October 2018 – Our Coffee History.  The cover of a menu for the French Maid Coffee House by Gordon Walters, held by the Alexander Turnbull Library, from the 1940s.   Walter’s first three exhibitions were held at the French Maid Coffee House in Lambton Quay, Wellington.  This information was omitted from the timeline at the retrospective exhibition of Gordon Walters held at the Auckland Art Gallery.

Walters reinterpretation of the Maori motif and paradigm, the koru, has imprinted itself into New Zealand’s collective consciousness.   Mainly due to the many variations being used by commercial artists for logos etc, such as the Air New Zealand logo.

An interesting apposition to Walters exhibition is “Radical Beginnings” an exhibition also on at Auckland Art Gallery.  Here the Maori paradigm and motifs’ are utilised by Maori artists, trained mostly at Teachers Colleges in the 1950s.  They borrow from the Western Art tradition as Walters borrowed from the Maori tradition.  But the art works in “Radical Beginnings” puts forward a different spirit.  Walters is unmistakably from the Western Art tradition, especially Modernism, pared back art work with little decoration, an international art containing within it a sense of place. 

Detail from a photo of Dennis Knight Turner, Theo Schoon, Gordon Walters, Tom Hutchings in Schoon’s studio in 1940s Wellington, held by Auckland Art Gallery.
Turner and Walters were painters, Hutchings a photographer and Schoon an energetic and gifted designer who could work in any medium he choose to.

During and after the Second World War Wellington had a lively arts scene, one that defined Modernism in New Zealand.  During the 1940s, it was centred on the French Maid Coffee House, which held the first solo exhibitions of Colin McCahon, Rita Angus, Theo Schoon, Barc, Roy Cowan, Sam Caincross amongst others.  Some had shown their work in small exhibitions earlier including Angus who had exhibited at “The Coffee Pot Café” in late 1930s Christchurch.  She also had two paintings in the 1939 Centennial Exhibition in Wellington.  Gordon Walters was twenty at the time and lived next to the Exhibition.

Regulars at the French Maid Coffee House included European emigres, diplomatic corps, senior public servants.  Such people purchased these ‘new works’.  They knew the language of Modern art and considered artists, actors, writers, and so on as their milieu.

Other coffee houses that were part of the art scene were, The Buttery, Man Friday.  Institutions that played an important part were the Wellington Public Library and for two years the Helen Hitchings Gallery.  Later in the 1950s the Modernist scene included the Wellington Architectural Centre, Stocktons Gallery, the Lambton Gallery and Harry Serein’s ‘The Coffee Gallery’.

Detail from a 1944 drawing by Walters ‘Waikanae Landscape’.  Photo taken hand held under gallery lighting.

Walters trained as a commercial artist in the late 1930s and worked as one in the early 1940s.  Skills that commercial artists at the time, were taught was hand lettering, line-work and the making and overlaying of single tones.  These skills were needed to prepare graphic art for screen printing and the metal plates used in lithographic printing, the main graphic art mediums of the time.  The drawing above, and the painting below shows Walters employing that tradecraft over his lifetime.

Archetypical imagery associated with Gordon Walters; ‘Genealogy 5’ from 1971.  Photo taken hand held under gallery lighting.

October 2018 – Barry Linton 1947 – 2018.  Barry Linton was an extraordinary underground comic artist.  At different stages his work could be compared to Robert Crumb or the Hernandez Brothers. However his style was easily recognised as only his.

Over his drawing career Linton's subject matter changed and his style varied.  What never changed was the quality, the meticulous approach to detailing.  Barry the artist was given opportunities to go mainstream, he went there occasionally, but never stayed.  He was eccentric, self-contained and contented in being his own person.

October 2018 – G.I. Street Art.  Travelled out to Glenn Innes to check this year’s Bradley Lane Project.

October 2018 – Karl Maughan.  New Karl Maughan paintings at Gow-Langsford Gallery, coinciding with Auckland Art Week.  Photo taken hand held under gallery lighting.

Karl has a history with coffee, with partners, opening the stand-out café, Rakinos, in High Street, Auckland  in 1991

October 2018 – Terry Stringer.  A new piece of Public art has been unveiled in the neighbourhood.  Terry Stinger’s ‘Hygeia’, outside the Auckland Medical School, opposite the Domain entrance.

The best way to view this work is from a bus going towards Grafton Bridge.

Looking from the South.

Looking from the North.

October 2018 - Gratis Postcards.  We have been asking some of our regular customers to draw or write on the back of postcards, which have been left blank.  All our postcards are printed on art-stock card made by Fedrigoni of Verona.

Liam Mullins


'Miller's 3D Postcard 2' by John Radford.

‘Origami Miller’s’ by John Radford.

October 2018 - Northern New South Wales.  The region is an abundant sub-tropical region with a magical hinterland with a turquoise coastline, three hours flying from Auckland.  A vast area of lush vegetation and interesting communities.

Coffee has been grown in this area since the 1890s.  There is a range of meso-climates, from tropical to frost-free temperate, from bananas to cauliflowers.

The communities have re invented their colonial heritage.  During the 1950s, 60s and 70s it attracted Beats, bohemian, surfers, hippies and communal living and this influence still lingers.

Mullumbimby Community Gardens.

Tallows Beach.

Cape Byron Lighthouse, the most easterly point of the Australian mainland.

The Farm

The Farms Cafe.

Farrants Fresh roadside stall selling their own produce such as, banana’s, passion fruit, avocados and eggs.  They also provides a charming cottage for accommodation.

The owners are Sue and David Peasley.  David is a coffee agronomist who also specialises in banana and passion fruit selection for commercial producers.  David also writes on the history of coffee in Australia from the 1890s to the present day.

Shade grown coffee.

Coffee in flower makes a heavenly fragrance.

Consistent ripening.

The man-cave of everything coffee.

K7 Coffee in parchment for plant propagation.

An unconventional roaster

Checking the roast.

The finished product.  Tastes good too.

Behind the roasting shed a native bee cliff.  Every third bite of our food depends on bees.

Murwillumbah farmers market.  There is a farmers market somewhere, every day, in the northern rivers region.

The coffee cart.

Fresh produce under cover.

An Australiana style cafe in Murwillumbah.

Whole-food shop.

Tiffany Hall shops Bangalow.

Tweed Regional Gallery & Margret Olley Art Centre in Murwillumbah.  Margret Olly (1923-2011) is one of Australia’s more beloved artist.  She was a working artist her whole life.  Many of Australia’s leading art critics consider that as she grew older her art just got better.  From the 1970s she lived in a terrace house in Paddington, Sydney.   The property a-joined what was a hat factory.  In the late 1980s she made the factory her home and studio.  Her home became her muse, painting its interiors with her zany collection of objects and things.  Her Paddington home has been recreated at the Margret Olly Centre along with many of her paintings.

Early drawings by Margret Olly.  All artwork photos taken handheld under existing lighting.

Re-creation of Olly’s home.

Artwork of Margret Olly

ny of her paintings.