Category Archives: 365 Places

365 Places: St Kevin’s Arcade

Day 89: St Kevin’s Arcade, Auckland, Aotearoa NZ

Today was our first day exploring K Road, the site of my latest Augmented Reality project: Finding the Ghosts of K Road. We met up with K Road historian, Edward Bennett, who has generously shared with us much of the local history of this part of Auckland.

We had coffee at Alleluya, a wonderful coffee shop in St Kevin’s Arcade. St Kevin’s is a lovely 1920s arcade with many of the original shop fronts, complete with lead lighting windows, which feature lots of fab recycled fashion and secondhand goodies.

St Kevens : Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 370-9315
St Kevens : Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 370-9315

St Kevin’s was originally the site of a mansion which was the home of Lawrence David Nathan. Here is some of the history of the original site as documented on the K Road website:

In 1845 the merchant David Nathan built a house for himself on the Karangahape ridge with a view of the fledgling town of Auckland (which at that time extended no further than about Victoria Street)…In 1916 the Nathan family gave a 20ft right of way along the eastern boundary of their St.Kevens property to serve as the entrance to Myers Park from Karangahape Road.
The Nathans were possibly already contemplating moving from their house, as indeed they did around 1918. Their house, St Kevens, was demolished around 1922 and as a result of their gift part of the site was redeveloped as St Kevin’s Arcade in 1924.

St Kevens certainly was an impressive building and the image of the dining room shows the elegant life that the Nathan family had in this house.

Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 370-9300
Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 370-9300

It is really exciting to be finally discovering these places in the flash, rather than through old photographs and Google Street View. After our coffee, Edward took us for a walk around some of the places that are explored in Finding the ghosts of K Road. I feel like I have only just scraped the surface of this fascinating place in my project and hope to learn more over the coming days.


365 Places: Karangahape Road

Day 88: Karangahape Road, Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand

In an earlier post, I spoke about a forthcoming augmented reality project that I will be presenting as part of the ADA Mesh Cities Symposium in Auckland. The project titled Finding the Ghosts of K Road will explore Auckland’s oldest street, hopefully uncovering some of the ghosts of the past though the imagery of the old photographs of the streetscape.

Tivoli Theatre: Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 1-W1606
Tivoli Theatre: Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 1-W1606

Something that has been really wonderful about developing this project is the help and support I have received from some of my artist friends, who have generously shared stories about K Road. For example, Trudy Lane shared some very interesting information about some of her ancestors who lived in the area. The story below is very sad about the loss of a number of her ancestors. Trudy writes:

My Great Great Grandfather — Captain William Solloway Lane — died at sea in 1893, failing to return from a voyage to Tasmania. With him on board was his wife Lucy’s sister-in-law and her youngest sister. She was pregnant with twins at the time. 3 days after giving birth to them, Lucy died. One of the twins also died two days later.
Captain William Solloway Lane, died April 1893
Christina, born 11 April, 1893
Lucy Lane, died 12 April, 1893

In the material she sent me was a story of how this tragedy impacted the then small community of Auckland. I have transcribed this text from the images below:

This sad chronicle so moved everyone in the then small town of Auckland that people lined the streets from Ponsonby to Symonds Streets as the funeral cortege for Lucy Chiffinch Lane and her baby passed by.

Here are the images from Trudy.

Trudy also informed me about the work of historian Edward Bennett, who has done extensive research on K Road. I have subsequently been in touch with Edward and he has been a great source of guidance for the walk, and hopefully will be our tour guide on the day!

The walk is scheduled for the 12th September and will start at Artspace in Karangahape Road at 15:15.

Here is the map – in progress:

I am really grateful for being guided by the experts for this project, people who have an intimate knowledge of K Road. It really helps me to get a better sense of the place I am exploring, which I hope will result in a richer experience for people doing the walk.

It is not long until we will be in Auckland for the Symposium – can’t wait!


365 Places: Pushkar

Day 87: Pushkar, India

I am still continuing my daydreaming about India and today will have a look at Pushkar – a town famous for its annual two-week camel fair.

Image Credit:
Image Credit:

A website promoting the event says:

Held each November at the time of the Kartik Purnima full moon, Pushkar Camel Fair is one of India’s most highly-rated travel experiences, a spectacle on an epic scale, attracting more than 11,000 camels, horses and cattle and visited by over 400,000 people over a period of around fourteen days.

For visitors it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to witness the colour, spectacle and carnival of one of the last great traditional melas, which brings livestock, farmers, traders and villagers from all over Rajasthan.

