Issue One: The Garden Party
NZ$5.95 | Reviewed by Amy Brown

Hue & Cry is a very attractive addition to New Zealand’s journal scene. Alongside the likes of Sport, Landfall, Bravado, Takahe, White Fungus and Glottis, it doesn’t appear a bit redundant, its focus being more on aesthetics generally, particularly relating to the visual arts, than simply literature. From its offset printing and burst bound spine, to a well chosen photography inset and carefully designed layout (each contributor’s pages have a specific design to suit the form or content of their work) it is obvious that an equal number of artists as writers have been involved in this project. The fact that it is on sale at more galleries than bookshops (in Wellington it’s available at Enjoy, on Cuba Street, and in Auckland at Gambia Castle, on Ponsonby Road) reinforces this point.

The title of Issue One, The Garden Party, is not an explicit theme, or, as far as I could see, an allusion to Mansfield’s story, but it does lead the reader to make comparisons and associations between pieces which would otherwise appear less than coherently juxtaposed. There are parties and there are gardens, both metaphorical and literal. At the end of Chloe Lane’s unorthodox editorial – more a succinct short story, or a tantalising first page, which describes her discovery of a mushroom growing in the hallway of her flat – she, in response to this miniature inside garden, decides to throw a party.

Reading Tahi Moore’s one-page piece which follows could be described, metaphorically, as being given a quick tour around an impressively overgrown backyard of thoughts. There’s a small but healthy specimen of relationship angst alongside some postmodernism and Freudian allusion, one lonely frond of politics, and everything overshadowed by an appealing idea about art and art shows. Tahi’s last thought leads nicely into Andrea Bell’s hilariously honest article about The Association of Collaboration, a group of Wellington artists and art professionals to which she belongs. Structured as a fictionalised conversation between the group members, Bell’s piece captures well the way that aesthetics meets more mundane forms of communication when artists collaborate. Her riff on the possibilities of a flowchart is particularly funny.

Highlights of the collection are the photography of Olivia Boyle (dense indoor gardens of second-hand furniture), Pip Adam’s short story, ‘Her Daughter’s Life’ (an extremely dark, family tale, which, incidentally, also features a party), and Sarah Gruiters’ photography (energetic, playful pieces giving domestic objects like washing lines, gardens, trampolines, picnic tables and pets a sort of glamour). Kate Montgomery’s ‘Illustrated Tales’, a short, readable essay about Liz Allan’s public art in Christchurch, the ‘Garden City’, is interesting and well-written, too. And the final piece, a heavily pruned transcript of a conversation with medical PhD student, Alex Umbers, about the intersections of art and science is a fitting conclusion to the collection.

The Umbers conversation sums up, in a way, Hue & Cry’s tone and focus. It is thoughtful and erudite, without being dry or overly pretentious; it favours brevity but doesn’t lack substance. If you look past the spattering of typos and misplaced apostrophes (which only a miserable pedant like myself would even bother to mention) you see an exciting, promising new journal.