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On Standing Room Only this Sunday our musical theme is a material back in fashion – or did it ever go away? – wool. The theme is inspired by the launch locally of journal Wool Lover and the range of people, from Janet Frame to Hamish Coney who've written odes to it.

Our content’s not all woolly though, we start after noon considering concerns raised over the voluntary nature of the attendant positions being advertised by Creative New Zealand to look after the New Zealand representative Dane Mitchell’s ambitious exhibition at the Venice Biennale next year. Shortly after illustrator Donovan Bixley sheds new light on Mozart in his new illustrated biography of the composer.

In film we find out more about how women directors from around the Pacific are working together to produce a film that tells a range of stories - based on the acclaimed Maori film model, Waru and on At the Movies Doug Dillaman and Sarah Watt consider Halloween, Westwood and the latest take on A Star is Born. We also speak to Kenyan filmmaker Wanuri Kahiu enroute to New Zealand from the London Film festival whose Cannes screened movie Rafiki has been banned back home because of its Gay content. Last month it was given a week’s release in Kenya to enable it to be nominated for an Oscar and broke Kenyan box office records.

Also on the show: on the Laugh Track our guest is Christchurch's comedian of the year Justin Rusty Smith, as he heads out on another national tour, poet, librettist publisher and mentor Michael Harlow, whose five decades of work has been recognised with a Prime Minister's Literary Achievement Award and writer

Belinda Aycrigg on her novel Ocean Milk, a Kiwi book written in rare magical realist style.

 Finally after the news at 3 Sonia Sly returns with a new episode in her series for sufrrage celebrations of Beyond Kate. All this and an unusual version of Baa Baa Black Sheep.


12:15 Attendant Equity at the Venice Biennale

What could be more wonderful - six weeks in Venice, surrounded by some of the world's best art, flights paid for, an apartment, paid, gaining invaluable experience and connections as an attendant at Dane Mitchell's exhibit for New Zealand at 2019's Venice Biennale. La Bella Vita!

You'll have to work hard though: seven hours a day, six days a week. You'll need experience, with strong knowledge of the visual arts, be able to communicate that knowledge with a demanding (and multilingual) audience and have a high level of proficiency in maintaining exhibitions. Applications are due to Creative New Zealand by the end of November.

Oh and there's one other thing: you won't be paid either a wage, or a stipend.
Its that last clincher that this week saw Auckland art critic Francis McWhannell express concerns about the opportunity - at a time when pay equity issues for artists have been under increasing public discussion. He has written an open letter about it to Creative New Zealand published this weekend on Pantograph Punch.

Is this an opportunity only affordable for those in existing jobs in institutions, or from wealthy families? Different countries have different ways to deal with this. Some at Venice hire locals. Yet neighbour Australia provides attendants with a Aus$70 per day stipend - and there's a special fund on application for those who don't work for institutions.  

And yet the NZ opportunity remains a strong one. One past New Zealand attendant who has gone on to a significant arts institutional role comments:

"I feel lucky to have been given the opportunity. Not least, because I was in the financial position to be able to take 6 weeks unpaid leave and still cover my ongoing costs at home and living costs in Venice myself. Venice is truly a display of the wealth of nations and I suppose the experiences of venue attendants reflect that. Our counterparts at the Australian pavilion were very well looked after with stipends, generous staffing levels and even a cleaner for their apartments. Conversely, the Zimbabwe attendant I met was on her own (no breaks) and bore most of the costs herself.

" I do think there is value in having New Zealanders at the venue presenting New Zealand work. The level to which we support our attendants I suppose reflects the level to which we value work in the arts nationally."

Discussing the opportunity with Standing Room Only's producer Mark Amery are McWhannell and the chair of the Arts Council board Michael Moynahan. Michael has been a member of the Arts Council since 2014 – and was made chair in early 2017.  Michael was present for the opening of Lisa Reihana’s exhibition in May 2017.


12:30 Colour Me Amadeus - Donovan Bixley

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was a child prodigy who played for royalty, and composed some of the most exquisite music ever heard.

These are the basic facts but there's so much more to Mozart, and so many inaccuracies to be put right after the film and play Amadeus' portrayal of the composer.

New Zealand writer and illlustrator Donovan Bixley has just published an illustrated biography about Mozart The Man Behind the Music - 13 years after publishing Faithfully Mozart based on the composer's letters.

The new book's also based on the letters, as well as 100 illustrations offering what he believes is a new perspective on the characterful composer.

Mozart The Man Behind the Music is published by Upstart Press.


12:45  Vai - Pasifika women direct

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Waru was one of the standout films of 2017, a film with interwoven short stories shot by female Maori directors and a predominantly Maori cast.