What is really interesting is that during the camel fair, the town’s population swells from 15,000 to 200,000 during the two weeks. Visitors are accommodated in tents, though from what I understand, this is glamping at its best. For those initiated to glamping, it is camping with style – a lot more effort to set up but usually with all the comforts of home, just under canvas.

Image Credit:
Image Credit:

I also love the etymology of the word Pushkar. Wikipedia says:

Pushkar in Sanskrit means blue lotus flower. Hindus believe that the gods released a swan with a lotus in its beak and let it fall on earth where Brahma would perform a grand yagna. The place where the lotus fell was called Pushkar.

Pushkar is also one of the oldest cities of India. The date of its actual founding is not known, but legend associates Brahma with its creation. It is also one of the few places in the world where they are temples to Brahma and the Brahma Temple in Pushkar is very famous, being built during the 14th century CE . Although Pushkar has many temples, most of them are not very old because many were destroyed during Muslim conquests in the region, causing many to be rebuilt. Pushkar is also considered one of the five sacred dhams or pilgrimage sites for devout Hindus.

Image Credit: Redtigerxyz
Image Credit: Redtigerxyz

We are very much looking forward to visiting Pushkar, it sounds like a paradise for photographers and the thought of the camel fair with its colour, movement and dust is really enticing.


Al-Hind: The Slavic Kings and the Islamic conquest, 11th-13th centuries, p.326

Where would you like to go today: Pushkar Camel Fair (accessed 27 August 2014)

365 Places: Kochi

Day 86: Kochi, Kerala, India

Today, I am staying in the region of Kerala to explore the coastal city of Kochi. Although Thiruvananathapuram is formally the capital of Kerala, Kochi is considered the financial capital of region. Kochi has a population of more than 2 million, making it the biggest urban centre in Kerala. It is also one of the major tourist destinations in India.

The Chinese fishing nets at Fort Kochi are an icon of the city, Image Credit:
The Chinese fishing nets at Fort Kochi are an icon of the city, Image Credit:

One of the events I am drawn to is the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, held in December. I am also curious the explore Kochi as one of my good friends loves it so much she spends 4 months a year based in Kochi.

The Biennale sounds like a fabulous event. Here is some information from the website:

The Kochi-Muziris Biennale is an international exhibition of contemporary art being held in Kochi, Kerala.

The first edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale was set in spaces across Kochi, Muziris and surrounding islands. There were shows in existing galleries and halls, and site-specific installations in public spaces, heritage buildings and disused structures.

Indian and international artists exhibited artworks across a variety of mediums including film, installation, painting, sculpture, new media and performance art.

Through the celebration of contemporary art from around the world, The Kochi-Muziris Biennale seeks to invoke the historic cosmopolitan legacy of the modern metropolis of Kochi, and its mythical predecessor, the ancient port of Muziris.

I love the idea of the engaging the ancient world and culture through contemporary art and emerging media, very appealing. I think it would be an amazing experience to witness the biennale.

St. Francis Church, Kochi, Image Credit:
St. Francis Church, Kochi, Image Credit:

The story of the ancient city of Muziris is also fascinating. Located 30 km from Kochi, Muziris was a prosperous seaport and financial centre in the 1st Century B.C. It is believed the city was washed under the sea during the 1341 AD Periyar river flood. Muziris was a key link in the Indo-Roman Empire and Indo-Greek trade routes and drew legions of Roman, Greek, Chinese, Jewish and Arab traders.

Something else I find really interesting is that Kerala and Kochi are world-famous for the ancient healing art of Ayurveda. This 5000 years old healing tradition is known to heal chronic illnesses naturally. Apparently there are hundreds of government-run and private Ayurvedic hospitals and treatment centres are spread across the state that offer Ayurvedic treatment for almost every health condition. This is also something that I am drawn to as I have had an interest in Ayurveda for many years and would love to learn more about this natural healing tradition.

The more I learn about India the more curious I become, I can’t wait to experience some of these places for myself. I am sure it will be an incredible journey.

365 Places: Kerala

Day 85: Kerala, India

Earlier this year I wrote about Thiruvananathapuram, the capital city of the Kerala region, which is situated near the southern tip of India.

The world famous Kovalam beach, well known for fun and frolic, Image Credit:
The world famous Kovalam beach, well known for fun and frolic, Image Credit:

This region of India is quite different from the majority of India as large parts of Kerala did not come under British Rule; even though it was the place in India where European colonisation first started. The Portuguese were the first to discover a direct sea route between Lisbon and Kozhikode in Kerala, and this marked the beginning of European colonisation in the country. Soon the Dutch, French, Italians and British were all drawn to the wealth of spices and silk, coming with the intention of forming colonies.

