Express yourself in art – and bring joy to the audience.

Eddy Eighty and friends. Street performance at Auckland International Buskers Festival. Auckland, New Zealand. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

Eddy Eighty and friends. Street performance at Auckland International Buskers Festival. Auckland, New Zealand. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

It’s Auckland’s Anniversary Day today — 175 years since European settlement began in earnest and Auckland was chosen to be New Zealand’s capital (albeit briefly).

The weekend-long celebration includes the Auckland International Buskers Festival, with performances all around the city waterfront. Amongst the buskers bringing street theatre to Auckland was Eddy Eighty from Spain. His funny, high energy act included fire juggling, dance and acrobatics — with a little help from a couple of guys in the audience.

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Eddy Eighty and friends. Street performance at Auckland International Buskers Festival. Auckland, New Zealand. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

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Eddy Eighty and friends. Street performance at Auckland International Buskers Festival. Auckland, New Zealand. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

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Eddy Eighty and friends. Street performance at Auckland International Buskers Festival. Auckland, New Zealand. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

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Eddy Eighty and friends. Street performance at Auckland International Buskers Festival. Auckland, New Zealand. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

Street theatre. Auckland Anniversary Weekend celebrations, CBD, Auckland. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

Eddy Eighty and friends. Street performance at Auckland International Buskers Festival. Auckland, New Zealand. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

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Eddy Eighty and friends. Street performance at Auckland International Buskers Festival. Auckland, New Zealand. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

This post was written for the Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge. You can see more here.

Choice and obligation? Language as a tool, a balme, or as a weapon?

"Love". Detail from Jeff Thomson, 'Words', 2010. Birkenhead Public Library, Auckland, New Zealand. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015. Shot with iPhone4, edited with Pixlr Express.

“Love”. Detail from Jeff Thomson, ‘Words’, 2010. Birkenhead Public Library, Auckland, New Zealand. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015. Shot with iPhone4, edited with Pixlr Express.

An attack upon our ability to tell stories is not just censorship – it is a crime against our nature as human beings.

Salman Rushdie

There is a fine line between censorship and good taste and moral responsibility.

— Steven Spielberg

Whatever position one takes on the subject of free speech, I believe we must both mourn and speak out against the deaths last week of seventeen people in Paris. Men and women who were murdered because of their work, their beliefs — or because fate placed them in the wrong place at the wrong time. We must also remember those who were injured in the attacks on the office of Charlie Hebdo, the kosher supermarket at Porte de Vincennes, and at Fontenay-aux-Roses and Montrouge.

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“Love”. Detail from Jeff Thomson, ‘Words’, 2010. Birkenhead Public Library, Auckland, New Zealand. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015. Shot with iPhone4, edited with Pixlr Express and Pho.to Pro.

My own view of freedom of expression is reflected in the quotes above by both Salman Rushdie and Steven Spielberg.

I believe that all rights carry obligations. Freedom of expression is not absolute; it is not carte blanche to deliberately offend, incite, mislead or cause hurt. It is a right long fought-for and hard-won by generations of people who came before us. As such, it must be protected against those who would steal it in fear or ignorance. It must also be used responsibly.

Outside the Birkenhead public library, on Auckland’s North Shore, are two sculptures by Jeff Thomson. Called ‘Words’ both are made of sheet steel with words cut into it. Mainly they are words that have special local significance, but some are universal — like “love.”

The symbolism of a sculpture constructed from text seems quite apt to me. In one sense, the words don’t matter. It wouldn’t affect the overall shape or strength of the work if instead of “love” the artist had cut “hate” — or for that matter “rice”, “snap” or “hats.” But it does matter; words matter; language matters. That is why our forbears fought so hard for the right of free expression, and which we must cherish.

Those of us who enjoy any freedom of expression make choices every time we speak, write, draw, photograph, sculpt. We can use our chosen forms of communication as a weapon, as a balme, or perhaps as a bridge between ourselves and others not like us.

Whatever choices we make; we must do so consciously.

This post was written as part of Sally’s Phoneography and non-SLR Digital Devices Photo Challenge at Lens and Pens by Sally. You can find out more here.