Odyssey: A Farm Barn on Speargrass Flat, Central 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 old stone farm barn was at Speargrass Flat, between Arrowtown and Queenstown in Central Otago. It looked like this in the late 1980s, a huge area of corrugated iron in various stages of repair covering stout schist walls that looked as if they would last forever. 

In the twenty of more years since then parts of Speargrass Flat have become among the most expensive bits of real estate in New Zealand with an international golf course, time share apartments and 'Homes and Gardens' homes and gardens that would even make dents in the bank accounts of Wall Street financiers!

I'm pleased to say that the original of this watercolour hangs in the sitting room of an old friend who seems to love it.

 © DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz
.



07 January 2012

New Zealand Odyssey: Two Buildings in Old Cromwell - Before the Flooding

'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 late 1980s, when I painted these two buildings, they stood on the old main street of Cromwell and had done so since the beginnings of the town back in the gold mining days of the late nineteenth century. The street then sloped downwards to where the Clutha and Kawarau rivers met at 'the junction' before flowing swiftly though the Cromwell Gorge below.

The buildings still stand although since the Clutha Dam was filled and Lake Dunstan formed - after 1993 - their inclined highway became a traffic-less back street that disappears under water - a fate the buildings just escaped. 

The upper illustration is of the Masonic Lodge; the lower, a simple schist structure, is Hanson's Cottage, variously owned by a brewer, watchmaker and 'toothpuller'.


© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz
.

02 January 2012

New Zealand Odyssey: Clyde Dam, Lake Dunstan, Drowned Orchards

'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 1993, long after I did this little watercolour (with oil pastel for the highlights), the Clyde Dam was finished in the Cromwell Gorge after which it gradually filled to make Lake Dunstan. Hamlets, houses, roads, gardens, sheds and orchards were inundated and this subject was among them.

I wonder whether you can still read 'FRUIT' on the corrugated roof of the shed after all these years? And how long did it take for the trees to drown? And I wonder whether any of the family that owned and tended the orchard are still alive today? And how long will it be before all the people who once bought fruit at this wayside stall are dead and gone? Tempus fugit indeed.

© 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]