Wiki Travel says:

Large parts of Kerala were not subject to direct British rule. Malabar was a district of Madras Presidency under direct British rule, but Tiruvithamkoor (Travancore) and Kochi (Cochin) regions were autonomous kingdoms ruled by Maharajas during the period of the British rule in India, and were known for their progressive attitude which resulted in various welfare reforms, particularly in the areas of education and health care.

I imagine that this part of India might be quite different culturally with the Portuguese influence and history.

The most popular Hill station of Kerala - Munnar, Image Credit:
The most popular Hill station of Kerala – Munnar, Image Credit:

It is said to have a very diverse ecology, with beautiful beaches and rain forests as well as spectacular hills, like in this image of Munnar above. Kerala, is very close to equator and has a tropical climate. Kerala experiences heavy rains almost throughout the year, and is considered one of the wettest areas on the earth.

A typical houseboat floating down the backwaters near Alleppey in Kerala. Image Credit:
A typical houseboat floating down the backwaters near Alleppey in Kerala. Image Credit:

One of the reasons I am attracted to Kerala is the fact that people in this region of India still live a largely traditional lifestyle. I think it would be wonderful to witness a site in India where much of the rich culture and heritage is well-preserved. From what I understand India is a country of great contrasts and many cities are fast becoming contemporary urban centres. It would be refreshing to experience a place where traditional lifestyles are still maintained.

365 Places: Agra

Day 84: Agra, India

No journey to India would be complete without visiting Agra, the home of the Taj Mahal.

But the Taj is not the only thing worth visiting in Agra as it has three UNESCO World Heritage sites: the Taj Mahal, the Agra Fort in the city and Fatehpur Sikri nearby. There are also many other buildings and tombs from Agra’s days of glory as the capital of the Mughal Empire.

The Taj Mahal, Image Credit:
The Taj Mahal, Image Credit:

The Taj Mahal is world-famous as a monument to love. It is an immense mausoleum of white marble, built between 1631 and 1648 by order of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his favourite wife. The translation of Taj Mahal means Crown Palace. The Taj is well-preserved and considered one of the masterpieces of Indian Muslim architecture.

Wiki Travel says:

The Taj Mahal has a life of its own that leaps out of marble, provided you understand that it is a monument of love. The Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore called it a teardrop on the cheek of eternity, while the English poet, Sir Edwin Arnold, said it was Not a piece of architecture, as other buildings are, but the proud passions of an emperor’s love wrought in living stones. It is a celebration of woman built in marble, and that is the way to appreciate it.

From what I understand the best way to get to Agra from Delhi is by train, though I understand that the fastest way is via a new freeway which opened recently. Agra is about 200 km southeast from Delhi and is one of the points of the tourist’s Golden Triangle of Agra-Delhi-Jaipur. Agra is also very well connected via rail and road to other nearby cities and tourist destinations.

The antechamber to Akbar's tomb at Sikandra, Image Credit:
The antechamber to Akbar’s tomb at Sikandra, Image Credit:

The Taj Majal and Fort Agra are two key sites to see in Agra, but as I mentioned earlier, there are many, many more. For example, Itmad-Ud-Daulah’s Tomb (sometimes called the Baby Taj), Mariam’s Tomb and the Jama Masjid all sound like very interesting places to visit.

Agra is one of those places that you have to see when you visit India – we will certainly make sure it is on our list of destinations.

365 Places: Udipur

Day 83: Udipur, India

In The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, the residents of the hotel in Jaipur venture on a trip to the nearly city of Udipur, famous for its beautiful lake.

Gangaur Ghat, Udaipur, Image Credit:
Gangaur Ghat, Udaipur, Image Credit:

Udaipur is referred to as the “Venice of the East,” the “Most Romantic City of India” and the “Kashmir of Rajasthan” (a reference to Dal Lake) because of the lake and the building which surround it. The city is situated in the heart of the Aravalli Hills, and has three interconnected lakes: Fateh Sagar Lake, Lake Pichhola and Swaroop Sagar Lake.

The City Palace Museum, Image Credit:
The City Palace Museum, Image Credit:

It is also a place that is famous for its beautiful palaces and temples. For example, the City Palace Museum looks like a definite place to visit.

