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Author: Celine Gibson

Divide and Conquer

While there’s much to be said for the uncluttered look of an open floor plan, equally there’s much to laud in the utilisation of permanent or semi-permanent partitions that create flexible, aesthetically pleasing new spaces while also adding light, privacy and noise alleviation.



Whether you desire the clean-cut sophistication of a glassed partition in translucent, opaque, coloured or digitally etched glass, or something more budget friendly, such as salvaged doors or casement windows refashioned and revamped, room dividers add oomph!

Consider an open bookcase boasting artworks that can be viewed from both sides, or a suspended louvre blind giving that perfect light and shade interplay. A funky screen of vinyl records, painted, covered in metallic or left in their original retro glory would be a great talking point, as would a vertical garden of lush greenery or potted plants.

When it comes to 21st century partitions, set your imagination free!



Honest Talk

New Zealand’s criminal justice system and art recently combined, with a goal of seeking transformative change.



A multi-media exhibition which has been touring the South Island, Kōrero Pono featured the true stories of 16 New Zealanders who have been through New Zealand’s criminal justice system; their statements appearing alongside their portraits and photographs from the 16 Kiwi artists who sought to capture their stories through art, including Marianne Muggeridge, Xoë Hall, John Crawford and Christchurch’s very own Fiona Temple.

The exhibition was created and curated by JustSpeak, a youth-led movement seeking transformative change in criminal justice that will bring about a fair, just and compassionate Aotearoa. JustSpeak Director Tania Sawicki Mead says the project shares the importance of investing in solutions that resolve harm, rather than believing that punishment will provide accountability. “Kōrero Pono simply translates to honest talk, which is what we need when it comes to incarceration in New Zealand,” she says.

“The stories and accompanied artworks come together as a powerful exhibition that speaks to the long-term consequences of prison on family members, on job prospects and our collective failure to address the complex drivers of harm such as family violence, drug and alcohol addiction, and mental distress.”


The goal of the exhibition was to create new narratives about criminal justice, highlight experiences from people who have suffered incarceration and their whānau, as well as to reduce stigma and challenge public perceptions. In hearing the stories of the 16 people affected by incarceration, visitors to the exhibition could not help but be moved by stories like Jess’s.

Jess has been drug-free for eight and a half years now, yet because her last sentence was for two years and nine months (of which she served a year), she is ineligible for the government’s Clean Slate scheme. “I’ve really changed as a person but my criminal convictions will always be there,” Jess says. “No matter how much I’ve changed or the work I’ve done or how many people I’m helping, my options are still very limited.”

Jess says The Clean Slate programme is a great idea, but only for those who qualify. “I think we need to make it easier for people coming out of prison to reintegrate into the community. The journey through the justice system… when people are younger, it can really, really change the course of your life, because if you’re constantly hitting blocked opportunities for jobs or houses, it’s very hard not to go into crime.”


Jess gained her degree in criminology and, upon her release from prison, she approached JustSpeak for a job. “I just really believe in their kaupapa of changing the justice system, making it fairer for people. We need to give more of a voice to Māori and people with lived experience because so often, people are making decisions based on research or books… they just haven’t been there.

“These stories are very moving,” Jess says of Kōrero Pono. “The people are from different walks of life, ages, identities, ethnicities, genders. I feel like it’s something everybody needs to see.”



Matte Black Rules

It’s pretty much a given that the top spot in the neutral colour system has always being held by black. Lily Langtry, Victorian actress and muse of Oscar Wilde, knew that. When her brother died, she donned black, as was customary, but realising it made her look even more beautiful, Lily refused to stop wearing it.



Black is king because alongside its compatibility with just about every shade on the colour spectrum, black is, and always will be, undeniably chic. That’s why we love it.

However, when it comes to home decoration and décor, we tend to shy away from black, worrying it might be a tad too gloomy and without warmth. But in reality, when it’s done right, black is stunning! How opportune, then, that for those with a desire to dabble with noir, your time is now; yes, the décor must-have colour this year is black – matte black.

