Picturing an idyllic future

County Council offices, Raethihi, North Island, New Zealand. Photo: Su Leslie, 2014. Shot with iPhone4, edited with Pixlr Express.

County Council offices, Raethihi, North Island, New Zealand. Photo: Su Leslie, 2014. Shot with iPhone4, edited with Pixlr Express to give a slightly retro feel.

Last week I responded to Sally’s Phoneography and non-SLR digital photo challenge with some shots of buildings I saw during a road-trip through New Zealand’s North Island. These were commercial buildings, in small towns which are struggling to survive in a climate of decline and restructuring in New Zealand’s traditional rural and heartland industries alongside unbalanced and unchecked growth of our largest city.

I’ve lived most of my life in Auckland and watched as heritage architecture – mainly from the early 20th century – has been demolished to make way for newer, bigger buildings. It is always wonderful then, to travel out of Auckland to towns where this destruction hasn’t taken place.

My trip last week was mainly a visit to my dad, but also to search for somewhere new to live. The Big T and I are over Auckland. We’re sick of living in an over-populated, over-crowded, traffic-congested mega-city where communities are being reshaped and swallowed up by massive new housing  estates stamped onto what was once fertile, food-producing land. The boy-child is nearly grown and it’s time for a new phase in our lives. So we’re investigating various small towns and provincial cities for our future home. This search has taken on a moral quality. Without concerted efforts to re-invigorate provincial New Zealand, huge and beautiful swathes of the country are at risk of housing only ghost towns.

County Council office, Raetihi, North Island, New Zealand. Shot with iPhone4, edited with Pixlr Express to create a sense of how we might imagine this town in the 1920s. In 1918 a huge fire devastated large parts of the town, destroying some of the timber mills upon which the local economy was dependent.

County Council office, Raetihi, North Island, New Zealand. Shot with iPhone4, edited with Pixlr Express to create a sense of how we might imagine this town in the 1920s. In 1918 a huge fire devastated large parts of Raetihi, destroying some of the timber mills upon which the local economy was dependent.

So this week I’ve taken a photo of the County Council offices in Raetihi – a town of around 1000 people in the central North Island – and edited it in lots of different ways. My aim – to show how beautiful this (actually quite ordinary) example of early 20th century Kiwi architecture really is. I’m imagining for myself the task of marketing this town using one image. Not a realistic brief perhaps, but one I’ll have fun with.

raetihi1

County Council offices, Raethihi, North Island, New Zealand. Photo: Su Leslie, 2014. Shot with iPhone4, edited with Pixlr Express. Local galleries often sell images of landmark buildings; would an image of the Council offices sell?

County Council offices, Raethihi, North Island, New Zealand. Photo: Su Leslie, 2014. Shot with iPhone4, edited with Pixlr Express to give a slightly retro feel.

County Council offices, Raethihi, North Island, New Zealand. Photo: Su Leslie, 2014. Shot with iPhone4, edited with Pho.to Lab Pro.

Perhaps a cartoon version?

County Council offices, Raethihi, North Island, New Zealand. Photo: Su Leslie, 2014. Shot with iPhone4, edited with Pho.to Lab Pro.

County Council offices, Raethihi, North Island, New Zealand. Photo: Su Leslie, 2014. Shot with iPhone4, edited with Pho.to Lab Pro.

Or a watercolour?

County Council offices, Raethihi, North Island, New Zealand. Photo: Su Leslie, 2014. Shot with iPhone4, edited with Pho.to Lab Pro.

County Council offices, Raethihi, North Island, New Zealand. Photo: Su Leslie, 2014. Shot with iPhone4, edited with Pho.to Lab Pro.

Maybe a charcoal sketch?

County Council offices, Raethihi, North Island, New Zealand. Photo: Su Leslie, 2014. Shot with iPhone4, edited with Pho.to Lab Pro.

County Council offices, Raethihi, North Island, New Zealand. Photo: Su Leslie, 2014. Shot with iPhone4, edited with Pho.to Lab Pro.

Or a coloured pencil drawing?

County Council offices, Raethihi, North Island, New Zealand. Photo: Su Leslie, 2014. Shot with iPhone4, edited with Pho.to Lab Pro.

County Council offices, Raethihi, North Island, New Zealand. Photo: Su Leslie, 2014. Shot with iPhone4, edited with Pho.to Lab Pro.

I think it would make a great postage stamp.

raetihi13

County Council offices, Raethihi, North Island, New Zealand. Photo: Su Leslie, 2014. Shot with iPhone4, edited with Pho.to Lab.

I can’t help feeling that unless there is a radical change of direction in our government, the country will remain as fragmented and messed up as this final image.

This post was written for the Phoneography and non-SLR digital photo challenge at Lens and Pens by Sally. You can see more and take part here.

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14 thoughts on “Picturing an idyllic future

  1. I really enjoyed how you used the apps to make a political and social statement. While I like the second the best, because it fits the architecture. Your last one provokes and has a different kind of meaning. Happy Photo Challenge.

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  2. Pingback: Phoneography and Non-SLR Digital Photo Challenge: Editing and Processing (The Complexity and Simplicity of the Walk) | Lens and Pens by Sally

  3. Su, what a wonderful post. I look forward to seeing where you end up (and maybe even visiting you there in a year or so.) You did so much with the edits that it’s difficult to chose which I like best. But I think the retro feel of the first edit, the third and the last (although I also love the postage stamp.) All the best in your search!!

    janet

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    • Thanks Janet. It would be lovely to have you visit the “new place” – though I suspect in your time-frame it could just be bare land with lots of plans! I’m glad you enjoyed the photos. I hope all is well with you. Cheers, Su.

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      • Yes, after renovating one house (and doing minor work on a couple of others) I don’t want to ever do that again. We have quite specific desires (sustainable, specific spaces, etc) that we won’t probably won’t find in an existing house. New Zealanders are not renowned for being particularly architecturally minded an a lot of our housing stock is a bit dysfunctional in the modern environment — ironically some of the modern houses are the worst.

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