Monday, February 09, 2015


You'd think that there are some things so iconic, so distinctive, so rich in historical flavour that a national or  city museum would just have to get their hands on them, wouldn't you? Milan Mrkusich’s house in Remuera  would have to be one of them, Colin McCahon’s library should have been another, and that easel Rita Angus always used. How could you pass up a draft of Wystan Curnow’s essay High culture in a small province, or Theo Schoon's notes and sketches on South Island cave drawings? Some of these have been protected while others have already slipped into private hands. What’s are the odds on anyone discussing with the Mrkusich family the long-term future of the house Mrkusich designed and lived in for so many decades? Low. 

This rant comes to you courtesy of us seeing one of these icons when we were in Auckland last week. The people we were with mentioned they had recently purchased something very cool at an Art + Object auction. Then they showed it to us. And, we kid you not, it was Len Castle’s Pottery notes sub-titled Len Castle's Mixtures. We're talking about the recipes he used to glaze his ceramics and drawings for constructing kilns. We're  no experts, so have no idea how much of his working life it covers, but even as a sample it is a truly wonderful thing. 

How is it even possible that this little notebook with its handwritten and hand-drawn contents is not part of an Auckland institution’s collection? The same couple also picked up (and at an very reasonable price) some of Castle’s library of books on ceramics as well as (maybe best of all) a couple of boxes of stones and mineral samples that had offered Castle inspiration and information. OK, the institutions can’t collect everything. But Len Castle’s Pottery notes? Surely some mistake.