Stranger on the sky-bridge

For the past couple of months I have seen this old Maori man sitting in the chair on the sky-bridge between the PWC Tower and the Westfield shopping centre.  I walk that way almost every day and he is always there.  His face is very weathered, he has striking eyes and long curly salt and pepper hair.  He reads the newspaper and a novel over the day.

I have wondered who he is and what is his story…and would he be a good candidate for my exhibition.  He looked like a really interesting man who would have some great stories.  Today I plucked up the courage to sit down next to him and introduce myself.

His name is Mac and he is 70 years old.  He tells me he is 100% Maori.  His face looks like one of Goldie’s portrait subjects, with his ageing wrinkled skin and striking features.  I tell him this and he is a unsure if that’s a good thing, I reassure him it is a compliment.   I tell him what I am doing and ask if he would be interested in being a participant for my exhibition.  He agrees and we start a very lengthy conversation that would last for about an hour or so.

I ask him about his life.  Apparently he lives in Kansas and owns a ranch there, which he has just sold.  He puts on an american accent at first, which comes and goes with our conversation.  He was in the Navy when he was younger and worked his way up to Chief. He says “since I was in the Navy I have not worked a day in my life”.  Mac has people who work for him, he mentors and teaches them, hands down his knowledge.  He likes to travel the world and has been “to the south pole, Singapore, England and America”.  He visits New Zealand every 5 years or so and this time he is here for 6 months – he is leaving NZ for America again in June…back to Kansas.

Mac tells me he hasn’t had any experiences with escapism.  He believes that people should always be truthful and not try to hide or escape from your problems and face up to your realities.  He doesn’t watch TV, go to the movies or drink etc.  Mac also tells me he doesn’t day-dream.  I question him about this and he says “I am fully aware of my thoughts and don’t consider them day dreams”. I wonder to myself why then does he come to this same place every day.  Surely this is his place to escape, to contemplate and relax.  So I ask him why does he come here, “Why not” is his answer.

I am not fully convinced of Mac’s story, some of the conversation just did not add up for me. But I want to give him the benefit of the doubt. Some of his answers to my questions were a little odd…I thought maybe he didn’t understand the angle I was coming from. He has told me where his son works, I am thinking about making contact with him to verify his story.  Also, his son is actually someone of benefit to me for my exhibition.

I will keep you posted on the outcome…

About Karley Burgs

Artist - Painter, Sculptor Lover of Taxidermy Girl Friday
This entry was posted in Exhibitions, Interviews with Escapists and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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