Hello from home with Greta van der Star

April 30, 2020

As we transition from alert 4 to 3, we close our hello from home series with a woman who we really admire - creative, talented and thoughtful Greta van der Star. With a unique eye for capturing beautiful moments, we speak with Greta on how she has spent her days over the last couple of weeks, in lockdown.

 

Are you still taking photos in lockdown and if so, what is inspiring you? 
My cameras are having a rest! I've been taking photos on my phone of the beautiful light in our home, yummy meals my husband has cooked me, and discoveries around the neighbourhood. I'm also using the time to finish personal projects such as editing a short film from Mexico and preparing for an exhibition - that may or may not go ahead at the end of May!

 

What should we be reading / watching / making right now?
Watch: I finally saw Parasite and was blown away! It's an incredibly beautiful and clever comparison of two families living in completely opposite socio-economic circumstances. If you enjoy Parasite I also recommend Shoplifters, a Japanese film that won the Palm d'Or at Cannes. It's a beautiful modern analysis of what family can look like in a modern-day. I think about that film often. Both are available for hire on iTunes.

Read: I've just fininshed Girl by Edna O'Brien, it's one you can consume in a few quick sittings. It's fiction based off the experience of survivors and community members affected by the Boko Haram school kidnappings, it's harrowing, but also there are lines of hope you find relief in. Grand Union, by Zadie Smith, is a collection of short stories set in New York that are very humorous and full of wisdom. 

Do: We have been very food focussed, making our own tortillas, plenty of slow cooks and broths. I also finally completed a natural dye experiment with avocado pips that has been on my list for a long time! I dyed fabric for different lengths of time over a couple of days and now have a range of peach fabrics to make napkins from.

 

Where is the last place you travelled to within New Zealand or Internationally and how did it inspire you? 
I spent November in Oaxaca, Mexico doing the Pocoapoco residency. It's a city surrounded by mountains and has a very special energy. Many locals still practise traditional crafts, we visited a candle maker who had been hand pouring beeswax candles for 74 years, rug weavers using only natural dyes, mezcal makers and ceramists who were wood firing their pieces. As well as an immense sense of pride in the work and method, there is an openness that welcomes you in to exchange stories. Not to mention the food, the celebrations, the rituals... I learnt a lot about ceremony, the healing you can achieve through establishing practises and a sense of connection to the community through shared experience. My favourite was walking through a cemetery, following pathways of marigold petals and drinking mezcal with strangers, toasting their ancestors on a warm night thick with festivity, blaring music and smells of food.