The Micronaut

A Kiwi in Venice

Today I am thinking of the Kiwi artist Graham Percy (1938-2008) who I first stumbled upon in Wellington’s City Gallery museum. On that particular day, I was wandering around the museum, and could see that a new exhibit was about to go in. I saw a few pieces outside of the gated main room, and they were enough to get me hooked. Loitering in front of the gate like an arty creeper, I peered around it from various angles, crouching, and craning my neck, trying to get a better view inside. I went back the next day, when The Imaginative Life and Times exhibit opened for real.

Then I really fell in love.

His art and illustrations are the embodiment of creative whimsy, of imagination, wit, humor, and wonder. All qualities I continually strive for. Looking through my New Zealand journal the other day, I found a quote from the exhibit, written in red ink and an enthusiastic script:

Percy’s approach remained very much that of a wonder-struck child, whom the educationalist Fredrich Froebel once characterized as the archetypal “micronaut”–an explorer of the small things, the textures and borders of the everyday and the immediate.”

I would consider my life well lived indeed, if this was in part how I was described at the end of it.

The Trojan Moa
These are all imagined histories about famous composers. (Sorry about the poor picture quality.)

His titles are half of the fun. The following match the above illustrations, clockwise, starting at the top right:

– Franz Schubert emerges from a stream near to Crear with a trout he has caught. This, along with the five watching rabbits, has given him the idea for a quintet. (1891).

– Dvorak, Dohnanyi and Schumann discuss a concert of their works with local residents at Crear.

– Within a Rachel Whiteread installation Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy is reminded of Fingal’s Cave.

– Cuckoo with hunting horn. Crear – early evening.

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