13 January 2014

The enticing story of chocolate

Chocolate au Lait, by Johanna Kreisel
Porirua's Pataka Museum has an exhibit at the moment illustrating the history and manufacturing of chocolate, which is definitely worth a visit if you're in the neighbourhood. The exhibition covers the origins from the cacao pod in the New World to the start of the European chocolate craze after breaking out of its 16th century niche amongst the aristocrats of Spain, to its globalisation as a commodity of enormous value. Pataka also highlights a century-odd of New Zealand chocolate packaging (there'll be plenty of childhood memories for most visitors), the ongoing and growing importance of sourcing chocolate from ethically produced sources to avoid the scourge of child labour exploitation (buy Fair Trade!), and a room dedicated to telling the story of Wellington-based chocolate-maker Whittaker's, which was founded in 1896. In the latter there's a bombastically confident letter from a German supplier of chocolate wrappers, seeking Whittaker's trade - but this arrived just before the outbreak of war in 1939 and so amounted to nothing.

Pataka Museum
Cnr Norrie and Parumoana Streets, Porirua
Until 6 April 2014; free

While you're at Pataka, I'd also recommend paying a quick visit to the one-room exhibition of well-crafted black and white landscape photos by Grant Sheehan (last day 26 January), which are evocative of the wild and lonely New Zealand landscapes of Robin Morrison. I can forgive Sheehan the traditional noodling psychobabble that seems to accompany all Pataka photography exhibitions: 'Whatever the reason, the emotional response these occasional images evoke in me becomes imprinted on my mind, where they remain like scar tissue, reoccurring autonomously in my memory as time passes, anchoring me to this unique landscape, my home'. 

See also:
PhotographyDark cloud / white light, 22 September 2013
Photography: Wildlife photographer of the year, 20 January 2013
ArtThe merest hint of mortality, 26 February 2012
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