Today sunny Nelson is not being sunny.
After lunch yesterday I went to the Suter gallery (which I want to spell Sutre). It’s Nelson’s main art gallery and it was rather good. The main exhibition was on abstract expressionism and the cold war, specifically how the cold war influenced artists and how the CIA used this art to show people in communist countries of the freedoms of the West. It’s just as well communism was all about classlessness, cos if you should some abstract expressionism to a bunch of middle-class folk in the ’50, they’d start mumbling about their four-year-old doing better.
Then I went to the centre of New Zealand. There are signs all over the place pointing to the centre of New Zealand. I followed them and began walking up a hill. This seemed normal because, well, the centre of New Zealand could be anywhere. But the path and signed seemed to be taking me right up to the top of the hill, which seemed a bit too much of coincidence. Finally I reached the top (and was glad for the times I’ve done the 100-step walk up the big stairs at work) and I saw, right atop the hill, a plaque marking it as the centre of New Zealand. No wait, it was the “centre of New Zealand”. Those cockers used scare quotes! It wasn’t really the centre of New Zealand. It was a trig station magically transformed into a tourist attraction with a monument the Jaycees erected in the 1960s. What a rip off. It’s not so much the centre of New Zealand as the centre of Nelson’s civic ego.
I realised something about Nelson as I was walking along the main street this morning: no graffiti. It’s unusual to experience a place that’s totally bald of graffiti. No stickers either. And none of that grey anti-graffiti paint.