Rick was a New Zealand man, who had travelled extensively overseas, opened many restaurants and was a fabulous chef and maitre de.
He never made a “deal” about being gay so I wanted the Quilt to reflect more his energy, sparkle, and the tremendous sense of style, rather than aspects of his life that always remained obscure to me.
Rick came to terms with his gayness and his AIDS diagnosis all at once, and it was initially a tremendous struggle. A week before he died, his lover and friends hired a stretch limo and transported him to Piha, and had champagne and pate. He died at home amidst his friends and family.
U.J. (as I called him) was a bachelor who was loved dearly by his nieces and nephews for his wonderful sense of fun and ‘joi de vive’. He was a travelling salesman for many years so touched the lives of many people but home on the weekends was a relaxed time for being with his animals (cats, dogs, birds), tending his garden and enjoying his antique collection and entertaining family and friends.
I’m now not sure that any of us knew him very well at all because his privacy protected each of us from what we didn’t want to know about.
The panel is a picture U.J. bought in America – love of colour, flowers and birds – and which I then stitched together to make suitable for the panel.
With love from one of his nieces.
I met Max in London when he came and talked with those of us who were doing the first AIDS mastery weekend with Nigel Hughes and Sally Fischer.
I then met up with him in New York where he was starting one of the invaluable support and information papers for PWA (People Living With AIDS). We went to the cinema to see Caravaggio and walked back to Chelsea down Fifth Avenue, passing some very sad street people. Max said how much he loved New York, and when I said that the plight of addicts and alcoholics would depress me, he said,
“Oh no! When I pas them, I just throw buckets of white light over them.”
The last time I saw Max he looked pretty sick but was enthusiastically assisting the lad who was pushing his wheelchair through the streets of Washington D.C. on the Big March of 1986.
I wish him buckets of white light.
Roderick himself has now died of an AIDS-related condition and a panel for him is on Block 8.
Karen sent us this information about Max. As far as we are able to ascertain, we believe we have the right person. Thank-you Karen
Funny to find Max on a New Zealand quilt. I’m assuming this is my Max from NYC, NY. Originally from Massachusetts, Max began life as Michael Hurlebus – we came up with the name that fit him late one night in the 1970’s. Max was an artist and an activist.
What didn’t he do? The man designed some wonderful multi-functional furniture, did some interior design, decided to write a play and it was pretty damn good. Played a mean saxophone and sang with marvellous style.
I’m not sure if he didn’t use both these names for his combo at one time or another: MAX NAVARRE and The Wallets & MAX NAVARRE & the Combo Platter.
Everything he attempted he did well. I used to be bothered by his seeming inability to keep at one pursuit for any length of time – as I felt he could succeed at any one of them. After he died it hit me that he really didn’t have the time to pursue anything in depth so he leap-frogged from one to another – always with such beauty and style. I always fancied him a Noel Coward – and certainly, in many ways he was. I adored Max.
We spread his ashes in Nyack, NY at Hook Mountain Park.
I love this quilt panel. It would make Max smile. And laugh.
Added May 2012
Theresa sent us this information about her uncle.
Max Navarre was my uncle. We were only 12 years apart in age so to me he was more of a cool, hip, older brother than an uncle. To add on to Karen’s comments…He did begin his life in Massachusetts, South Boston actually and his given name was Michael F. Hurlebaus; he was the youngest of 5 children. My mother Carolyn was one of his older sisters and she just adored him.
Boston was too small of a city for him and his dreams so when he graduated from high school he hit the road for NYC and never looked back. The stories he would tell me of his ‘adventures’ in the ‘big city’ could fill a book… of course, he would need to be the one to write it because he was the wordsmith in this relationship!
My uncle was a remarkable man, gifted in so many ways. I, too, used to wonder at why he didn’t seem to stick to one pursuit for a great deal of time however when he got sick I realized how short life really is and how much he would have missed doing if he had lived his life any other way. He died on May 28, 1988 – two months shy of his 34th birthday; passed away on his father’s birthday. They weren’t exceptionally close but I like to think my grampa was there to welcome my uncle when he left this world for one free of pain and illness.
The world is a little dimmer, even now after all these years but I love this image on the NZ quilt panel for him because he shone the light on everyone and continues to shine down his brilliant light on all of us.
Added May 2016
Alan Craig Stirling
Alan was born the eldest of 5 children, 3 boys and 2 girls. He was a gentle, caring and sensitive child, qualities which most noticeably displayed themselves in the way he kept a watchful eye on his younger ‘daredevil’ brothers, his aversion to anything cruel or scary, and his dislike of sibling arguments, nastiness or bullying.