For those hesitant to fully explore the darker side, try touches of it. For that upcoming dinner party, invest in a set of matte black cutlery, and place as your centrepiece a matte black candelabra with gold or red candles, then stand back and admire your work. Oh là là!

Now you’ve got your confidence, add in a cabinet, a coffee table or pair of feature chairs in matte black, then bring on your bold and brilliant splashes of colour. With dark matte paints now the rage, paint yourself a stunning feature wall then dress your backdrop as it deserves – an heirloom escritoire with an ormolu clock as the focal point, perhaps, or a sprawling rolled-arm sofa with a spectacular mirror above, and a statement standard lamp as your final touch of black magic.

For those yearning to venture deep into the matte blacks, here are a few helpful tips:

Mix it Up – no matter your black matte hue, it loves being paired with colour – think gem variations on ruby, sapphire, emerald, amethyst, amber, and definitely, a dash of diamond!

Work that Contrast Theme – repeat it on trimmings, photo and mirror frames, drapes and other soft furnishings.

Bring on the Texture – for ultimate sumptuousness, layer on the faux furs, fleeces, satins, silks, and plusher-than-plush velvets. Divine!

Mirror Magic – mirrors and matte are beautiful opposites – the larger and more ornate the better. This is the one time you certainly can, and should, gild the lily!

Don’t Forget the Greenery – a potted palm, a variety of ferns, an indoor hydrangea, or a few headily scented plants, such as gardenias, will make your matte haven heavenly.

There, haven’t you done well? Game, set and matte!



Lights Up!

Much like fashion, lighting trends often reflect on bygone eras. Here are some styles currently lighting up 2019.



Mid-century Modern reigned from the 1920s to 1970s. The atom-influenced Sputnik chandelier is a fine example of this style. Much in vogue from the 1950s onwards, it’s been updated through the decades, with finishes such as brushed nickel, brass and gold. It’s a perfect fit with contemporary and transitional décor.

Industrial and Retro are definitely here to stay, with traditional Industrial now sporting an alternative softer version, known as Modern Retro. Popular for kitchen work spaces, above dining areas or as wall lights, Modern Retro gives a unique twist and can even be considered as a statement art piece.

Vintage Victorian, as in Edison lightbulbs, just gets better and better! Available in both LED and incandescent form, this is soft retro at its best. An Edison chandelier, or row of Edison connected lights above your work space, will charm for years to come.

Rustic Modern is beautifully captured in the ED Ellen DeGeneres lighting collection. It is influenced by some of Ellen’s favourite, world-renowned artists and features signature details inspired by Ellen’s own treasured pieces throughout her homes.

For those not fussed on eras, but who love gentle illumination, Soft Gold, which imitates the soft matte finish of brushed silver and brushed gold, while focusing on the mellowness of gold, is for you. Illuminate your favourite cubby-hole with a soft gold lamp for an extra cosy glow.



Tonal Triumphs

If your current downtime reading finds you poring over paint brochures trying to find that elusive complementary colour scheme that will match and not clash, then make it easy on yourself, and on the eye, by thinking tonal hues. Going tonal not only makes rooms appear larger and more defined, but keeping it in the same family palette lessens the margins for error.



One way to achieve this is through the Monochromatic Scheme. Start by choosing your base colour – a colour you love and wish to predominate in your theme. Next, select your lighter and darker variations of your base colour, which might be used as an accent wall, trims, or accessorising accents. The rule of thumb is to have at least two hues off the base colour, but it’s important to ensure they’re different enough to give contrast and interest; think pale blue, sky blue and navy.

The Analogous Scheme delivers a monochromatic look, but has a bit more pizazz. Composed of groups of three colours next to each other on the colour wheel (irrespective of which end you’re working from), such as red, red-orange and orange, or violet, red-violet and red, for instance; when these neighbouring harmonious hues come together in a room, expect to be enchanted by the stunning transformation.

As with the Monochromatic Scheme, choose your dominating hue, then your supporting hue, and finally your accent hue (along with hints of black, white or grey – for a stroke of analogous genius!).


