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Prince George gets his first bike in NZ

Prince George will take his first bike home from New Zealand – an Avanti Lil Ripper 12” bike with a bespoke design.

The Avanti Lil Ripper was gifted to the Duke of Cambridge by Avanti New Zealand founder John Struthers at the official opening of the Avantidrome – an indoor cycling track for all types of cyclists – from beginner enthusiasts to professionals.

British Royal Family in New Zealand

The bike features a bespoke design by Shane Hansen, one of New Zealand’s leading contemporary artists.

John Struthers, Avanti founder, said it is a privilege to gift one of Avanti’s popular children’s bikes to Prince George on his first visit to New Zealand.

“We’re sure, as with all new parents, it will be exciting for the Duke and Duchess to see their son riding his first bike. We understand a child’s first bike has always been a significant event in any family.”

“It is a pleasure to be part of the official opening of the Avantidrome. Avanti is committed to cycling in New Zealand and to continually designing bikes with leading edge technology, for family recreation through to high performance cycling teams. We are excited that this new world-class facility will cater to these groups,” he said.

The Avanti Lil Ripper’s lightweight alloy frame, wheels and no pedals is perfect for teaching balance and confidence in the early years of learning to ride, said an Avanti spokesperson, in a statement. Integrating bespoke artwork personalised the bike for the Royal family and will be a reminder of their time in New Zealand, the statement said.

Artist Shane Hansen said the Big Adventure design was aptly named because a bike signified a “big adventure” for young and old alike.

“The design was created to represent Prince George’s first visit to New Zealand and in a bigger context, his future journey through life.

“Maori motifs signify the planting of seeds, the nurturing and growing of relationships and connection to the people of this land. The flowing nature of the design creates movement, helping to carry Prince George forward and negotiate life’s ups and downs, with a balanced approach,” he said.

A replica of the Prince’s bike has been made as a reminder of the Royal visit and will be on display at the Avantidrome.

Avanti has a long and strong association with cycling in New Zealand and Australia. This includes more than $1m to develop the platform of bikes that will power the Avanti Racing Team during 2014.

Art Lifestyle News Work Abroad

Live-work apartments launched in Sydney


Six affordable live-work apartments are on offer for artists and other creative Sydneysiders as part of the City’s support for the creative community.

The apartments, which feature space to live and work, will be part of the city’s new creative hub on William Street in Darlinghurst.

Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the affordable live-work space initiative – one of the first of its kind in Australia – showed how seriously the council took local creative workers struggling with Sydney’s rental crisis.


“We know how tough it is finding affordable spaces to live and work in the inner city,” the Lord Mayor said.

“Our creative spaces initiatives have housed more than 50 organisations and entrepreneurs in Council-owned buildings, allowing them to showcase their ideas and host hundreds of exhibitions and performances.

“We’re now increasing that support with these unique new spaces.”

The six apartments, on levels one and two of 113-115 William Street, vary in size from 35 to 53 square metres. Each includes a bedroom, bathroom and kitchen, along with a separate space suitable for creative work. Tenants will also have access to a common roof area and shared laundry facilities.

James Winter is the director of Queen Street Studio, a Darlinghurst-based organisation which offers non-profit rehearsal facilities and creative development spaces to artists.

“Artists in Sydney struggle with rising rents, pushing them further out into the suburbs and away from other creative communities,” James said.

“Offering subsidised rent will bring these artists back into the city, which will have a flow-on effect to local culture, business and general liveability for local residents.

“Assisting with their living overheads will mean more creative work gets produced in the city. More contemporary, riskier artists will be encouraged to stay, and Sydney will once again be a city of creative thinkers, makers and doers.”

The City also plans to open up another 14 artist live-work spaces on Oxford Street late next year as part of its long-term creative spaces program.

Art Books Lifestyle

Seminar to explore impact of printing on religion

Dr Rick Weiss

As the internet has changed the way religion is interpreted in recent times, another technology had a similar impact on religion in the 19th century – printing press. The press made religious literature easily accessible, and opened gateways to religious knowledge which untill then was the reserve of the learned.

These are some of the issues that the second New Zealand India Research Institute seminar by Dr Rick Weiss (pictured below) will try to explore. This seminar will be on the 19 April at 5pm in Room 101, 16 Kelburn Parade, Wellington, New Zealand.

Dr Rick Weiss is a senior lecturer at the School of Art History, Classics and Religious Studies, Victoria University of Wellington.

