Fantastic Journeys

NEW IN THE SHOP: Greeting card: Wild Chicory *** D. Fernandez de Huete: Spanish Dances Vol 1 (easy) for harp or keyboard
Also available: Greeting cards * Music CDs * Sheet music * New Zealand photography

In this newsletter:
*** Coming soon: "Fantastic Journeys" Exhibition at Thistle Hall
*** News & Current Projects
*** Cool Things Friends Do: Gary Peters
*** Family Letters

Coming Soon: "Fantastic Journeys" Exhibition at Thistle Hall

It is with a great deal of excitement, some trepidation, but mostly a lot of ebullience, that I can today announce my first solo exhibition!

"Fantastic Journeys" will open at Thistle Hall on Wellington's Cuba Street, on Tuesday 17 August. Come see dragons! Wizards and magic! Underground labyrinths, enchanted islands, wild chases in the sky, and a wizard's spiritual battle with his shadow. The exhibition will focus on the series of oil paintings inspired by Ursula Le Guin's "Earthsea" stories, which I have been working on for the last year and a half.

There will be a grand opening at 6 pm, with musical entertainment by Asni the Harper (yes, that's the selfsame person as me, but we like to emphasize the concept of split personalities) - as well as more robust food and drink. The show will be open on Tuesday from 11 am, and then every day until Sunday from 11 am to 8 pm (Sunday closes at 6 pm). And seeing that I have this wonderful access to a split personality who is (or was) a professional musician, there will be live harp music twice a day, from 12.30 - 1 pm and 6-6.30 pm. Just as an extra incentive to pop over in your lunch hour, or after work.

Located at the upper end of Wellington's Cuba Street - very much the artsy/bohemian side of town - the hall is run as a community space for people to book for this very purpose, and there is a strong tradition of artists doing their first shows. Seeing that it is also the only space in central Wellington that can be booked in this way, there is quite a bit of competition for the available slots. For the last three months, I have been putting in my applications for the monthly draw - they are now booked up until November - without any success. Then one day I found an email in my inbox saying that someone had cancelled - first in, first served, I was at home and able to react quickly.

Alas, that means that instead of a six month period to prepare things and promote the show, I now got all of seven weeks ... and I am still a few images short. Well, a deadline can do wonders in that regard, and fortunately I have already been through all the motions once before, when I organized and promoted my CD launch at Happy - so I'm sure it will all be fine. At least it gives a perfect excuse to spend lots of time painting in the next several weeks! Something I am entirely looking forward to.


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sketch: lost in the forest sketch: river rocks sketch: unicorn

The last of the May sketches-a-day, and one for June: unicorns, and river stones

News & Current Projects

My online shop sales have been up, up up this month after the launch of the new Huete book. I have already sold a third of the first production run, and a whole lot of people have ordered some of my other books as well while they were at it - and the occasional CD. My master plan to befriend all the harpists in the world on Facebook and then subtly feed them information about the wonderful resources available in my shop, seems to work ! :D

This month's new shop item is a new greeting card: "Wild Chicory", a photoshop sketch from my garden which turned out so well that my mother specifically requested it as a greeting card motive. I think she was right!

Next up will be the 2011 Middle-earth New Zealand Calendar, which I plan to launch next month. If you wish to be notified, please send me an email - or just keep your eyes peeled for the next newsletter.

I do hope to get round to producing another book of sheet music before the end of the year, as well as a few other goodies. Seeing the distinct increase in sales that just a little added effort can bring is *most* encouraging, and a great incentive to keep doing more of the same! Perhaps one day even this starving artist will find a way to make a sustainable living without putting her health and wellbeing on the line. Wouldn't that be nice.

The Online Promotion for Everyone classes at the Featherston Community Centre have now been moved to the 4th Thursday of the month - except for the June class, which has been postponed to Thursday 1 July, from 7.30 - 8.30 pm at the Featherston Community Centre, 14 Wakefield St. The topic will be "How to be Found - Search Engines and what they are looking for". Cost is $ 12 per session per person. The classes are open to non-Featherstonians too, of course - if you are interested in attending, please send me an email so I can notify you in case there are any changes of date or time.

a shiny new bike kitchen table real bread!

A shiny new bike, and some *real* bread!

Not much happening in the garden, since it has still been rainy and wet a lot of the time, but I have finished the new flower and kitchen garden bed alongside the house, planted some spring bulbs, and put in a couple of potatoes, just to see what will happen.

Last week I finally went and cashed in the money my parents sent me for a birthday present, back in March. A new bike! I figured it would be best to buy it in the middle of winter, when there would be less competition. Today being a bit less miserable than usual, I biked it down to Lake Wairarapa, and I can assure you it is a big step up from that poor little mule of a second hand bike I bought when I moved here, just to tide me over the summer. Photos included! They also prove that the sun doesn't always shine in the Wairarapa, but it is still a rather handsome place.