Home Hygge

Do you remember that scene from The Sound of Music when Maria calms the von Trapp children on a stormy night by singing those immortal words ‘Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, bright copper kettles and warm woollen mittens’…?



The sentiments behind ‘My Favourite Things’ may well be universal, but the Danish, who consistently top the charts as the happiest people on the planet, have just one word for it – Hygge. Pronounced hoo-guh, this wonderful word was shortlisted in 2016 by the Oxford Dictionary as word of the year.

Meik Wiking, author of The Little Book of Hygge, describes hygge as being consciously cosy; being with people you love, indulging in good foods, feeling gratitude and upholding equality. With winter on the seasonal horizon, what better time to incorporate the warm fuzzies of this concept to your humble abode?

Here, then, are a few tips from those happy Scandinavians on how to bring hygge to your home.

Burn those candles: the Danes burn more candles than any other country in Europe. From entertaining friends to a romantic dinner for two, a candlelit room spells ambience with a capital ‘A’. Fill your bathroom with fragrant candles and bathe by candlelight for blissful relaxation.

Ramp up the lamps: create a niche space with lamps and lights that are artworks in themselves. Pooled light draws the eye; it’s a gentle beacon that invites rest and time out.

Bring the outdoors indoors: arrange berried sprigs from your garden in an attractive vessel, or place shells, driftwood and other beachcombing finds as focal pieces. Nature’s treasures can be the most beautiful adornment in your home.

Books and nooks: we all need our own hyggekrog (nook) to retreat to, whether it be a den, that little space under the stairs, an attic room, or the studio at the end of the garden. Surround your space with books and belongings that you love. Switch off your phone and succumb to the hush of your hyggekrog.

Colour it cosy: winter’s the season for spicy coloured kilims and rugs. They look exotic and invoke feelings of warmth and pleasure. Add in seating strewn with textured throws and sumptuous plump cushions, and bring on the chilli chocolate!

Fire it up: basking before a crackling fire in a handsome hearth is ultimate hygge heaven! Raise your glass for a toast – “To Hygge!”


Raising the bar

The word is out and you’d better believe it – bar carts are back!




From bespoke French cabinetry models through to art-deco Hollywood-glam and retro stainless-steel models, the bar cart is your mobile, multi-tasking must-have – something your grandmother could have told you years ago! So, wheel on in the star of the show and please, do note how beautifully it’s dressed.

Top Shelf: soda siphon, whiskey, gin, vodka, brandy, rum, Campari, sparkling wine/champagne, orange liqueur (Curaçao, Cointreau or Grand Marnier), vermouth and aromatic bitters.

Bottom Shelf: shaker tins (small and large), pint glass (for stirring), jigger (for measuring), bar spoon, Hawthorne strainer plus mesh strainer, tonic and soda water (it must be both!), sweet syrup in a glass jug (equal parts sugar and water) Collins glasses, rocks glasses and ice.

On Standby: lemon, lime, paring knife, y-peeler, juicer and measuring cup.

Make mine a whisky on the rocks. Cin Cin!


The Poetry of Graffiti

It was a packed room in Tūranga, Christchurch Central Library, when renowned Canterbury poet, Bernadette Hall, launched Contents Under Pressure, the debut poetry collection by poet, editor and writer Gail Ingram. Gail describes her book as a novella told in poetry.



“It’s set post-quakes, and is about a mother under pressure who sneaks out one night to graffiti an Eastgate Mall wall. She’s got two teenage children – one suffers from severe depression, the other has drug issues.”

The inspiration for the mother’s graffiti is taken from an image of grains of sand, magnified 250 times. “The mother sees each grain as something tiny but beautiful and individual – separated yet all on the same beach,” Gail says.

“It’s a metaphor for Christchurch post-quakes – we were experiencing the same things in the same time and space. The mother wants to acknowledge the beauty of individuals, but also how we’re all, in some way, disconnected and broken.”

Gail says that much like poets reach for their pens in response to trauma, graffiti artists reach for their spray-cans. “Making art is a way to try to understand what’s happening in our lives and a way that we can begin to heal. The mother’s graffiti is an expression of love for her city, but it’s also a protest against the suffering caused in times of disaster.”


