Start fresh – Arts Newsletter for January

Welcome to the first Arts newsletter for 2016! There are lots of fantastic, inspiring, and beautiful new books to catch your eye this time around. Gather inspiration for building your home, take up a new craft, discover your new favourite artist, and listen to some classical music while you’re at it.

Library News


We kick of the new year with this smorgasbord of recent picks. There is even a pocket guide to our fair city’s public art in the mix. My personal standouts are Postdigital artisans and Maya Lin Topologies for combinations of imagery and concepts.

Syndetics book cover Postdigital artisans / author, Jonathan Openshaw.
“Digital technology has irreversibly changed how we see, think and act. A staggering number of us spend as much as half our waking hours online. As we are drawn deeper into a symbiotic relationship with the digital, there is also a growing desire for more tactile, immersive experiences. It’s in this context that today’s “postdigital artisans” operate. Inescapably influenced by the digital world, they nonetheless reject strictly screen-based design and total reliance on automated production, such as 3D printing. They advocate a return to craft, with objects made from clay, metal, glass and wood. They neither turn their backs on technology nor glorify nostalgia, but the high-tech honeymoon is over.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover Maya Lin : topologies / foreword by John McPhee ; essays by Michael Brenson, William L. Fox, Paul Goldberger, Philip Jodidio, Maya Lin, Lisa Philips, and Dava Sobel ; index by Tan Lin.
“This is the first comprehensive monograph on the acclaimed American artist and architect, known for her environmental works and memorials that distill a tranquil yet texturally rich minimalism. Maya Lin is one of the most important public artists of this century. From the moment she entered the national spotlight with her design for the Vietnam Memorial, Lin has been proposing ways of thinking and imagining that resist categories, genres, and borders.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover Art & about : a pocket guide to Wellington’s public art / Frances Sutton ; with photos by Helena Fierlinger.
“Wellingtonians and visitors love the city’s profusion of public art. Complete with maps and photos to help you uncover even the most hidden treasures, this book tells you about each work and the artist who made it.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover Strange tools : art and human nature / Alva Noë.
“In his new book, Strange Tools: Art and Human Nature, the philosopher and cognitive scientist Alva Noë raises a number of profound questions: What is art? Why do we value art as we do? What does art reveal about our nature? Drawing on philosophy, art history, and cognitive science, and making provocative use of examples from all three of these fields, Noë offers new answers to such questions.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Read more


This month’s picks feature a number of sewing books, perfect for aiding those New Year’s resolutions!

Syndetics book cover The artful year : celebrating the seasons and holidays with family arts and crafts / Jean Van’t Hul.
“Celebrating the seasons and holidays is a wonderful opportunity to embrace creativity together as a family. It’s also a fun way to decorate, prepare for, and learn about the holidays we celebrate. In The Artful Year, you’ll find art activites, crafts, recipes, and more to help make each season special. By doing so, your family will create memories and mementos, you’ll develop creative growth in your children and yourself, and you’ll have lots of fun!” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover Sew many dresses, sew little time : the ultimate dressmaking guide : interchangeable patterns to create 200+ unique dresses / Tanya Whelan.
“Tanya Whelan believes that dressmaking is easier than most people realize but that most sewing books are more complicated than they need to be. With her “choose-your-own-adventure” approach to sewing, Tanya offers an invaluable collection of patterns that empowers sewers to become designers. The trick is a set of patterns for 6 skirts and 8 bodices that line up perfectly at the waist, plus an additional 4 sleeve styles and 4 necklines. Tanya Whelan gives readers clear instructions and easy-to-follow step-by-step diagrams that allow them to use the enclosed pattern pieces to create up to 219 fitted dresses, including simple strapless designs, sheaths, and halter gowns. The book covers basic dress construction and altering techniques for women of all shapes and sizes.” (Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover Sew fab : sewing and style for young fashionistas / Lesley Ware.
Sew Fab is a style and sewing workbook for any girl aged 8-13 who loves fashion. It will teach you not just to sew, but how to wear your creations with flair. Start by finding your style tribe, learning to accessorize, identifying the best colors for you, and more. Now get ready to sew. Make yourself a mini studio, stock your sewing basket, and try out some hand stitching. There’s a mix of easy step-by-step projects to sew by hand or using simple machining, from a hair bow to a little black dress (but in the color that suits you best!). Packed with gorgeous illustrations, step-by-step projects, tips, and fun activities, you will be creating unique clothes and accessories in no time.” (Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover Handmade interiors / project editor, Laura Palosuo.
Handmade Interiors is the most comprehensive guide to soft furnishings and home sewing projects on the market. Handmade Interiors leads you through sewing projects such as how to sew curtains, a cushion cover or a Roman blind using step-by-step instructions and images. Compiled by experts in home design who offer advice on fabrics and variations to tailor to your specific home decoration needs. The easy to follow format makes this the perfect guide for novices and experts alike, covering the whole process of creating professional looking furnishings, from measuring, all the way through to installing your finished project.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Read more


This month’s selections include well-known design icons, and inspiration for your home kitchen design. Plus, there’s a great book of infographics about architecture. Enjoy!