The other lifestyle revolution this month happened in my kitchen. The friendly lady who used to run the gardening classes at the Community Centre in Featherston (alas, she now has a real job and moved away) - noting my obvious enthusiasm, gave me a sourdough starter after our last session in May, and after seven years of deprivation, I am now able to bake my own *real* bread! It took a few tries to sort out the appropriate gestation and baking times and temperatures, but my last try turned out impressive, if I say so myself.

Now I only need to learn to make my own beer, and life in the Wairarapa will be quite perfect, thank you very much. :D

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pure NZ mud winter in the Wairarapa willows

Wairarapa in winter

Cool Things Friends Do: Gary Peters

Talk about serendipity: just a few days after I got the news about the space being available at Thistle Hall, the second Artist Alliance networking meeting was scheduled at Toi Poneke in Wellington. What a great opportunity to discuss the ins and outs with some fellow artists, and get some expert advice from Maggie, who runs this organization! Gary Peters, one of the other artists present, talked at length about his blog and his online promotion, and so of course I went and had a look at his site.

The abstract work he does is, obviously, quite a different ball game to how I work, or most of the artists I usually hang out with for that matter. I won't hazard to attempt to talk about it intelligently, but I was very attracted to his Adventureland series. And there are also Sea Monsters! I was going to include some thumbnail images in this newsletter, with permission of course, but he has a clever website that doesn't let me save images off it, and it is a bit late to request them by email. But do have a look at his site. The artist also writes a weekly blog, and is generally quite articulate in talking about his own work, so that saves me the embarrassment of writing something silly. :)

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Edith Schnickwald, my grandmother, in 1941 my mother and aunt with their father, 1941 Edith Schnickwald, passport photo 1939

family photos

Family Letters

Earlier this month, my mother sent me a care parcel with a stack of new tubes of oil paint to further my budding artistic career, as well as some household items I had left behind. Included was also a slim folder containing some of the results of the research into our family history, which my mother has embarked on (for those who are not in the picture, I have written about it in another newsletter).

Mostly, what she has to go by are family letters and some legal documents. Those are pretty scanty prior to their arrival in a bombed out Berlin in June 1945, seeing that the family lost absolutely everything except what they could carry on their backs - and a few letters and photos sent to relatives, and later returned.

What little there is, in its very scarcity, draws a devastating picture of a world collapsing.

As I mentioned in my previous newsletter, the family had been part of the "resettlement" programme for Baltic Germans, and spent the war years in Torun, Poland. In January 1945, my mother, who was 8 years old at the time, and her older sister were put on a train - one of the last to leave the city - and sent off to relatives in Teplitz-Schönau (Teplice, now in the Czech Republic). My grandmother was not allowed to leave with them. The reason for this is apparent in a piece of paper issued on January 19, 1945 by the local Nazi authorities, containing directives for the population of Torún.

They appear to be in complete denial of the fact that the Russian Army was about to march in. The paper states that there is no reason to evacuate the city, and that measures to send off "mothers with many children, pregnant and fragile women" were only taken to create more room for other refugees (at least they could not deny the existence of those). My grandmother, having only produced two daughters for the Führer and lost her husband to the war, evidently was not valuable enough as a breeding mare. The population was to remain calm, and "trust in the leadership of the party". I wonder how many still did, at that stage!

On the back of this piece of paper, my grandmother has written down some brief notes about her flight out of Torún, attempting to rejoin her children. This, I would like to share with you here in her own words (translated as best I could from the original German).

Place names are given in German, and where my mother has been able to identify the place, the Polish name is included in square brackets. Some of the abbreviations were unknown to me, I have included explanatory links to Wikipedia. Please note that of necessity, these abbreviations refer to Nazi organizations - if this offends you, please do not follow the links. The dates are January/February 1945. Some of this journey was accomplished by bicycle, the rest by truck or train.

21.1. 10:30 pm

left Thorn [Torun] on foot with the bike and sled. Miss Buller & Prove - re-stowed belongings in front of the air base.

22.1. 3.00 am

reached Schmolln into RAD camp

22.1. 8.00 am

from Schmolln to Scharnau on with SD wagon [this appears to be a kind of military truck] via Fordon to Palsch (Beyer) manor house rooms for Germans cooked potatoes and sauce.

23./24.1. 8.00 am

via Prust to Tuchel [Tuchola], there street to Brone blocked, many bends, very steep, short rest in the dark in a large kitchen - hot milk. Ride through Tucheler Heide, beautiful woodland. Short rest. At night in a poor cabin near stove. Cold & damp. Seat: a bucket with a board across.

25.1. 8.00 am

from Tuchel [Tuchola] to Bladau - rest at Zeh (Bessaraber) from 24. afternoon to 26.1. early. Lubricating truck, chicken roast, desert. Birthday of Mr. Lochmann 42 years. Wine, cognac. Nice people - start of the friendly community.


to Konitz [Chojnice], 2 km behind Konitz rest in unhospitable house. Interrupted by alarm.


Departing early in deep snow start of the strong winds. Behind Schlochau [Czluchow] - rest in Klausfelde with Grinche - people on the move. At night, own room with comfort - went to bed washed & radio - chicken roast and broth.


