Wednesday, March 4, 2009

A short guide to flatting in 1968

Another installment from the Playdate archives.

In 1968 you could get a one-bedder "personalized pad" in Herne Bay for under $10 a week, or an ultra-modern furnished three bedroom flat in Mount Eden, complete with low coffee tables, divan beds, shiny copper light shades and "ceilings of sprayed-on asbestos" -- evidently a desirable feature forty years ago -- for only $26.

Like many of the articles in Playdate, this guide to four typical Auckland flats is an amazing time-capsule; but what caught my attention here is this fabulous photograph of the lounge in a converted Herne Bay villa with its Toss Woollaston painting hanging over the fireplace, and a brushy gestural abstract work next to the "gas caliphont" over the bath. (Ahem. Art gallery registrars all over the country would be having a fit.)

The article reads:
"The whiteness of the room itself accentuates objects. Colours seem brighter, form clearer. The few paintings (McCahon, Angus, Woollaston etc.) read as clearly as type on a page. There are books everywhere--on a desk, on a writing bureau, on bookshelves, mantlepiece and floor. Bessie Smith is singing."
While the various advantages of the flat included briar roses and nasturtiums in the garden and a "first-rate fireplace", the downside was that it was a bit dark and damp: "The light isn't good enough for painting."

Anyone recognise the tenant? (The clue may well be hanging in the bathroom.)

On another matter, Season 5 of Dancing with the Stars has started. (I promised myself that this time I wouldn't watch it, but regrettably as ever found myself glued to every cheesy spangled moment.) This one's harder than most to pick, but I suspect reality-TV veteran (oh, and ex-All Black) Josh Kronfeld will be in the final hunt. Wonder how many series to go before they have a visual artist among the line-up of celebs, and gulp -- who would it be?

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