He didn’t inherit the ‘family shyness’ like the rest of us, but was outgoing and friendly, and had no trouble meeting new people. He always saw the funny side of things and had an accompanying loud infectious laugh, which meant he was a bright spot at parties and family get-togethers. I really miss this. But underneath his bubbliness was still the gentle and caring Al.
He as quick to pick up vibes and undercurrents in relationships, and often knew just how you were feeling. His perceptiveness could take people by surprise if he chose to verbalise his observations/feelings. He disliked superficiality and when friends would sometimes attempt to be something they were not, he would laugh and tell them to ‘cut the crap!’. He was not always open himself, though, and could hide feelings and hurts behind a real deadpan expression if he wanted to.
He was very sensitive as to what people thought of him as a person, but couldn’t care less what they thought about the externals, i.e. dress, interests, hobbies, and so on. I always appreciated and sometimes envied, this freedom he had.
His clothes were anything but dull and boring and whatever he wore he could carry off brilliantly. I remember our “Al’s gone shopping” nights when we were flatting in Sydney. He would arrive home with some flamboyant, trendy or stylishly classic article of clothing, disappear into the bedroom to team it up with something from his hat, tie, belt, or shoe collection, and re-emerge. The result was always impressive even if a bit ‘over the top’ for us to be brave enough to wear ourselves!
He was a superb cook, by far the best in the family, and enjoyed entertaining and eating out. He also kept the lolly factories in business.
He devoured House & Garden magazines and kept wherever he was living looking like a page from one, right down to the flowers – he loved flowers and flower arranging.
He was a cabinet maker by trade, a job which he didn’t mind but may not have chosen had there been more options in our small town, at school leaving age (we imagine him in a Sydney men’s fashion shop). He did his job well, though. When he was in hospital his employers would send a cab for him so he could show someone else how to do the difficult jobs. He was clever with his hands in other areas too, such as stained glass and sewing. Some of his friends were actors, and he would often sew their theatre costumes. The odd shirt for himself was also whizzed up on his machine.
He was the loving guardian to many teddy bears which he really began collecting when he became ill, but the collection included novel, well-loved, ugly, cuddly, big and tiny teddies.
Al grew up a Christian in a Christian home but put Christianity on hold for a while to try the alternatives. He did the full cycle through and gained tons of strength from a growing relationship with God during his illness. When faced with death he knew very clearly what did and did not matter to him in his life, and faced every day bravely and calmly with Christ. His faith, hope for eternal life and love for God and people were a real inspiration to us. He was a brave fighter to the end. We know we will see him again.
He was a neat brother and friend. He brought sunshine and sorrow to our lives and was just too special to ever be forgotten.
The outside border of the Quilt is pretty self-explanatory. In the middle section, the soft warm background was chosen with hearts to represent his soft, warm and caring nature. The bright colour for the lettering was chosen to convey the brightness of his personality.
Thank you for inviting us to do a Quilt, it has been a close experience and was a positive way for our family to deal with many memories. Al would love to have worked on it with us.
Love from his sisters and Mum.
What little information we have for this panel is confidential, however, if you are a member of Simon’s family and wish to give us more information, please get in touch with us.
Roy William Ormsby
How does one assimilate a love of history, a flair for colour and an acquired skill as a bag-maker? Become a designer of gowns. Roy was a multi-faceted man with an ability to take his many, and widely varied interests and combine them on occasions to create the effect and atmosphere he required.
From an early age, he showed a sense of colour which later was used, most effectively, in the creation of gowns. On at least two separate occasions Roy, not part of any design company, had his entries in the Benson & Hedges Awards reach the finals. There was no production team to help him. He did the lot – from drawing the design, choosing the fabric, cutting it out, to sewing the gown together and adorning it with beads or sequins where appropriate.
His love of history and sense of balance gave him other opportunities in dress design also. Roy’s first bridal gown, designed and made completely by Roy, was for one of his sisters. Quite a number were made for friends and his last he made for his niece (coincidentally, the daughter of his sister whose gown had been his first).
If one walked into his house, stopped, looked around and listened, one could feel that they were in another period of time. In the background would be heard music from an opera, perhaps first staged over a hundred or more years ago. Around the walls, the articles adorning them ranged from antique to the contemporary prints of old masters.
Yet, to complete the contrast in music, as in other fields of Roy’s life, it is worth noting that he was an able dancer of rock’n’roll, combing a great sense of rhythm with the theatrics of jive.
