Good weekend for visiting the Art Gallery.  Yesterday they played the first of a documentary series on the life of Charles Dickens, and today the first two episodes of The Big Picture, the history of art in New Zealand presented by Hamish Keith.  Both proved to be rewarding. 

Dickens is a complicated figure.  He left parts of his life private to posterity.  Many of those closest to him hurt him and he never forgave them for that.  They became part of his literature, both inspiration and revenge.  Next weekend it is a choice between episode two of Dickens, or Gounod’s Faust from the Metropolitan Opera.  Either could prove to be rewarding.

Best comment from The Big Picture was an observation that when nineteenth century artists portrayed the empty landscape of New Zealand they included a subliminal message: This land available for settlement.  I wonder if that’s what we have been saying ever since?  There is a long tradition of landscape painting produced.

With Waitangi Day tomorrow the government has caused its own controversy by removing reference to the Treaty of Waitangi from the government assets it wants to partially privatise.  This will be simmering tomorrow at Waitangi as the long weekend is observed.  No doubt the government has some elegant plan in place that everyone will see as reasonable.  The doctors of spin will be working overtime.

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