Activity

DIGITAL PRINTS now available on Ebay • Greeting card selection now available on Etsy • ASNI'S GARDEN: Original Watercolour paintings available on Etsy

SHEET MUSIC: Diego Fernandez de Huete: Compendio numeroso — original music for harp from baroque Spain
TREAT YOURSELF TO SOME MUSIC: Harp sheet music store * Travels in Middle Earth CD700 Years of Pop CD

Asni the Harper digital downloads: CD Baby ** Amazon MP3 * iTunes

NOW AVAILABLE: New Zealand Film Locations map: A3 poster * Snowflake Christmas/seasonal card * Queen Galadriel holiday card * Easter greeting cards

In this newsletter:
*** Talk About the Weather
*** News & Current Projects
*** Cool Things Friends Do: Sunila Sen Gupta, Iris Compiet, Milivoj Ceran

Talk About the Weather

Weather patterns have been unusual this year. We had a rainy, rainy summer. Then the winter rains started halfway through March. Usually, February is a time of drought and fire warnings, while March and April have in the past sometimes made up for rainy summers with a glorious, long stretched out Indian Summer that would last well past the autumn equinox.

I borrowed a ladder from my friend Helen and learned to climb up on my roof — a major feat for a person with mild acrophobia — and fix that leaking gutter. It wasn't actually very complicated. Now I no longer have a waterfall by my bedroom window, but the water still puddles up outside my back door because the verandah roof is full of leaks. Another learning opportunity, I guess ... These days, gumboots are my footwear of choice.

Coming up to Easter, MetService issued a stern storm warning. A tropical cyclone by the name of Cook was bearing down on New Zealand. It was going to be the worst storm since the historic gale, back in 1968, that sunk the Wahine — a ferry operating between the North and South Islands — just off the Wellington coast, killing 52 people. The projection was that the storm would arrive on Thursday, making landfall in Northland and then bearing down along the East Coast of the North Island on Good Friday.

It was expected to hit especially hard on the Coromandel peninsula and Bay of Plenty, which had already been suffering damage recently from a previous weather event. People were encouraged to re-think their Easter holiday plans, especially if they had involved the Coromandel, which is a popular holiday destination for Aucklanders in particular.

Then on Wednesday evening, people up north started posting on Facebook that the weather was already there, bringing torrential rains and resulting flooding. Wellington Region Emergency Management Office posted an update that the storm was now expected to move along the West Coast, so everyone in the Wairarapa breathed a selfish sigh of relief. The projection was now that the weather could be reaching the Wellington region by 2 p.m. on Thursday.

I had to drive up to Pukaha Mt. Bruce that day to deliver my artwork for the show, so I was following the weather forecasts pretty closely. I'd prepared myself to get there by 12 noon, but following this update, I judged it was best to batten down the hatches right now, so I locked up my chickens in the chicken house, then went around the backyard to pick up everything that might be in danger of getting lifted in the air and causing damage by hitting something, so I ended up running an hour late.

It was an eerie drive. Obviously the outliers of the system were already here — a thick cover of cloud was laying low on the mountains, and there was a constant light rain. A weather condition I associate with November in Northern Europe, only 15° warmer. We very rarely get low cloud and foggy conditions covering such a wide area, on account of the constant winds.

But nothing much had changed by the time I got home in the late afternoon. Around 7 p.m., another update came: now the weather was in Hawkes Bay — so it could only be a matter of hours until it reached us. The centre of the storm was now projected to move over Cape Palliser. That's less than 70 km from where I live as the crow flies, out on the coast. I went out again and latched my fruit trees — some of them had been wobbling precariously in the fierce winds we usually get in spring and early summer. If this was going to be worse, it was not to be kidded with. I would have liked to then just crawl into bed, but judged that I wouldn't be able to go to sleep anyway, so I sat up and waited. Around midnight or shortly after, the winds should be here.

By midnight, nothing. MetService's survey station up north had blacked out, so for a while there were no satellite images available. By 2 am, I decided that if it wasn't storming yet, I wasn't going to wait any longer. I had a restful sleep, not disrupted by any dramatic weather events.

The next day, I checked the news. The cyclone had swerved east, out to sea, somewhere a little north of Masterton. Masterton, that's a half hour's drive up the road. I go there a few times a month to do my shopping, or get medical tests done, or see some public service or other. No damage at all to the South Wairarapa or the Wellington region. Wasn't that lucky.

