Q&A: Cherie Jacobson

Cherie Jacobson is into the arts, heritage, and making things happen.

A playwright and theatre graduate, Cherie was the Programme Manager at BATS for three years before disappearing to France for a while. On her return she completed a Masters Degree in Museum and Heritage Practice and moved into a 1948 Modernist house in Karori.

Now Cherie is the Director of Katherine Mansfield House & Garden and a very proud aunty to three nieces. She loves Christmas, singing, and recycling.  

What’s your favourite place in the wider Wellington region?

Definitely the Wairarapa. That’s where I was born, and I still feel a very strong connection to it. I love reaching the top of the Remutaka Hill, looking down the valley and seeing the familiar landscape. Martinborough has definitely become much more “cool” since I left. I like getting an ice cream and wandering around the streets marveling at what’s changed, but also seeing people I know and feeling that traces still remain of the little country town that I knew as a child. I’ve never actually biked around visiting wineries because I’m usually too busy visiting my family who are spread from one end of the region to the other, but I’d like to.

What’s your go-to takeaways order?

I’m a Planet Spice devotee. It’s entirely impractical now that we live in Karori, but I love their palak paneer makhani and paratha, so the drive to pick it up is worth it. My first takeaway after lockdown was mee goreng from Little Penang. Both Planet Spice and Little Penang are longtime favourites and my two top choices for those Friday night “let’s get takeaway” times.

What book is beside your bed?

I always have a few books in the “to read” pile beside my bed, usually lots of non-fiction but at the moment there’s more of a mix. There’s Finding Frances Hodgkins by Mary Kisler, a biography of architect and furniture designer Eileen Gray, Celestial Bodies by Jokha Alharthi, and The Luminaries because I have a thing about not watching film or TV adaptations until I’ve read the book – which often means I never get around to reading or watching either. I’ve just finished Why Women Have Better Sex Under Socialism by Kirsten Ghodsee and also have Marilyn Waring’s autobiography in the pile, both of which I bought after hearing the writers speak a few months ago at an event during the excellent writers’ programme at the NZ Festival.

What’s been a pleasant surprise about lock down?

We had a friend come to stay for lockdown. Initially my partner and I were little bit hesitant about it because it’s been many years since either of us had a flatmate and lockdown was obviously quite unknown territory, but it was actually the best. She is an excellent cook so made us some amazing food and we did an Easter egg hunt, got dressed up to watch (and sing along to) the Sound of Music and had a tradition of chippie Friday, which levelled up halfway through to chippie and Kiwi onion dip Friday.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

It was in relation to a break-up, but I feel like it can apply to any challenging situation. I was pretty devastated; every day felt hard and like things would never get better. A colleague at the time, who became a good friend, didn’t try to diminish how I was feeling. She said, “I know it’s a horrible time and I don’t have any advice that’s going to magically make you feel better. All I can say is that it’s like a swamp. There’s no easy way around it, you just have to go through it. It’ll be slow and some days you might feel like you’re not moving at all or you’re going backwards, but trust me, you will be making progress. One day you’ll realise you’ve reached the other side and you’ll look back and be amazed at how far you’ve come.” She was basically saying “when the going gets tough, keep going” but I like the imagery of it and I’ve probably thought about it more often than any other advice I’ve ever been given.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

I have a drawing from when I was about five and written across the top is: “I want to be a nurse so I can help people.” Luckily it was a short-lived aspiration because I would make a terrible nurse; my partner always says I’m very practical but not particularly sympathetic when he’s sick.

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