Syndetics book cover London in Fifty Design Icons
“In this new series, the Design Museum looks at the fifty design icons of major cities around the world – icons that, when viewed together, inherently sum up the spirit of their city. Covering everything from buildings and monuments to a graffiti mural or an item of clothing, we are able to build up an intricate portrait of a city, layer by layer. From its long-serving Routemaster buses and world-famous tube map to the miniskirts of the swinging sixties and the imposing silhouette of Battersea Power Station, London is a tapestry of design masterpieces. Join Deyan Sudjic, Director of the Design Museum, as he unravels the visual history of one of our most complex and intriguing cities.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover Kitchen Kulture / edited by Michelle Galindo, Sven Ehmann, and Robert Klanten.
“Whether traditional, Nordic, or futuristic, the kitchen is the new living room–a place to cook, eat, and celebrate. This book showcases the latest interiors and kitchen concepts. Whether large or small, modern or rustic, the kitchen has become the center of all the action. What was once a pragmatically designed place for food preparation has now become a stage on which the act of cooking and eating is celebrated as a social event. Kitchen Kulture is an insightful survey of new, established, and unconventional ideas in contemporary kitchen design.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover Archi-graphic : an infographic look at architecture / Frank Jacobus.
“This informative and engaging book uses a variety of inventive infographics to compare the range of materials and colours used by different architects, who influenced who, and which architects are the most discussed. It also approaches architecture from more unconventional angles with spreads that show the kinds of architecture favoured by dictators, the defining facial features of famous architects and so on. Irreverent and entertaining, this book will appeal to all those with an interest in architecture or infographics.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover Worship : a history of New Zealand church design / text, Bill McKay ; photography, Jane Ussher.
“A striking tribute to the diversity of New Zealand church architecture, Worship brings together early country churches, grand cathedrals and modernist designs in a unique survey of some of our most compelling architectural landmarks. Architectural historian Bill McKay thoughtfully explores the history of church building in New Zealand over the past 200 years while award winning photographer Jane Ussher captures an extraordinary array of churches the length of the country.” (Syndetics summary)

Read more

Classical Music

A few new pieces for the new year:

ClassicalrecentJan16a1 1615: Gabrieli in Venice. Performed by The Choir of King’s College.
The King’s College choir is joined by His Majestys Sagbutts & Cornetts (on reliably period instruments) and corralled by Stephen Cleobury in a celebration of the 400th anniversary of the publication of this collection of Gabrieli’s works and the 500th anniversary of the completion of the King’s College chapel (where the recording took place). This is, we are told, the first classical album to be recorded using Dolby Atmos technology. So where you were during the recording is where you will be in the listening. The album contains a hybrid SACD and also a pure audio Blu-ray disc (Dolby Atmos on Blu-ray must be a bit special).
ClassicalrecentJan16a3 Néère. Performed by Véronique Gens.
Together with pianist Susan Manoff, Veronique Gens (who Presto Classical refers to as the “grande dame of lyric art”) performs a selection of French art songs by Reynaldo Hahn, Henri Duparc and Ernest Chausson.
ClassicalrecentDec15b1 24 Preludes, Barcarolle, Berceuse, Variations Brillantes, Chopin. Performed by Dong Hyek Lim.
“Dazzling South Korean pianist Dong Hyek Lim was a precocious talent who was first recorded by this label in 2001 becoming the youngest pianist to record for them. Since then he has grown into a mature artist and balances his building performance career (particularly around Asia) with life in New York and studies with the great Emmanuel Ax. He is the laureate of several international competitions including the Hamamatsu, Chopin and Tchaikovsky competitions as well as the Long-Thibaud International Piano Competition when in 2001 he became the youngest ever winner of the Premier Grand Prix. With this album Dong Hyek returns to the music of Chopin, a composer close to his heart” (
ClassicalrecentDec15a2 The New Four Seasons, Vivaldi. Performed by Nigel Kennedy and members of the Orchestra of Life.
2014 marked 25 years since Nigel Kennedy brought The Four Seasons to the masses (25 years!). The haircut hasn’t changed much but this version is souped up a bit, featuring an electric violin, which might be polarising?
“Everybody moves on artistically. So this is a representation of everything I hear in the music and I think I’m well placed to do this because I’ve played The Four Seasons in front of so many audiences, possibly thousands of times. I really love this music and want to give it as much as I can. I hope that this new approach brings you a different and deeper enjoyment of this amazing music.” (Nigel Kennedy, cover)

Read more