Now it's the turn of female Pasifika Island women writers and directors to reflect their stories on the big screen, in a feature film called Vai.

Vai is the name of a woman whose story is told through nine different stories filmed in seven different locations around the Pacific.

The directors are talking about Vai at the upcoming Big Screen Symposium in Auckland. Lynn Freeman spoke to two of those involved, Becs Arahanga and Mata Freshwater

Becs wrote and directed the short film Laundry at the end of 2016 and has also just completed filming on her next movie, Hinekura,due for release next year.

Matasila Freshwater's background is in anthropology, film, and animation and her last short animated film Shmeat, was an NZ International Film Festival contender for the country's Best Short Film of the year

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1:10 At The Movies

Doug Dillaman and Sarah Watt consider Halloween, Westwood and the latest take on A Star is Born.


1:33 Wool Lovers Rejoice - A New Journal

A new digital journal has just been launched celebrating all things wool - its history and contribution to the New Zealand economy, the move back to crafts like knitting and weaving after they went out of fashion, and the future for the wonder fibre.

The Wool Lover brings together articles offering different perspectives on wool - from people's memories of learning how to knit and snuggling under woollen blankets, through to research into new ways to use wool, including as a source of protein.

Vivienne Stone and Kirsty Cameron have travelled the country in search of wool related stories and writers.


1:50 Dunedin's The Loom Room - Christine Keller

Dunedin's The Loom Room is another product of the wool revolution. Christine Keller set up the studio several years ago and takes workshops for people interested in learning how to weave. She's amassed all kinds of looms, large and small, and says all kinds of people turn up to try their hand at weaving.


2:06 The Laugh Track - Justin 'Rusty' White

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Our guest is Christchurch's comedian of the year Justin Rusty Smith, as he heads out on another national tour. His picks Jonnny Potts and James Nokise from Wellington, Justine Smith from Christchurch and the grand dame Joan Rivers. 


2:25 Homophobic Ban Briefly Lifted - Wanuri Kahiu's film Rafiki

Filmmaker and writer Wanuri Kahiu's film Rafiki was this year the first Kenyan feature film to screen at Cannes, yet this Romeo and Juliet style story of a lesbian teen romance set in the homophobic environment of a Nairobi housing estate has been banned in its home country after censors took offence to its gay subject matter.

In a remarkable event, last month that ban was lifted for just a week in Kenya to enable Rafiki to meet Oscar qualification rules, and it then proceeded to smash Kenyan box office records becoming the second highest grossing Kenyan film of all time - after just one week of screening. Wanuri continues to fight for its general Kenyan release.

The director of six films, Wanuri Kahiu is part of a new generation of African artists, and co-founder of media collective Afrobubblegum, who promote that African art can be "fun, fierce and frivolous" in the face of familiar African narratives about war, poverty and devastation. You can find a selection of her impressive films online on her website.

Wanuri Kahiu is in Auckland this week for conversations and screenings of Rafiki on Wednesday and Thursday as part of The Big Screen Symposium and then in Wellington and Otaki from next Sunday.


2:40  Adding to the canon - Michael Harlow

Wystan Curnow, Michael Harlow and Renee receiving Prime Minister Literary Achievement Awards.

Wystan Curnow, Michael Harlow and Renee receiving Prime Minister Literary Achievement Awards. Photo: Provided

For half a century Michael Harlow has added to New Zealand's literary canon as a poet and librettist and also as a publisher and mentor.

The American born, Alexandra based writer has just added to his long list of awards and arts residencies and fellowships, the 2018 Prime Minister's Award for Literary Achievement in Poetry. A Jungian psychotherapist he has ten books of poetry to his name. 

He was the Associate and Poetry Editor at the Landfall literary journal for ten years, and has written numerous libretti for expat New Zealand composer, Kit Powell.


2:49 Belinda Aycrigg's first novel Ocean of Milk.

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Magical realism isn't a common genre taken on by New Zealand writers, but it's a natural fit for Belinda Aycrigg who's just published her first novel Ocean of Milk. In the book the Auckland writer has mother of two Amalia wake up in hospital after a motor accident, her memory erased. Not only is she bewildered but so are her family when Amalia acts very differently and even takes a new name. Cynthia Morahan reads for us from Ocean of Milk.


3:06 Drama at 3 - Beyond Kate

Today, New Zealand is made up of a tapestry of diverse cultures. But back when the suffrage movement was taking place more than a hundred years ago, it was largely driven by colonial Pakeha women. At least, that’s what the history books would tell you.  All this and more in this week’s episode of RNZ podcast Beyond Kate.