To Landeck - empty house - shop - 2 rooms. Slept under Christmas tree on couch - swopped later. Lunch from Weck A+ cherry soup. Danger zone I almost empty settlement - readiness for alarm.


Departure for Neustettin [Szeczinek], there Dt, Krone [Walcz] blocked. Stormy wind and snow slanting in our face - unprotected road. Made cover from a blanket. Snow ....... In Neustettin [Szeczinek] long wait - accommodated by Mrs Schöning, Bahnhofstrasse 30 - hot coffee. Decampment in the artillery barracks. Looking for quarters - room in tax department office. Warm and very beautiful night.


Day of rest in Szeczinek tax office. Shopping in town. Bread butter cigarillos. Slippers, stockings on coupon. Cooked chicken at Mrs. Schöning's. In the evening expectation of alarm. At night begin of evacuation. It spoke the Führer. Bullerchen [term of endearment for Miss Buller, a travel companion] and I slept on the floor.


Got up at 5 am. Left in the direction of Bärwalde [Barwice]. New destination - Stettin. No chance for progress in trek 4 km in 7 hours. Drove on until 1 am - slept under the blanket. At night rain sets in - bad road - break at Gut Mlockwitz in kitchen cooked oat soup. Slept on the truck. Rain.


Drove on to Polzin with a detour via Balfans. Rest at Zeblin - manor house unfriendly - friendly reception by a young girl. Cooked chicken and broth. Separate quarters. We plucked chicken at Steingräben.


Rest at Zeblin - an hour to mend clothing - Potato[...unreadable - some food stuff]. News at the men's house - Russian, false. Washed hair.


Drove on at 8 am to Polzin. Forgot the chicken. On the way we were stopped because of suspicion by Landrat [name is unreadable]. Drove on to Altschlage. Accomodation at guest house with another 4 people. Fetched food from the farm house - Grütz?? Tasted good. Coffee. Guest house "Zur Grünen Wiese". Last night together.


Drove on to Schwielbein, Friendly reception at Kling's. Drank coffee and brought some to our men. Farewell.
In the afternoon at Kreisbauernführer Broese's. Advice to drive via Swinemünde. Mending clothing radio.


In Schiwelbein obtained food coupons, registered, fixed bicycle. Re-packed belongings. In the evening ate a nice "Quarktorte" [a sweet]. Second night in nice soft bed.


10 am departed by bicycle & with heavy luggage towards Stargardt. Uphill very hard - downhill very well! Fell over two times. Met [police chief from Bartelshof?], he helped. At the station train left right in front of my nose. On to Regenwalde [Resko] = rain in the forest [a wordplay with the name of the village]. Fell over another two times. Boy from the broken truck helped.
In Regenwalde [Resko] boarded a transport train supposed to go to Stettin. Thought it over - since too slow - got off the train. In the evening, proceeded to Plathe.


In Plathe slept at little at the station. 6.30 am proceeded to Wietstock. In Wietstock very many people. Like the herrings in one train compartment - almost didn't get on, since had to check in bicycle. Soldiers had to get off - we got in.
In Ostswine with ferry over the narrows.
In Swinemünde boarded refugee train - destination Mecklenburg. Departure late in the afternoon through the night via Stralsund - Rostock.


In the morning arrived at Schwerin - wanted to get off - train did not stop on to Hagenow. A little station before Hagenow - Kirch-Jesar - parked. Small bath, a swede for lunch. Nice weather. At 4 [pm ?] continued to Lüneburg.
In Lüneburg attestation from the police chief - coffee - sandwiches, pea soup. Waited in police chief's office. Air raid warning 2 times


At 1 [am ?] departure on the express train - additional railway car to Hannover. In Hannover - alarm - an incredible mass of people - station underground - over ground everything broken - rain - 5.56 am departure towards Halberstadt - we are progressing very slowly. At noon, attack by a low-flying plane.
Broken window - nothing else. Everything [or more likely "everyone"] out of the window. Nice weather - sunbath on the slope. Changed train at Aschenbach & again in Köthen. Arrived at Leipzig 10 pm. Station broken. Long way to platform. In the NSV ate soup. Boarded a free compartment for refugees.


5.30 am Arrival at Dresden. 6 am continued journey very crowded in aisle. In Bodenbach changed compartment. Forgot ticket [? or map?]

Here the records end. My grandmother passed through Dresden in the early morning of 10 February. In the night of 13 February, the allied Air Force bombed the city into ruins, killing a large number of civilians, including many refugees who were passing through this important traffic node.

In the words of my mother, it is close to a miracle that my grandmother eventually arrived at Teplitz-Schönau [Teplice], causing great joy and relief for her two daughters, as well as for the relatives, who apparently had been quite worried that they'd remain in charge of this addition to their family.

Unfortunately this was not the last - or worst - stage of their odyssey. About two or three months later, the family took to the road again. The memories of that part of the journey, my mother writes, are a different chapter entirely - and one she has not brought herself to commit to paper so far. And from the scanty bits that she has told me, I will not be the one to push her to relive those memories.

Arohanui, from Asni

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