Royal cenotaphs in Ahar, near Udaipur. Image Credit:
Royal cenotaphs in Ahar, near Udaipur. Image Credit:

Udipur certainly sounds like a colourful place with a very interesting mix of people. Wiki Travel says:

The city is still inhabited by people of the Bhil tribe. Udaipur dwellers are really friendly and good to be with. Here, people usually prefer wearing bright colored clothes. Colorful festivals and fairs depict the cultural prosperity of Udaipur.

From what I have read, the most famous festivals are the Mewar Festival and the Shilpgram Fair. At these events, many of the tribal desert people take part in the festival activities, making them a very colourful affair.

This is another destination on our dream trip to India, which we are currently planning for later in the year.

Fateh Sagar Lake, Image Credit:
Fateh Sagar Lake, Image Credit:

Udipur sounds like a beautiful and fascinating place – I can’t wait to visit!

365 Places: Jaipur

Day 82: Jaipur, India

Earlier this week we watched a wonderful film about a bunch of English retirees who move to this wonderful, falling down, chaotic palace in Jaipur. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a wonderful tale, full of great characters, a lovely story and a stunning setting. It also featured some of my favourite actors including Judi Dench and Bill Nighy.

The shining star of this movie had to be this wonderful city in India, which was presented as a complex place, where old traditions and new technologies collide, against the background of a city full of colour, noise and activity..

Film Poster, Image Credit:
Film Poster, Image Credit:

Jaipur is known as the ‘Pink City’, which is a reference to its distinctly coloured buildings, originally painted this colour to imitate the red sandstone architecture of Mughal cities. Wiki travel says:

The present earthy red color originates from repainting of the buildings undertaken for a visit by the Prince of Wales in 1876.

In this part of the world, pink is traditionally a colour associated with hospitality. The tradition of painting buildings pink has been maintained ever since the visit of the Prince of Wales, when Maharaja Ram Singh made the request. Interestingly, today all residents in the old city are compelled by law to keep the pink colour. Maharaja Ram Singh also built the Ramgarh Lake to supply water to the burgeoning city.

The city gets its name from its founder Maharaja Jai Singh II (1693-1744), who was known as a  great warrior and astronomer. He came to power at the age of 11 after the death of his father Maharaja Bishan Singh.

There is a fascinating history in the region of Rajastan of feudal alliances and rival families. Jai Singh’s lineage can be traced back to the Kucchwaha Rajput, clan who came to power in the 12th century. They were long-term rivals to the Sisodia Rajputs who ruled from Mewar. This rivalry led them to ally with the Mughals, and this alliance resulted in them eventually gaining a pre-eminent position in Rajasthan.

Jaipur was also India’s first planned city and the largest city in Rajasthan. It was also a city that gradually came under control of the British after the war of independence in 1857. Wiki Travel says:

After Jai Singh’s death in 1744, his sons squabbled for power and without a monarch, the kingdom became open to invasion and neighboring Rajput states and the Marathas usurped large areas of kingdom. The core, however, remained part of the kingdom, which lasted during British times. As with the Mughals, Jaipur maintained good relations with the British and during the war of independence in 1857 remained loyal to the Raj. Yet, the British gradually began to undermine the independence of the state and exercised greater control over the administration.

Aside from this rich history, I understand the Jaipur is rich in markets, monuments and temples- all things I love to explore when I am travelling. Jaipur is also known as the gems and jewelry capital of the world,  and it is famous for its many jewel merchants, which is something else I would love to see.

Rajasthan's Legislative Assembly situated at Jaipur during festival season. Image Credit:
Rajasthan’s Legislative Assembly situated at Jaipur during festival season. Image Credit:

We are planning a trip to India and Jaipur is one of our planned destinations. I can’t wait to see this wonderful city and all that it offers. I hope too that we might find the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel – just for fun.

365 Places: The National Arboretum

Day 81: The National Arboretum

Yesterday we went to the National Arboretum which was a great way to spend a bit of time on a Saturday afternoon.

The Visitor’s Centre is a beautiful building, with some stunning design features which I hope I have captured below. The use of local timbers and stone has been used to great effect and it is a lovely building to enjoy both from the inside and the outside.

National Arboretum © Tracey Benson 2014
National Arboretum © Tracey Benson 2014

What is the Arboretum?
An arboretum (pronounced ar-bo-re-tum) is a collection of living trees, cultivated for conservation, scientific, research and educational purposes.