But hey, it was nice to have been well prepared.

Weather patterns, Wairarapa Weather patterns, Wairarapa Weather patterns, Wairarapa Weather patterns, Wairarapa Weather patterns, Wairarapa Weather patterns, Wairarapa Weather patterns, Wairarapa Weather patterns, Wairarapa

Weather patterns, Wairarapa



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Kotuku — digital print by Astrid Nielsch Kotuku — digital print by Astrid Nielsch Kotuku — digital print by Astrid Nielsch Kotuku — digital print by Astrid Nielsch

Kotuku — digital print

News and Current Projects

I have duly completed, printed, framed and delivered a new piece of digital work for the exhibition at Pukaha Mt. Bruce, which opened on Good Friday and will run until the end of June.

Kotuku — white heron, or great white egret — is a companion piece to last year's Piwakawaka. I have long been planning to make a series of digital prints of native birds, and this is an excellent opportunity to get the proverbial kick in the behind. I ended up having to shift some of my other commitments aside to be able to finish this piece by the deadline, but am very happy with how it has turned out. Evidently those creative juices have started flowing again, which is a big relief.

The rest of the organizing committee for our Wairarapa Art Sale in Featherston picked up the slack without a complaint, and our media release ended up a great example of teamwork. It's a real pleasure to work with a team like this!

With two weeks to go until the opening, we are now entering the hot phase, and once I finish this newsletter, I will be busy contacting the local papers, as well as setting up an online gallery to showcase the work that has been submitted to the show. More than 50 artists have registered. Yesterday night, the committee sat together to agree on which pieces to select for the show. It's easily the most fun part of the work.

My own contribution this year will be three of my oil paintings - Almond Monavale and Prairie Coneflower from my garden paintings series, which hasn't been exhibited, and Mermaid, which I had in the Myths and Legends show at Matchbox a little while ago. I have also submitted three of my prints: the above-mentioned Piwakawaka and Kotuku, and Peacock Prince — after all, this is Booktown, and the show is heavy with what they now call "Pop Surrealism". My fantasy themed pieces will be in good company.

Almond Monavale - oil on canvas by Astrid Nielsch Prairie Coneflower - oil on canvas by Astrid Nielsch Mermaid - oil on canvas by Astrid Nielsch Piwakawaka — digital print by Astrid Nielsch Kotuku — digital print by Astrid Nielsch Peacock Prince — digital print by Astrid Nielsch

These works will be available at the Wairarapa Art Sale, Featherston Community Centre, 11 - 14 May

On the home front, things have calmed down a wee bit. I haven't seen either of our handsome police officers all month. I've now registered with the Medical Centre in Martinborough, where my first action was to get my ears syringed — a constant battle, since this treatment, which In have needed done on a regular basis ever since I was a teenager, is no longer regarded as "good practice" for reasons that I suspect have far more to do with money and commercial interests, than with the patient's wellbeing.

On April 1, I drove to Wellington for the first ever Wellington Women's Huddle — coming out of the Women's March, a number of us have decided to stay in touch and meet up regularly, to discuss ways to take the momentum from the March and turn it into political action.

It was an excellent meeting. Some 20 odd people were there — one of them a man, brave soul, and only four of them New Zealanders. The woman who had made her private home available for this meeting was from Iran, and soberly reminded us that Iranian women had had all the rights, before they got taken away from them again. There was an old time activist originally from India, who brought her substantial political experience to the meeting, and a young woman who hailed from Gibraltar. I was the only German, an announcement I can now make without expecting everyone to flinch. Thank you, Angela Merkel.

There was a staggering amount of respectful listening, and no shouting on top of each other. None. At all. Two hour's discussion resulted in an action plan with very concrete ideas of what to do. I will be thrilled to see how this develops.

Handsome sheep says hello! Handsome sheep says hello! Handsome sheep says hello! Handsome sheep says hello!

Handsome sheep says hello!



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Cool Things Friends Do

It's been a while since I have featured any of my artist friends here on this newsletter. Everyone has been really busy, and some of the people I have featured here years ago when they were just setting out, are now well on their way to fame, maybe even fortune. Three of my former featurees are currently working on major projects, so it's time to revive the Cool Things Friends Do feature!