Dr Rick Weiss

Dr Weiss will review the impact of the publication of Tiruvarutpa, a book of verses by the Hindu mystic Ramalinga Adigal in  1867. The book consolidated his place among Hindu saints, and the work served as a centre for his growing community.

At the time of publication, Ramalinga’s poems and teachings were enjoying increasing fame in Chennai and throughout the eastern regions of the Kaveri Delta.

His students had worked for years to publish his poems on a grand scale, says Dr Weiss. “They framed the work as an authoritative Hindu Saiva text. Their success in doing so was confirmed by the vitriolic attack on the work by Arumuga Navalar, a staunch advocate of Saiva ritual.”

In this seminar, Dr Weiss argues that print provided a new avenue for religious leaders and their followers to make claims for textual authority.

“As a technology new to religious communications in South Asia, print provided novel possibilities for such claims, especially for people like Ramalinga, who was without the backing of established institutions.”

Dr Weiss discusses this impact with The Global Indian magazine.

What was the exact impact of the printing technology on the religious beliefs in Colonial India? 

Dr Rick Weiss: The impact of print on Hinduism was significant. Print allowed for very cheap publications, of wide distribution, so it really increased the availability of religious works.

So, many people had greater access to religious writings. Of course, literacy was still low, but people would often share these published works through oral, public readings.

For example, Arumuga Navalar, when he published a version of Periya Puranam in simple, prose Tamil, wrote that literate people should read the work to those who couldn’t read. In Ramalinga’s case, publishing Tiruvarutpa allowed both for the wider circulation of his poems, but it was also printed in the very same way that the canonical works of the Tirumurai, such as Periya Puranam and Tevaram, were being published at the time.

In my seminar, I argue that Ramalinga and his followers, who were alienate from the major Shaiva institutional centres, were claiming an authority for his work that was equal to the Tevaram, all through the printing of Tiruvarutpa.

What was the counter-view (probably by Arumuga Navalar) that was challenged by the works of Ramalinga? 

Dr Rick Weiss: Ramalinga’s work challenged the orthodox Tamil Shaiva views held by those in the mathas, such as Arumuga Navalar. These views were highly caste-based and conservative.

Ramalinga’s views were radical for his time, because he claimed a direct connection to Shiva, even though he was not the head of any major institution. He was also critical of caste, and he had more flexible views about Shaiva authority, texts, etc.

What role did the British play, if at all?

Dr Rick Weiss: This is a very interesting question. Even though print technology spread in part through British/European influence, the British didn’t really play any role in these events.

Tamils bought printing presses and published their own works, independently of the British. The British at the time (1860s) were fairly open in their laws about Indian publishing, and they almost never cracked down on/censored Indian writings.

So, the British had perhaps a very indirect influence on these events, but for the most part, they played no role. This was purely the initiative and work of Ramalinga and his followers.

Art Editor recommends Lifestyle News

Sydney to launch cultural policy

Work in Sydney

“Imagine borrowing musical instruments at the library; evening childcare so parents can have a night out; or unsold theatre tickets going to high school students,” says Lord Mayor of Sydney, Clover Moore.

Clover is keen on improving the Australian city’s cultural landscape, and is seeking ideas from people who live, work and visit Sydney.

“These are just some of the ideas that have emerged so far as we ask Sydneysiders what kind of cultural life they want in the city.

Work in Sydney

“Can we inspire an even richer creative culture? How do we make sure creative people can afford to live and work here? What persuades people to get involved, go out to shows or invest in local work?”

Sydney is drafting its first cultural policy which will work towards improving the use of its assets, offering the right activities, and helping cultural and creative communities to flourish.

Creative industries are the fastest-growing sector in Sydney, contributing an estimated $8.2 billion to the Sydney’s economy in 2012, and expected to account for $14.9 billion of Sydney’s gross domestic product by 2030.

The last Census in 2011 showed 32,000 people working in creative fields in inner city Sydney, an increase of 22.2 per cent since 2006.

The City already invests $34 million each year in free public events, libraries, public art, grant programs and sponsorship of the city’s major arts festivals.

“As arts funding from other levels of government and private investors becomes  uncertain, we need to work (on) how best to support creativity and culture,” the Lord Mayor says.

The city will look at eight areas of improvement for Sydney, including optimising markets for cultural products.

Ralph Myers, who has been artistic director for Surry Hills’ landmark Belvoir theatre since 2011, and has worked across dance, circus, film and opera, is looking forward to sharing his ideas for the cultural policy.

