Dark Night: Walking with McCahon

Martin Edmond


‘. . . thanks to Edmond’s acumen, humility and finely tuned sense of irony, Dark Night is one of the year’s most rewarding reads.’ – Iain Sharp, Metro


Out on that hallowed ground I felt my own consciousness go, not into exile or oblivion but into what was round about . . . like McCahon when he was lost in here, I had surrendered my identity; I had, like him, become just another entity among entities: as the trees pulled up moisture from the earth and exhaled it through their leaves into the air, so too did I inhale and exhale, so too did the insects, the birds, the animals; clouds and stars were likewise mortal bodies that expanded and contracted rhythmically for a long or short while then passed away.

In 1984, in the palm grove in Sydney’s Botanic Gardens, the artist Colin McCahon went missing. He was found by police early next morning in Centennial Park, kilometres away, with no memory of who he was or where he had been. They took him to St Vincent’s Hospital where he remained, a complete unknown, while a major retrospective exhibition of his paintings opened on the other side of town.

In Dark Night, Martin Edmond walks in McCahon’s footsteps, past pubs and monuments, art galleries and churches, barracks and parks: to accompany him some way into the darkness of his end. Edmond’s record of the journey is a brilliant exploration of a city and its denizens; of the nature of art and the foundations of faith; and of the shadowy crossroads where they intersect.


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Ohakune-born Martin Edmond is now based in Sydney but is often in New Zealand. Several of his screenplays have been produced as award-winning films and four of his books have been shortlisted in the national book awards; his Chronicle of the Unsung won the biography category of the 2005 Montana New Zealand Book Awards. He was the 2004 Writing Fellow at The University of Auckland, in 2007 won a CLL Writers’ Award to support writingZone of the Marvellous (2nd imp 2010), and was a Michael King Writers’ Centre Writer in Residence in 2010.


July 2011, 210 x 140 mm, 208 pages
Paperback, ISBN 9781869404833, $37.99