Day 3 of Unicon XV (30 December 2009) was all about art for me. I toured some of Wellington’s cultural highlights, and watched the convention’s Artistic Pairs Freestyle (Expert) events.
Click on the images for the full-sized copies.
Remember the spotty art gallery I snapped on day 1? This time I went past it I actually had time to go inside, which was fortunate, as there was quite a large queue to get in. This was because the gallery was exhibiting a collection of Yayoi Kusama’s work, which was deservedly popular. A lot of her work is influenced by the hallucinations she suffered in her early life, which explained the polka dots covering the outside of the gallery, and there were more 2- and 3-D dots, squiggles and splodges on the inside.Once through the front door, we were free to wander around, but one of the works, “Fireflies in the Water”, had a queue of its own. This is basically a small room, entirely tiled with mirrors, with a selection of coloured light bulbs hanging from the ceiling. Small groups were allowed into the room by the gallery staff, and then shut in for a minute to comptemplate the infinity. For some reason, I ended up in the room by myself, despite the half hour long queue, which made for quite an intense experience. After lunch, I went to Te Papa Tongarewa, the Museum of New Zealand, which is full of interesting stuff, including Maori artefacts, fabulous costumes, a giant squid carcass and a menagerie of rocks. Te Papa kept me occupied for most of the day, after which my feet were pretty sore, and I didn’t even manage to see all of the free stuff, let alone any of the bits you had to pay for. I had to leave eventually though, as the Artistic Pairs Freestyle (Expert) event was on the convention schedule for the evening, and I didn’t want to miss that.
The normal artistic events are split into several age groups, and are more or less open to anyone who wants to enter. In contrast, the Expert events have much stricter entry requirements, and are only split into Junior Expert and Expert categories.
The winning pair of the event were David Maillard and Gilles Saudan, who brought an interesting twist to one of the established conventions of freestyle acts. In order to introduce more variety into their performances, many competitors change their costumes and music half way through the routine, but this pair went quite a bit further than the usual approach of merely taking off a single outer layer. You can see someone else’s video of their performance here, but I did manage to take a few photos myself:
Having been humbled by this awesome display of artistic unicycling, I headed back to the hostel. I didn’t want to be responsible for Team GB being too badly humbled in the only competitive event I was entering seriously, which was hockey on the following day, so I wanted to get a good night’s sleep.