His large collection of books provided a solitude from the hustle of the day. Herein lay an opportunity to let his mind follow paths from Royalist historical to the futuristic and the supernatural.
Roy relished the chance to entertain and thus show his culinary talents. Mood matched the meal with the chosen music in the background, complementing the style and type of food presented.
How far distant can that man be from the gardener tending the weeds and listening intently to the commentaries on the radio, especially of the harness racing.
To set a goal and concentrate all efforts to achieve it, is an aim both expected and saluted in today’s world; determination and sometimes outright doggedness, a trait to be respected. Roy certainly had these. Once he had chosen to follow a particular path, he seldom waved from it.
Born first of six children, Roy attended both primary and secondary school in the southern suburbs of Auckland where he showed a talent for and interest in both art and drama.
From his apprenticeship in bag-making came the abilities in sewing which allowed him the chance to live in such places as Wellington, Palmerston North, in Sydney, Australia, and his home-town of Auckland.
Such was the diverse collage that was Roy.
With love from his sisters,
Rewa, Tiri, Paula, Raewyn and Annette
Russell Robert Purves Wells
We would like to thank Russell’s younger brother, Peter, for sending us this information about Russell’s panel.
This panel was made by my mother Bessie, myself (Peter) – Russell’s younger brother – and Alexa Johnston, a close friend of Russell’s. The material was a beautiful brocade which I thought expressed some of Russell’s joie de vivre. The symbols mark out things like his love of antiques, his role in the legal profession, knowledge of Maoritanga. Russell was my elder brother by two years. I wrote extensively about this charismatic brother in my memoir ‘Long Loop Home‘ and the documentary film based on it, ‘Pansy‘.
He influenced a younger generation of chefs and cooks. He was an ace cook of Elizabeth David recipes and Ray McVinnie and Alexa Johnston learnt from Russell – his flair, sharp taste, nonacceptance of second-best and demand that things be ‘just so’.
Like anyone he could be irritating, demanding and difficult – but his flair for life was so extraordinary he changed the lives of people around him.
He died at 41 and my mother and I often wonder what he would have achieved if he had lived longer.
Russell Robert Purves Wells -1949-1989.
Added March 2013
Tonight it is cold. I sit by the fire here – Ian, drying the last of the winter wind out of my clothes….
Outside on the roof, you can hear the rain; it drifts through the kauri on the ridge, and folds down into the valley, in sweeps of grey and white. It makes me remember the winter we spent huddled by the fire wrapped in our swandries keeping ourselves warm with talk, and cups of cocoa.
It’s hard now that you’ve gone.
I finished your Quilt this evening. It’s taken a long time. I hunted out your old shed pants and a couple of work shirts – and cut them up for patches. And Dad gave me some bailing twine to sew around your portrait. (You will notice that I am still ratshit with a needle and thread, so I got Garth to help me do the fancy stuff with his machine.)
I have written on the poem by W.B. Yeats that you gave me. I still keep a copy of it in the workshop – after all these years……The other words are the ones you wrote to me after the hassle of my coming out……For over a decade those lines have stood beside me……You always had such insight.
Last year, when they told me you had died – I drove down to the farm. It is still much the same; the fences and the sheep tracks, wandering across the hillsides.
The four paintings that surround your portrait are from that trip, Ian.
The first one is the morning after we met. It was summer and I remember how I sat and looked out the window at the hillsides, while you were sleeping…. and there were magpies calling in the paddocks.
The second painting is of the same hills – in autumn – before I left for Europe.
The two-night scenes are about our togetherness – and being apart. The first is mine, with the Southern Cross and Virgo in the midheaven – The other is from your home in England – with the Pole Star and Pisces rising. They are both in winter.
The saying in Maori is about your strength because you showed me how to be proud….And because through you I learnt not to be afraid of loving.
But even now, Ian, I can see that these are only words….And you have gone.
I sit here by the smoke and embers and I touch the texture of your face. It is hard to be left with just a picture on the floor. I run my fingers lightly through the softness of your shirt and back across the hills and the sky, Ian, and here
alone without you…..
I can feel that I am
Other photos of this block
Panels in this Block
|Panel Name||Life Years||Panel Link|
|Alan Craig Stirling||30 January 1959 - 12 June 1990||View Panel ›|
|Ian Williams||View Panel ›|
|Max Navarre||View Panel ›|
|Rick||View Panel ›|
|Roy William Ormsby||March 1939 - 9 September 1991||View Panel ›|
|Russell Robert Purves Wells||1948 - 1989||View Panel ›|
|Simon||View Panel ›|
|Uncle Jack||View Panel ›|