Sunday, October 18, 2015

Historic Churches by Linda Burgess

This somewhat a journey and a guide to some of the most famous and interesting churches in Aotearoa.  Even if you're a non believer you have to acknowledge the power of the collective congregation.  If you head in to Karori's Futuna chapel, you'll know that although architecturally designed, it was build by the parish.  It shows how congregations can summon resources beyond any imagined, traditional methods.  Interestingly, Futuna is not an historical church.  But St John's, Taranaki St Methodist and The Karori Crematorium, all creations of Turnbull, are architectural marvels in a new colony.  They, too were built by the people.  Sure many favours were pulled.  God's phone list includes some very talented craftsmen. 

But this guide gives each church its due, strongly if plainly photographed without much ornamentation, with sometimes interiors and exteriors, each one taking a chapter.
The striking cover features St Gabriel’s, Pawarenga, in the historic Hokianga. 

 Not all the churches are registered as Category 1 by Heritage New Zealand, but many are strikingly pretty and feature strong aspects of Maori art and architecture.

A little dotting and patronising at times, author Linda Burgess points out many interesting facts of her subjects.  You got to admire the amount of work and travel to produce such a comprehensive work.  This is a great work to have on the backseat when exploring by car.  With photographer husband Robert, they've produced a pretty good glossy coffee table book to dip into when motoring about from Northland to Otago to Southland. 

Seriously, though this is a hard book to review.  Because you cant fault the research or the photography.  It's honest and lack the airbrush pretence.  It has some credibility, if not the glamour of a more up market effort.  Which you gotta like.  these are churches.  they are honest, too.
*Note to self - go see Hiona (Zion) St Stephen's Opotiki - at least for the tuki tuki panels which are stunning!

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