Hard News by Russell Brown



I was reminded several times on Friday afternoon what a complex show we were staging at the Orcon Great Blend, but it wasn't really until the formal part of the evening concluded that it dawned on me quite how ambitious it had been.

Thanks to our partnership with The Edge, we were able to produce the Great Blend at a whole new level. The room looked beautiful, and the video projection was superb. The Edge's production staff deserve particular mention for their professionalism, and I gather The Edge's director of lighting, Malcolm Ibell, spent a great deal of his own time making sure it would work right. He declared it "the best use of the Civic ever" afterwards, and he deserves a big chinks of the credit for that.

But the real ambition, I realised after I'd concluded the stage show, was creative. I needed the artists to light up the ideas I'd given them, and they really did. Emily Perkins and Dylan Horrocks in particular inhabited the "performance" of their collaborative comic with such wit and warmth. The audience ooo'd and ahhh'd and cheered the killer lines. They cheered the citations, dammit.

Afterwards, the pair of them signed copies of the comic, All Hail Ellie, Destroyer of Worlds, while a crowd clamoured for each piece of Karl Maughan and Askew's painted work as it was sawed up and brought out. Karl charged around with a big marker pen, splashing his signature onto the back of each piece of board. Part of the aim of the Deep & Meaningful series of which the Orcon Great Blend was part is to bring the public closer to creative artists. I think we nailed that one.

Elsewhere in the evening, Simon Grigg talked with both wit and wisdom about his life in music management, Silke Hartung beamed her way through '99 Luftballoons' and the scene for Grayson Gilmour's set and video shoot was, as Stuart Page observed, Warholesque. (Stuart arrived in the room as Grayson was conjuring some shimmering swelling of sound while Stuart's own 'A.F.F.C.O.' video played out silently on the NZ On Screen showreel. That was the mother of all juxtapositions.)

And, in general, everyone (about 550 of you, reckoned one of the security guards) seemed to have a great time. Thanks Orcon, thanks Quentin Reade and Bronwyn Bent. Thanks to the PA readers who managed the nametags at the base station. Let's do it again some time.

There's some stuff for people who couldn't join us.

You can buy Emily and Dylan's comic here.

And you can see Askew's short documentary video of the creation of his work with Karl – in which one of our best painters gets busy with a spray can.

Peter McLennan blogged the evening, as did Suzi at Kiss My Arts.

Justin Flitter posted a short clip in real time.

Stuart Page turned up on the night and recorded the interview with Simon, which should be available soon. There's some other video that should emerge too.

Steve Barnes and Malcolm Ibell have also posted photographs, but I'm sure there must be more out there. Please do chip in here with any words or images you brought away from the event.

As I've noted before, there are plans to bring an Orcon Great Blend to Wellington and Christchurch in the summer, and I already have some ideas for another round at the Civic Wintergarden, whenever that might be.

Anyway, thanks to everyone who was part of the evening. It was extremely satisfying.

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