Thursday, July 28, 2016

Bloomsbury South: The Arts in Christchurch 1933 – 1953 by Peter Simpson
Auckland University Press, $69.99

For two decades in Christchurch, New Zealand, a cast of extraordinary men and women remade the arts. In this book, Simpson tells the remarkable story of the rise and fall of this ‘Bloomsbury South’ and the arts and artists that made it.

Simpson brings to life the individual talents and their passions, but he also takes us inside the scenes that they created together: Bethell and her visiting coterie of younger poets; Glover and Bensemann’s exacting typography at the Caxton Press; the yearly exhibitions and aesthetic clashes of the Group; McCahon and Baxter’s developing friendship; the effects of Brasch’s patronage; Marsh’s Shakespearian re-creations at the Little Theatre.

Simpson recreates a Christchurch we have lost, where a group of artists collaborated to create a distinctively New Zealand art which spoke to the condition of their country as it emerged into the modern era.

About the author:
A writer and scholar who now lives in Auckland, Peter Simpson lived in Christchurch for 25 years and both graduated from and subsequently taught at the University of Canterbury. He knew and worked with many of the Bloomsbury South group. Simpson is the author of six non-fiction books and has edited, or contributed to, many other titles.

A former head of English at the University of Auckland, Simpson was also co-founder and part-time director of the Holloway Press, an institution which drew on the small-press tradition of Lowry and Glover.

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