Philippa O’Brien: From Film to Photography

Photographer Philippa O’Brien travelled the world before coming home to Kingston. Now, her latest adventure is more personal; the opening of a new art gallery at her lakeside cottage. 

Philippa O'Brien in the doorway of her Oxford Art Gallery in Kingston.

In this bright room, you’ll find copies of her three books. ‘Photo Fables,’ (whimsical tales without words.) ‘How Art’ (a book of poems and photos with her Dad, Des.) And ‘Skateface,’ her sensitive portrayal of New Zealand’s roller derby world. 

There are huge, framed photos of cowboys on the gallery walls, part of Pip’s recent rodeo series. 

And what about the carefully-oiled yes/no river stones? These are ‘Seyonstones’ — a tool that Philippa created to “help when you just can’t make up your mind.”

Art photography — on old-fashioned, film cameras — is Philippa’s passion. Her photos are detailed and thought-provoking. The more you look, the more there is to see.

But, before she got behind the lens, Philippa O’Brien had another intriguing career. I’ve always wanted to know more about the world of movie costumes, so I was thrilled when Pip agreed to tell me all about her job as a costumier.

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The Garston Cemetery: A Very Special Shelter

The normally-tranquil Garston Cemetery was a-buzz early in November.

Residents past and present were gathering along with SDC mayor Gary Tong and councillors John Douglas and Rob Scott, for the opening of the cemetery memorial board and shelter. 

The ceremony marked the end of two years planning, fundraising and organising for the Garston Cemetery Trust. Designed by Gordan McMillan and built by Aaron Abernethy and Jordan MacGregor, this lovely little building is one-of-a-kind. 

Cutting the ribbon on the Garston Cemetery Memorial Board Shelter.
Noel McMillan and Gary Tong open the Garston Memorial Boards’ special shelter.
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Road Crash Rescue Shows Fire Brigade Skills at Mossburn

An RCR Team works to free a trapped victim from a flipped car.

Back in August, the Mossburn Volunteer Fire Brigade hosted their first-ever Otago-Southland Road Crash Rescue Competition. It was an action-packed day for the five crews taking part. And it turned out to be riveting for the many spectators who lined the pits. 

I had no idea what I was in for when I drove to Mossburn’s old Silver Fern Farms site early on Saturday morning. But I left in awe of the skills, and dedication of all the fire-fighting teams. You couldn’t help being filled with respect for the organisational skills of the Mossburn Fire Brigade.

Mossburn B Road Crash Rescue team surround a wreck while the judges scrutinize their moves.
The Mossburn B team work out how to rescue a trapped crash dummy in this section, called Entrapped.
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Kingston Memories: Mr and Mrs Ek

Mr and Mrs Eck lived in Kingston, on land stretching down the southside of Kent Street. Now it is a subdivision. When it’s covered in houses will anyone remember that this was once a farm?

My family will remember. And, I’ll always regret not taking photos of Mr and Mrs Eck. Because now I’ve only got memories of an extraordinary couple.

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Jane Sutherland: Fabulous Fashion In Kingston

Fashion designer Jane Sutherland's iconic photo in an armchair by the lake in Kingston.

Last year Jane Sutherland wowed us in Athol with a fashion show at the Hide. It had everything you’d expect: sleek hair, sexy make-up. Lights, music, models — go-getting locals rocked the gorgeous clothes on stage. What a night!

Jane’s known for her signature style. That’s top-quality fabric and timeless design married with hand-made metal jewellery. More than anything I craved the white coat. Wish I didn’t spend half my life hunched over a laptop and the other half with kids or on the farm. 

I know zilch about fashion. So my questions tumbled out when I met Jane at her Kingston studio. After 20+ years in the fashion biz, there was a lot to talk about.

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