“We’re thrilled by the prospect of a Sydney cultural policy, both as a way of taking stock of the rich artistic life of this fine city, and as a stimulus and inspiration for the generation of even more great stuff,” Ralph says.

“Hopefully it will define culture in the broadest possible terms, both to remove the arts from the elite and shrinking ghetto to which it is so often confined, and to make us all think as openly and playfully about how we can best enjoy life in this great town.”

Performer Vashti Hughes (picture below), whose one-woman cabaret show Mum’s In has been running at the Kings Cross Hotel since last year, said a cultural policy would provide support to independent artists like herself.

Vashit Hughes Mum's In

“Mum’s In applauds the City of Sydney’s first cultural policy as a way to help support interesting and diverse work that is created by Sydney artists,” Vashti says.

“As the city grows, independent artists can fall through the cracks and become invisible so it’s great to see the City get behind the arts and help provide structures so they can be seen and heard.”

The consultation period for the Creative City Cultural Policy Discussion Paper ends  31 May.

To share your ideas, visit

Art Events Featured Lifestyle News

NZ parliament celebrates Diwali

Members of the Indian community from around New Zealand gathered at Parliament last night to celebrate the Diwali. The festival of lights will be celebrated around the world on 13 November this year.

Ethnic Affairs Minister, Judith Collins, welcomed 250 guests, including the prime minister, John Key, community leaders and those from a range of ethnic communities.

The director of the Office of Ethnic Affairs, Mervin Singham, opened the celebration.

“In a multicultural society, it’s important to develop bonds of respect, friendship and understanding across people from diverse backgrounds. Without these, we cease to be communities,” Mervin said.

The Indian High Commissioner to New Zealand, Avanindra Kumar Pandey, told the audience that New Zealand is a very welcoming place and the remarkable warmth of its people helps to cement the friendship between the two countries.

The President of the New Zealand Indian Central Association, Paul Singh Bains noted that Diwali is celebrated around the world and is a time when family takes centre stage and people have time to reflect on their achievements.

The lighting of the traditional diya – or lamp, he said, signifies love, joy, pride and hope.

A traditional floor decoration, or Rangoli, made from coloured powder formed a vibrant feature at the entrance to the Banquet Hall. The Hindu Council of New Zealand organised the Rangoli created by artist Sudha Thomas with help from a youth Interfaith group from Wellington.

Diwali new zealand

New Zealand prime minister, John Key, talks to young participants in Diwali celebrations as the ethnic affairs minister, Judith Collins, looks on.

Art Lifestyle

US airport hosts Indian deities

Hindu deity exhibition San Francisco Airport Museum

Lord Ganesha and other deities are on display at an exhibition at San Francisco airport in the United States.

The exhbition, which opened this month will be on display till February 2013 and features Hindu sculptures borrowed from the collections of San Francisco’s Asian Art Museum.

These are profound expressions of veneration from the world’s oldest living religion, says the exhibition page on SFO Museum website.

These scriptures date back to the seventh and eight centuries when they were carved from stone on temple walls or rendered from wooden sculptures made more than one thousand years later for use in religious processions.

“Sculpture is an essential part of Indian civilization; a culture that dates back to ancient times and has flourished uninterrupted to the present,” says the exhibition page. “It is fundamentally important to India’s nearly one billion Hindu adherents.”

Many cave temples in India date back to the third to seventh century, and preserve the history of Indian sculptures, many of which were carved with bare hands and stand testimony to the devotion of the carvers. Most of these sculptures took a lifetime to produce and have stood the test of time.

The historic monuments in the southern part of India were developed around the seventh and ninth century and represent the dynasties of the Pallavas and the Pandyas.

Outside India, Indian art and sculptures are preserved in the British Museum, in the Victoria and Albert Museum, and in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Praising SFO Museum for exhibiting Hinduism focused artifacts, Rajan Zed, President of Universal Society of Hinduism, said that art had a long and rich tradition in Hinduism and ancient Sanskrit literature talked about religious paintings of deities on wood or cloth.

Rajan urged major art museums of the world to frequently organize Hindu art focused exhibitions, thus sharing the rich Hindu art heritage with the rest of the world.

Hindu deity exhibition San Francisco Airport Museum

Created in 1980, SFO Museum was the first cultural institution of its kind located in an international airport.  Every year, the museum attracts many of the 40 million passengers who use the airport. The exhibitions are an established tradition enjoyed by frequent visitors from the San Francisco Bay Area and travelers from all over the world.