Ramblings of a much published New Zealand author

09 August 2009

Country Churches of NZ 102. St. David's, Cave, South Canterbury

I wrote and illustrated Country Churches of New Zealand. It was published in 2002 by New Holland, Publishers and is still on sale in bookshops. The publishers have kindly agreed to me re-publishing some of the book’s images and descriptions in this blog.

ST. DAVID’S, CAVE, South Canterbury
I've photographed St. David's Memorial Church, Cave, 35 km west of Timaru, many times but this was the first time I had painted it. It's a difficult subject, the riverbed stones in its walls demand artistic trickery!

It was built in 1930, very much for the same reason as the Church of the Good Shepherd at Tekapo (see 101): to honour the pioneers of its district, particularly the Burnett family.

As with the Tekapo church, in a thousand years when archaeologists and pilgrims go in search of ancient relics, St. David's will still be there. It has the lasting qualities of the Celtic and Saxon churches of Britain. Its design, not surprisingly, won for Herbert Hall the New Zealand Institute of Architects Gold Medal for 1934.

Inside, I was moved by its simplicity, intimacy and stillness: the warm nutty tones of the timberwork, the jewel-like brilliance of the stained glass, and the subtle greys and tans of the stones, so dryly redolent of Canterbury's summertime riverbeds.


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By Don Donovan