Masterton a movie star's playground

How can you know if others discern the same thing as you do, in works of art as well as in life? I shook my head in puzzlement at this week's photograph of Kate Winslet and her latest husband strolling down Masterton's main street.

I was born in Masterton, spent the earliest years of my life there and suspect that I'm related to half its population. It is the very last place I would choose for a honeymoon myself, but I'm willing to accept that to these world-weary English people it may resonate with a quaint sophistication that I am numb to.

Winslet and her husband, Ned Rocknroll, seem to be staying at Peter Jackson's palace outside Masterton. There were no such palaces in my day, though one of the town's two picture theatres had an exciting goldfish pond in the foyer, all lit up. That would have been a thrill for Kate to see, the high point of her visit, but I expect it's gone. I hope she gets a chance to walk across the swing bridge by the park. I hated it when I was a child, but someone more urbane could well derive pleasure from wobbling over it.

And there is also the famous duck pond in the park, where I spent many a lively hour as a tot, as my mother's Box Brownie photographs testify. My first word, she said, was duck. I trust she was not mistaken.

The park, once a classic colonial-style treasure, all of a piece, has been pulled apart and uglified by some bright spark with an artistic mission. Kate might like the look of it.

A hop, skip and jump away lie the tombstones of my relatives, well smothered with graffiti in the town's old graveyard. I should amend that. They are adorned with a fashionable art form.

Possibly there is a young Basquiat at work there from the problematic Cameron Block, which is worth a drive- through if you make it snappy.

One house there was listed recently as the cheapest for sale in the Wellington region. Perhaps it would make a cosy love nest for the newlyweds.

Or perhaps not.

I like the tree-lined older streets on the opposite side of town, the big houses down lush driveways, in small private parks. Nasty modern offices are creeping along these streets, so it's a case of looking now before the ambience is gone forever, if the couple care for extinction.

I guess the former homes of my relatives would hold scant appeal, but I could supply an artistic map with twiddles.

I remain juvenile in some areas of art appreciation, like ballet, where male dancers in tights make me want to laugh as much as they did when I was a kid. Bearing that in mind, I'll be giving the current Auckland exhibition of male nudes a swerve.

You can gush all you like about the beauty of the male form, the Greeks and Romans and tales of the gods, as the blurb for the show does, but I would only make trouble if I was let loose there.

I'm not all that fussed about female nudes, for that matter, though no nude has amused me more than a male nude I met in someone's house, with an aroused member in pride of place. How chic.

The James Wallace Arts Trust, which presents the nudes show, boasts a "sensational" selection of male nudes from the very grown-up Wallace Arts Trust Collection. How kind of it to share.

But the art buzz of the week has to be Newtown artist James Ford's vomit-on- a-mirror work entitled Mirror #6.

This prize-winning work emanated, we're told, from the artist's feeling that he lacked inspiration and wanted to chunder.

Both concepts merge in the piece, comprising a mirror and a hefty splash of melted crayons in which a yucky yellowish hue dominates.

I'm looking forward to a critique of this thoughtful work in a suitable art forum.

I am quite easily amused.

The Press