The National Arboretum Canberra first opened in February 2013, and has attracted many visitors from Canberra, Australia and around the world. The Arboretum website says that:

It is already contributing to the protection of tree species and tree diversity world-wide, as well as generating new research and understanding about how trees grow, survive and adapt.

The aim of the Canberra Arboretum is to become one of the great arboreta in the world; a place of outstanding natural beauty, community amenity and scientific value.

The  Arboretum  is home to 94 forests of rare, endangered and symbolic trees from Australia and around the world. More than 48,000 trees grow on the 250 hectare (618 acres or 2.5 million square metres) site, with species from over 100 countries. Map of the Arboretum (PDF). You can also take a number of walks around the Arboretum. At the Village Centre you can get a free map of the self-guided walking trails or downloaded the guide here (PDF).

Here are some pictures:

Maybe next weekend we might do a walk through the Cork forest.

365 Places: Connecting Nodes

Day 80: Finding more connections.

A friend recently sent me a blog post which had relevance to some of my earlier posts about making connections between worlds: especially my post about the Yorta Yorta people and their work with scientists in Barmah National Park.

Making connections
Making connections

This particular post titled tcg’s 10 ways Social Media and Sustainability Align in the Corporate World by Alasdair Munn focuses on how social media and environmental sustainability have some synergies that align in the corporate world. Very interesting connection I must say and one that resonated for me. The blog post was inspired by another post about these two topics by Max Gladwell titled, Ten Ways that Social Media and Sustainability Align.

Munn says:

Most definitions for social media focus on its technologies; however this is a very static and limited view. At tcg we acknowledge that social media is a growing phenomenon enabled through adaptable technology; however, it is also about connecting people and facilitating collaboration, engagement, learning and the progression of ideas.

I definitely agree that often people get ‘social media’ confused with the technology or platform they are using, when in fact it is about the social behaviours of engagement, sharing and collaboration between individuals and communities online.

He then states that when it comes to defining sustainability, there are a number of definitions out there, which vary widely:

The World Commission on Environment and Development suggests that sustainability is defined as forms of progress that meet “the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.”

I rather like the definition of environmental sustainability by Griffith University:

Environmental sustainability refers to the environmental actions or impacts of what we do. In moving towards sustainability, we are attempting to reduce our ecological footprint or to tread more lightly on the Earth. This equates to reducing the amount of resources we use (and buy), the waste we produce and the emissions we produce. With every action impacting on the planets ecosystems, from the local to the global, the world is changing and it is not just the climate.”

I like the fact that Munn links both entities as practices that started as grass roots movements, which have grown corporate legs, getting mainstream buy-in over time. He says:

For example, social media tools and applications, developed for social networking sites, have grown to have wider commercial uses. Think about how Facebook radically changed how organizations aggregate news stories and information through the introduction of news feed. The sustainability movement started out as a co-op for sourcing bio diesel fuel or sustainable produce and has escalated to achieving mainstream attention and buy in.

The other thing that Munn acknowledges is that there needs to be a system thinking approach. This is so true when we think about sustainability, and why it is so important to learn from cultures who consider their environment as intrinsic to all other aspects of life, as discussed about the Yorta Yorta people.

When we consider success in terms of social media engagement, cross channel or cross media approaches work best: as this approach has the biggest reach and provides the best opportunity to communication to people ‘where they are’.

The last paragraph of the article sums up the importance of thinking holistically and having an integrated approach:

Rolling out a sustainability program within a corporation takes hard work, determination, communication and commitment. Social media tools and applications help with the integration, communication, learning, participation and momentum. Once these elements are sorted out internally, the same social media tools and applications can be used to externalize the message and objectives. Adopting a social media strategy within and organization so that it truly integrates all elements only works if it follows a sustainable model. Tagging on bits of technology, or trying to participate in social media externally to the organization cannot lead to lasting or holistic results.

I love to think about these nodes of connection as they are about inclusion and the overlapping of knowledge or being. Western ways of thinking have long promoted silos, separated categories of knowledge that do not have relationships to other concepts or ‘fields’ of knowledge.

Claire Gregory's Permaculture gardenCC BY-SA 3.0
Claire Gregory’s Permaculture garden CC BY-SA 3.0

For some reason I am now thinking of the difference between mono-agrilcultural methods compared to the practice of permaculture gardening. One method strips the soil bare of nutrients and the other continually feeds over the seasons by way of planting different crops and building layers of nutrients which feed and enrich the ground and the plants in it. Finding the connections between different worlds has the same benefits, by being open to different stories and experiences our own knowledge of the world grow and blooms. Must be time to get out in the garden!