Book Review: Ten x Ten: Art at Te Papa, edited by Athol McCredie

Available in bookshops nationwide.

ten_x_ten_cvr_loresThis is a beautiful book covering the broad and diverse range of art at Te Papa as they prepare to renew their gallery space. 

 

In this book, ten of Te Papa’s art curators have each picked ten pieces from Te Papa’s collection of over 16,500 works and explain why they are drawn to them and why they believe they matter. The collection is truly diverse, balancing international and New Zealand art, and with pieces dated from circa 1300 to 2015. Each curator gives a short commentary on the painting, drawing, photograph, applied art object or sculpture. 

 

Curators responses vary from historic influences to emotional connections, with the tone very casual and conversational. These commentaries translate well creating a more informal, casual approach to art that I think most readers will enjoy. It’s enough to guide the viewer to certain elements or aspects in an informed approach but still allows the viewer to draw their own response. I recognised quite a few artworks featured but knew very little else and it was nice to learn more. 

 

The passion and delight of several curators shines through as they share the piece with the viewer. I found Rebecca Rice’s commentaries particularly compelling and I enjoyed pausing between paragraphs to look at the opposite art, consider what she had highlighted or identified before absorbing more.

 

I also cannot finish this review without mentioning the wonderful introduction by editor, Athol McCredie, who gives an overview of how Te Papa’s collection developed, how it acquires art and how it grew the diverse collection to what it is presently. This was surprisingly comprehensive and interesting, with a great insight from McCredie. ‘Art with depth and strength may speak to people in different ways, but speak it does’. 

 

This book is great start for anyone even just a little curious about art or planning to visit Te Papa’s renewed gallery space.

Reviewed by Sarah Young

Ten x Ten: Art at Te Papa
by Athol McCredie
Published by Te Papa Publishers
ISBN: 9780994136251

 

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Book Review: Feed Your Brain: The Cookbook, by Delia McCabe

Available in bookshops nationwide.

cv_feed_your_brainIn Feed your Brain: The Cookbook, Delia McCabe applies her Masters in Psychology and over 20 years of research into the connection between nutrition and brain health to deliver over 100 plant-based recipes covering breakfast, mains, soups, dessert and more.

The book is well laid out and begins with an brief summary of the seven steps to improving your mental well-being, which was the subject of her first book Feed Your Brain, published in 2016. It also includes insightful FAQs such as the best sweeteners to use and meal prep suggestions.

Moving onto the recipes, they are easy to follow and McCabe covers a good variety of dishes such as stir-fry’s, burgers and salads. Most dishes have also been gorgeously photographed and styled. I made the bean soup, which was very easy to throw together. It wasn’t the most exciting soup but it’s a simple, healthy and cheap recipe to go to when you’re feeling lazy. I also made the lentil apricot salad (below). This was surprisingly tasty with the dressing and apricots bursting with flavour to create the most exciting lentil dish I’ve ever eaten.
lentil-apricol.jpg

Overall, this cookbook packs a lot more than just recipes and would be a good source for those ready to move towards a more plant-based diet.

One aspect I did find annoying were the spotlights on ingredients (usually vegetables or nuts) scattered throughout the book. These weren’t particular interesting and, due to the theme of the cookbook, could’ve had stronger links to benefits for the brain or body. While I am slowly shifting my diet towards more healthier and nutritious food, I think I would only flick through this cookbook occasionally or as a go to if I needed to find a make a dish that could cater for a vegan or gluten-free friend.

Reviewed by Sarah Young

Feed Your Brain: The Cookbook
by Delia McCabe
Published by Exisle Publishing
ISBN 9781925335613

Book Review: Leap of Faith, by Jenny Pattrick

Available now in bookshops nationwide.

cv_leap_of_faith_bigPattrick, an experienced New Zealand historic novelist, brings the Volcanic Plateau to life in her latest book Leap of Faith.

Set in 1907, Pattrick takes the reader on a journey on what life may have been like for those drawn to the area by the railroad work, to construct the Makatote viaduct. This pioneering work made it possible to travel the whole length of the North Island, from Wellington to Auckland, by train.

Working on the railroad is somber and tough, with co-op gangs incentivised by targets to ensure the railroad is completed on time. It’s also a harsh and, at times, perilous environment. Despite these conditions, the railroad attracts a variety of characters.

At the heart of the novel is young and impressionable Billy, only 14 years old when he goes to join the camps at Makatote. He’s later joined by his siblings Maggie and Freeman, and quickly becomes good friends with Ruri, one of a few Māori working on the railroad.

It’s not long till Billy is swept up by the gospel and charm of Gabriel Locke, a preacher with a dodgy past, who passes through the town hoping to build a community of dedicated followers. Gabriel also quickly charms Amelia Grice, a prohibitionist who is determined to figure out who’s supplying sly grog to the workers.

This novel develops over two years switching between perspectives of the different characters. It also switches between past and present, which I found a little confusing at times. The pace of the book is fairly slow but finally picks up a quarter of the way into the book when an unfortunate event ties several of the characters together. This helps to move the plot along and adds some suspense to the novel – in such a small community, secrets don’t last long.

Historical novels aren’t a genre I read often and with this book I longed for more of a connection with the characters. That being said, I admired the amount of research Pattrick has clearly done. Pattrick shows a deep knowledge of not only the area but also in the construction of the railroad and the time period. She expertly weaves New Zealand’s native bush and unique rural landscapes throughout the novel:

‘The mountain appeared for the first time in months, while majestic at the head of the valley. Woodpigeons erupted from what was left of the bush, flying from ridge to ridge flashing their blue-green wings’.

Anyone interested by the New Zealand railroad or with connections to the area will find this an intriguing and enjoyable read.

Reviewed by Sarah Young

Leap of Faith
by Jenny Pattrick
Published by Black Swan – PRH
ISBN 9780143770916