Sunila Sen Gupta recently posted a particularly striking piece of work on Facebook, wondering out loud if it really worked in colour? I don't know what you think, but I think "hell yeah". I asked her about it, and she told me about her long-standing book project: The Chronicles of Circadia.

This project has been in the making for several years and will probably be several more. I hope this page will make you want to follow this adventure.

This is still a work in progress. And it will evolve more as I carry on. The story is being told by Atara, a woman, around thirty years old. In the first chapter she meets the giant Lion who is injured and needs her healing skills. While taking care of his wounds she tells us the legend of the creation of her world.

"Long ago, before time existed, there was the Void. And there was Chaos, manifesting itself through sound. Sound became melody and the fabric of the Void warped and twisted. Amidst the melody appeared a theme, a mighty song. Thus, the Lady of Night came to be and joined her voice to the melody, creating the first Symphony ..."

Music is a constant theme in Sunila's work. It happens very rarely that I suffer from artist envy, but I had just completed my Kotuku when I spotted her piece, and although I have been mighty pleased with my own work after such a long break, her painting made me wonder what happened to the surreal, dreamlike, music inspired work I used to do before I learned how to paint. I'm glad she is still doing them for me.

Iris Compiet's fairies have been crawling out of the faultlines and all over my Facebook for a little while. Now she is inviting everyone to her Kickstarter launch. Here is what she writes:

"Faeries of the Faultlines is a book, or rather, it'll be a book soon! It is a project which started in June of 2016. I began sketching daily faeries and posting them on Instagram. I had been doing daily sketches in May for #mermay and apparently June was #junefae so I felt I just had to try my hand at faeries. Not the cute, pink kind with stripey socks but the 'real' ones, the spirits of nature, those who live just on the fringe of our reality. Those creatures that you somehow KNOW are there but are just out of reach. And perhaps... you dare not to admit that you actually DO believe in faeries... but deep down inside you really fear that it's true, a faerie does die whenever someone says out loud 'I don't believe in faeries'.

With every daily sketch I went down the rabbit hole and met more and more strange creatures. I was greeted at the court of faerie, the seelie and the unseelie court! And these creatures began telling me their stories. I had lovely chats with friendly trolls and interesting discussions with swamp hags. I'm discovering new creatures everywhere and I have gotten permission to tell those stories and share them in a book called Faeries of the Faultlines which I plan to crowdfund by way of a Kickstarter campaign that will be launched in June of 2017."

"When this Kickstarter launches it'll be little over a year ago that I set out on a journey through the Other World, the Faultlines. I had started doing daily sketches of faeries for #junefae and slowly but surely a world opened up to me, a world inhabited by weird and wonderful creatures, by monsters and magic. It seemed I wasn't the only one enjoying this world and people started asking me about doing a book... well... ask no more, this is where YOU can help. Because I have the stories, the sketches, the notes and the illustrations and all I need is your help to make this book happen. Any follows, likes, shares or invites to this event are very much appreciated, the more the merrier... there's room for all of us in the Faultlines!

The preliminary launch date has been set to 21st of June, Midsummer Night..."

Visit her website or her Facebook page to find out more about this project: Iris Compiet: Faeries of the Faultlines * Facebook page

Milivoj Ceran is working away hard on his new book Norse Mythology, which he has not only illustrated but also written. He sent me a request to help promote his Kickstarter campaign back in January, but I was too busy with all the local drama, to manage to send a newsletter out in time for his deadline.

My apologies — but then, it looks like the has not only met, but substantially exceeded his funding goal entirely without my help! You can still pre-order the book here.

"This book is closer to an art book than a regular mythology book. The focus is on illustration and images. The text is subservient to the visual content. The images evoke the feel and mood of a lost Norse heritage, and words are just a guide to adventures."

"In other words — this will be the kind of book that has the form of a children's book with not one square inch of blank page from the first to the last page. The text will be small and depicting the illustrations. A few sentences for each spread. When I started to work on the project it looked way different. It had more text and less illustrations. But I realised I can give my best if I focus as much as I can on storytelling through pictures."

These days, I tend to cringe a bit at the thought of a certain kind of art that glorifies big muscled men in Viking outfits, but despite superficial appearances, Milivoj is not one of those artists. This thing does look effing gorgeous.

Arohanui, from Asni



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End of a rainy summer End of a rainy summer End of a rainy summer End of a rainy summer End of a rainy summer

End of a rainy summer