Here we feature projects from all art forms by artists from New Zealand and around the world that have been inspired by KM. If you know of one or are working on one yourself, please let us know!
Rue de K.Mansfield
This poem is by Gisborne writer Beverley Smith. It was written after a visit to Menton, where Katherine Mansfield spent time in 1920 and 1921. It has been published on the Arts Page in the Gisborne Herald. Beverley explains that her childhood was spent at Lake Waikaremoana, Te Urewera, hence the reference in the poem to 'Urewera's daughter'. Mansfield visited Te Urewera on a camping trip in 1907.
Image: The Villa Isola Bella where Mansfield lived in Menton from September 1920 to May 1921.
Virginia & Katherine: The Secret Diaries by Pip Griffin
“… K & I had our relationship, & never again shall I have one like it”—Virginia Woolf, October 1924.
In January 1923, Virginia Woolf noted in her diary that Katherine Mansfield had promised two years earlier to send her diary to her. She was perplexed and hurt that she had not, not knowing how ill Katherine had been. The ‘secret diaries’—Virginia’s begun after Katherine’s death in 1923, Katherine’s begun in 1920—are written in lyrical poems inspired by the friendship (and intense rivalry) of the two women. Virginia and Katherine recognised that they were ‘both after the same thing’ in their compulsive, innovative work of ‘writing their lives’. The book presents a fresh dialogue that also suggests a tantalising possibility.
Winner of The Society of Women Writers NSW Members' Book Awards 2022.
Find out more, including how to purchase the book, here.
Miss Kezia in The Race to Pigroot
Author Aimee Chan's latest children's book, The Race to Pigroot, includes the character of a teacher named Miss Kezia as a nod to Katherine Mansfield. Aimee says, "While I was writing a story about an NZ landscape and working with an NZ illustrator in Laura Bee it made sense to have a tribute to Katherine Mansfield’s best character, Kezia Burnell."
The Race to Pigroot is about a boy named Victor who is dared by his friend Fergus to walk the Pigroot from Dunedin to Naseby - all 143 kilometers of it! It is based on a true story.
"...shaped by intelligent voices and some impeccable musicianship." Elsewhere
"...a beautiful and bizarre thing, this album, with tracks ranging from weird to wonderful. Folksy ballads, and electric elegy, with the acoustic highlighting the emotion in the context of the words, and the digital showing the meter, foot, and beat the words sit upon. Reading along is one thing but feeling along is a whole new experience." muzic.net.nz
Nina Mingya Powles reads 'If Katherine Mansfield were my best friend'
Nina Mingya Powles is a poet and zinemaker. She is the author of a food memoir, Tiny Moons (The Emma Press, 2020), the essay collection Small Bodies of Water (Allen & Unwin, 2021), and poetry collections including Luminescent (Seraph Press, 2017) and Magnolia 木蘭 (Seraph Press, 2020). She is the founding editor of Bitter Melon苦瓜, a small risograph press, and lives in London.
You can find out more about Nina and find links to some of her other work (including 'Katherine Mansfield Park') on her website, ninapowles.com. Nina's poem 'Josephine' was written in response to Mansfield's story 'Daughters of the Late Colonel'. Thank you to Nina for allowing us to share this piece.
'The Blue Fury' by Tara Comics
A comic about Janet Frame and Katherine Mansfield haunting a first year teacher.
Tara Black makes comics and sits in the front row of book events so she can draw the writers. Her work appears on The Sapling, Stasis Journal and her website, taracomics.com. Her first book, This Is Not a Pipe, was published in 2020 by Victoria University Press.
'Sea Crazy Song' by Stepha Schweiger
'Sea Crazy Song' was the first digital single to be released from German musician Stepha Schweiger’s new album 'When I was a Bird'. The lyrics are from Katherine Mansfield's poem 'Sea Song'.
Stepha says: "In the poem 'Sea Song' by Katherine Mansfield, the protagonist makes a conscious decision to think no more of the sea. In her mind’s eye, she sees the memory, fully laden in human guise, wandering between the never ending to and fro of the sea, constantly searching with a 'Crazy Song' on her lips. Then the memory merges with the whisper of ghostly waves on the shore. But the sea becomes ever louder and ultimately drowns out all other sounds..."
Find out more about Stepha on her website stepha.net
'The Ex-Wife' by Ali Smith
In this short story, Katherine Mansfield is 'the other woman' in the narrator's relationship.
Laura Spence-Ash in the Fiction Responding to Fiction series writes, "Could there be a better way to pay homage to an author than to include the writer as a character in the fiction? In Ali Smith’s story 'The Ex-Wife', included in her collection Public Library and Other Stories, the writer Katherine Mansfield is the other woman. The narrator’s partner is a reader and a writer, researching the life and work of Mansfield, and the narrator feels excluded from this part of her partner’s life. As the relationship sours, the persona of Mansfield appears to the narrator and, through their conversations and her own research, the narrator learns quite a bit about Mansfield, becoming, perhaps, even more of an expert than her partner. By having the narrator learn about Mansfield alongside the reader, Smith pays homage to both the writer and the woman."
Ali Smith is a critically acclaimed Scottish author, playwright, academic and journalist.
'Sunbeam Redux' by The Night
Newtown youth band The Night hail from as many Wellington high schools as there are band members. The music video for their song 'Sunbeam Redux' was filmed at Katherine Mansfield House & Garden in March and August 2020. The lyrics feel like the perfect fit for a teenage Kathleen Mansfield Beauchamp desperate to escape her stifling colonial family.
The Night are based at the Newtown Community Music and Arts Centre, where under the guidance of Geoff Day of the Rock Academy they have fused into a close-knit band with an energetic and upbeat alternative pop sound. In 2018 they made the Wellington regional finals of the Smokefree Rockquest.
Bloomsbury Women & the Wild Colonial Girl
The New Zealand premiere of Bloomsbury Women & the Wild Colonial Girl was staged at Circa Theatre in 2018 as part of KM130, a festival celebrating the 130th anniversary of Katherine Mansfield’s birth.
Acclaimed playwright, actor and director Lorae Parry found herself “fascinated by the life [KM] lived and the company she kept during those vital years of her development as a writer” and decided “to create a piece of theatre… that captured something of the relationship between Mansfield and the women of Bloomsbury.”
The published script is available for purchase in our gift shop.
Postscript by Liam Barr
Postscript is a 2013 work by New Zealand artist Liam Barr. He writes:
"I love the rain tonight, I want the feeling of it on my face"
Said to be the last words Katherine Mansfield spoke as she made her way back to her quarters at Georges Gurdjieff's Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man, Fontainebleau, (9/1/1923). Tuberculosis brought about her untimely death at age 34 and closed the chapter but opened the book of a woman who struggled relentlessly against the social parameters of the day. Her journals, letters and short stories charter that indelible struggle and we are the richer for it.
An award-winning 2011 telemovie written and directed by Fiona Samuel. It follows the young Katie Beauchamp from boredom in restrictive upper-class Edwardian Wellington to a new life of liberation and love affairs in London, where she dares to dream of being a writer.
Bliss screened to acclaim on TV One's Sunday Theatre and was released as a DVD. Listener reviewer Fiona Rae praised the "excellent" script for allowing “Mansfield to be witty, passionate and outspoken without belabouring the status of women in 1908."
You can watch excerpts from Bliss on NZ On Screen Iwi Whitiāhua here.