Sunday, July 14, 2013

MEME launch at Gus Fisher Gallery

Memé Churton is an ebullient and colourful character who, in the course of her lifetime, witnessed the rise of Fascism and became embroiled in the Communist Revolution. My old friend, former colleague and publisher David Ling paid warm tribute to “an extraordinary story about an extraordinary woman with a great zest for life”, when he launched her memoir Memé: The Three Worlds of an Italian-Chinese New Zealander at a crowded Gus Fisher Gallery on Wednesday evening. David talked about Memé’s “almost accidental visit to New Zealand in the early 1950s at the invitation of a New Zealand soldier she had met briefly at the end of the war. Of her horror at the lack of sophistication she found here compared with Trieste and Shanghai. Of how she married her soldier and became friends with the literati and intelligentsia of the day, and with prominent politicians and businessmen.” Memé was also a vibrant influence in her own right, helping to transform New Zealand culture in the areas of food, fashion, art and education and a very popular member of the Auckland University staff teaching Italian language and culture for almost 30 years. As behoves Memé’s popularity, many of her family, friends and former students were in the room, including Rene and Michael Fisher, Rosie and Michael Horton, Roger and Shirley Horrocks, Professor Nicholas Tarling and Gil Hanly. David made special mention of Memé’s good friends Roger and Shirley Horrocks “who skilfully transcribed the tapes of her life story that she had carefully recorded and to whom are all indebted.” Memé spoke movingly and with humour about her family and friends who helped her through difficult times, and how she hoped that what she leaves behind will be an “on-going dynasty.” Saturday, October 20, 2012

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