Well, I fell into bed at midnight last night after an amazing day. 365 Degrees. A moment, a day, a year opened last night, on a beautiful Raglan evening. It was a day with so many highlights.
All in all, it has been a humbling experience: help from so many wonderful friends in preparing for and putting on the evening, and then to finally see, hear and feel people experiencing my work: I am awash.
A very special part of the day was to have the exhibition blessed before it opened. A local Maori elder kindly agreed to do the honours for me. To hear Sean's voice offering up his words in Maori honouring this place and our connection to it was so very important to me. With just Sean, Conor and I present, we started at the door to the building and worked our way around each wall. Conor stage whispered "Mum, why are you crying?" It was a wonderful way to begin.
On the way there in the car, Conor had said: 'Mum, you know the really awesome picture you see when you first go in? The one of you and me?" "Yes," I replied. He paused. "I think we should keep that one."
The format for the evening was to greet everyone outside with drinks and nibbles while my singing group Slipped Discs performed. At 7.15pm I welcomed everyone, made a speech and invited them into the Theatre Room. With about 100 people present, squeezing all of us into the room was one of my favourite parts of the evening: all that humanity shoulder to shoulder about to celebrate a year of life.
The lights went out, my slideshow of opening words appeared on the big screen and as it progressed to the year's images, the music began. The songs I had recorded filled the room and took the journey with the images, from day 1 to 365.
I had worried that people would get restless, and wouldn't last the distance. But to feel the collective breath of the room, to hear everyone laugh when my nephew Luca said "Oh, that's me!" People shed tears as they stood together. Friends looked around the room to watch their fellow audience members transfixed.
14 minutes in a hot room with 100 people and nobody moved. I had known in my heart that this would be a good way to present the images before allowing people into the main gallery: it was the way I had seen the images combined with the songs in my head: sound and pictures filling the room.
Afterwards, I opened the doors into the main gallery, and everyone spilled out to view the images on the walls. It was a happy, buzzing, beautiful gathering: and I know for sure I haven't had that many hugs and kisses for a long time!
What struck me most was how much love was there last night. So many good wishes, nothing less than a small army of helpers who cooked, carried, created, passed-around, played, performed and poured - all to help me bring 365 Degrees into the world.
And to see that what I made had an effect on people - that it connected, resonated, that they could see some of their own lives in mine. That they got my point! The everyday is extraordinary - the whole messy, dramatic, sweaty, glorious lot of it.
We finished the evening by sharing dinner - setting long tables, Italian style, right down the centre of the gallery. It was a lovely end to sit amongst the work, sharing a meal and having time together.
Thank you to everyone who attended last night. And special thanks to all those people who helped me, or sent messages, flowers and good wishes.
It was a very special evening, filled with great food, music, people and emotion. What more could a girl ask for?
In one of the great ironies of life, I only took about 30 pictures of the night, and most of them are rubbish. But below are a few which tell some of the story.