All of the illustrations in Contents Under Pressure are by Gail’s daughter, Rata Ingram.

Published by Pūkeko Publications, Christchurch Contact For more information visit Also available at Scorpio Books


Adam Rennie in the Spotlight: Q&A

Metropol catches up with actor Adam Rennie as he prepares for his first production with The Court Theatre from May 11 to June 1 – Hedwig and the Angry Inch.




When did the acting bug first bite you, Adam?
When I was 6 or 7, I was in a production of Oliver and was devastated I wasn’t cast as Oliver and have been on a mission to prove Rockdale Musical Society wrong ever since.

What did it mean to you to make the move from Sydney to New York City?
I’ve always known I wanted to live in NYC. It is the birthplace of almost every show I grew up dreaming of seeing and performing in. NYC is hard and exhausting, but I’m surrounded by incredibly talented and driven people who egg me on and inspire me to grow and push myself.

Of all your stage performances thus far, which role did you most relish playing?
I had such a blast playing Frank N Furter. There is something incredibly freeing and empowering about that character. He’s sexy, funny, powerful and an alien – what’s not to love?

What are the challenges in playing Hedwig in the stage musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch?
Just technically, there is a lot to learn; the show has so many facets to it – stand-up comedy, storytelling, rock music and raw emotional moments. Then you add the makeup, the accent and a character that’s as ferocious as she is vulnerable and you have a lot of moving parts to nail down.

What do you think Christchurch people will love about this show?
It’s a show that defies category. It’s funny and electric energy every night. The music is incredible. I can guarantee a fun time, but it also speaks clearly to all of us and where we are today. How we see humanity and human connections in ‘the other’.

You have described playing Hedwig as a ‘dream role’ – why is that?
Playing Hedwig is the opportunity of a lifetime. She’s arguably the most challenging role in musical theatre and forces me to bring everything I have, every single day. There’s nowhere to hide. On top of that, there are very few roles where I can embrace every part of me. I’m a queer actor and I don’t have to leave that experience at the door; in fact, it’s celebrated! I can’t overstate how grateful I am to have The Court celebrate my uniqueness and show others that they can be celebrated for theirs.

Pick any famous stage/screen actor… who would you most love to perform alongside?
I’d probably choose one of those incredible Shakespeare actors that have also managed to crossover into Hollywood, Ian Mckellan or Patrick Stewart because they have so much gravitas. Wait, also Catherine O’Hara, because she’s an improvising and comedic genius!

What’s up next after Hedwig and the Angry Inch?
I’m honestly not sure; probably a big long nap followed by a few weeks getting the glitter out of everything I own.




Business Stars of the Future

It was very much a red carpeted affair on Tuesday 11 March when a crowd of bright young things gathered to hear who would be announced winner of the Big Break Award for 2018-19 from the Dream Believe Succeed Foundation.

The evening began with last year’s winner, Oliver Hunt, speaking of how the award had significantly contributed to the growth of his company, Medsalv, followed by Emily Hazelwood, founder of the Romer app, who spoke on how much she’s valued the mentoring support of those in the local community in helping her realise her dream of owning her own company. The final speaker was Steve Brooks, the man behind Dream Believe Succeed, who set up the award to raise awareness and develop an entrepreneurial spirit in our region’s youth. Steve spoke of how the foundation is achieving what it set out to do – to cultivate a more nurturing community for young entrepreneurs of Canterbury.

Steve then announced that Chelsea Aitken and Millie Morgan were this year’s Big Break Award winners. New Zealand and Beyond is their business venture; the concept behind it is to create a united storefront for New Zealand brands in the Chinese E-commerce market.
Chelsea and Millie’s prize includes mentoring and support services from companies such as Deloitte, Lane Neave, Sticky Thinking, Sherpa Insurance, Happy Hire and more, plus a cash prize of $20,000 to get their business venture off the ground.

Applications for next year’s award open in September. For more information on the foundation, visit