Daily Post Photo Challenge: Vibrant

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Seen in the Winter Garden, Auckland Museum Domain. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

In need of a change of scenery after days of trying to bring order to the chaos of stuff we’ve accumulated, I sneaked off to the glasshouses of the Winter Garden at the Auckland Domain.

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Seen in the Winter Garden, Auckland Museum Domain. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Bold, vibrant, cheerful; the best kind of colour therapy.

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Seen in the Winter Garden, Auckland Museum Domain. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

This post was written for the Daily Post Photo Challenge. The theme is vibrant.

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Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge: abstract

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Double exposure. Detail, perforated metal plate. Image: Su Leslie, 2016. Edited with Snapseed and Pixlr.

The woman in front’s trolley got away from her on the ramp between the supermarket and the underground car-park. Nothing major, just the loud clang of metal on metal and a hasty putting away of the mobile phone claiming her navigational skills at the time.

This isn’t a post about texting while driving (even a supermarket trolley). That would be hypocrisy, since once the fuss had died down, I got my phone out.

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Cross-hatched perforated steel plate. Image: Su Leslie, 2016. Edited with Snapseed.

I’d noticed the metal plates attached to the walls — the ones she hit so loudly — and something about the simple cross-hatch pattern got me thinking about the artist Len Lye.

Born in New Zealand, Lye became one of the most influential and experimental artists of the twentieth century. He spent his lifetime pursuing the ‘art of movement’; the goal of which was “to affect people physically and emotionally, so that art became a full body experience … with flashing, dancing cinematography, or thunderous, oscillating metallic sculptures.” (1)

I visited the new Len Lye Centre at the Govett Brewster Gallery in New Plymouth a few weeks ago and hugely enjoyed the exhibition of kinetic sculptures and experimental films.

I was introduced to Lye’s work through his films, specifically in a Film Studies class I did with Professor Roger Horrocks at the University of Auckland. As well as being a superb lecturer, Prof. Horrocks is also an expert in Lye’s work — having been his assistant in the 1970s.

So my post for Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge is an experiment in abstraction, and an attempt to capture some of the sense of motion so central to Len Lye’s work.

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Pulsing imagined. Perforated metal plate. Image: Su Leslie, 2016. Edited with Snapseed and Pixlr.

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Join the dance. Double-exposure, perforated metal plate. Image: Su Leslie, 2016. Edited with Snapseed and Pixlr.

(1) The World of Len Lye, Govett Brewster Gallery website.

Art and optimism

Sculpture of old-fashioned gramaphone. Chris Moore, 'Bird Songs' (painted steel, corten steel, stainless steel). Seen at Sculpture in the Gardens 2015, Auckland Botanic Gardens, New Zealand. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Chris Moore, Bird Songs (painted steel, corten steel, stainless steel). Seen at Sculpture in the Gardens 2015/16, Auckland Botanic Gardens, New Zealand. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Art is optimism made manifest. To write a poem, paint a picture, compose music or shape materials into a physical expression of an idea; for me these things entail a hopefulness about the future.

Sculpture seems to me a particularly optimistic art form. It is often large in scale and can  require a lot of expensive materials. The artists need great skill, a lot of time and plenty of money to make work. Sometimes they receive a commission, but more often make work because they have to; because the creative impulse is too strong to ignore.

Sculpture of flying birds and cut-out birds on steel. Bing Dawe, Titipounamu – A Necklace With Lost Gems (Laser cut steel, bronze). Seen at Sculpture in the Gardens 2015/16, Auckland Botanic Gardens, New Zealand. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Bing Dawe, Titipounamu – A Necklace With Lost Gems (Laser cut steel, bronze). Seen at Sculpture in the Gardens 2015/16, Auckland Botanic Gardens, New Zealand. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

The three works shown in this post are all being exhibited at the moment at the Auckland Botanic Gardens as part of the biennial Sculpture in the Gardens. The exhibition, which champions New Zealand artists, runs for a three-month period and is free for visitors. The works exhibited are for sale, and some are bought by the Friends of the Auckland Botanic Gardens to become part of the permanent collection.

Neither Chris Moore’s ‘Bird Songs‘ nor Bing Dawe’s ‘Titipounamu‘ is a particularly optimistic work thematically. Both lament the loss of bird species in New Zealand and elsewhere. But both are very large-scale works in steel which have taken enormous effort as well as vision to create. They draw our attention to the problem, but do so through beauty and creative talent.

Cairn of blown glass "rocks" by New Zealand glass artist Garry Nash, 'Waypoint', (blown glass, stainless steel, glue, sand). Seen at Sculpture in the Gardens, 2015/16, Auckland Botanic Gardens, New Zealand. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Garry Nash, Waypoint, (blown glass, stainless steel, glue, sand). Seen at Sculpture in the Gardens, 2015/16, Auckland Botanic Gardens, New Zealand. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Glass artist Gary Nash’s ‘Waypoint‘ of blown glass shapes is a truly optimistic work, with its clever stacking of delicate glass in what appears to be a somewhat precarious cairn.

Like the art on display, exhibitions such as Sculpture in the Gardens require optimism, and a belief in the power of art to improve the lives of people who experience it.

This post was written for the Daily Post Photo Challenge. This week the theme is optimistic.

Engineering humanity into nature

Te Rewa Rewa Bridge, Coastal Walkway, New Plymouth, New Zealand. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Te Rewa Rewa Bridge, Coastal Walkway, New Plymouth, New Zealand. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Te Rewa Rewa Bridge, open to foot and cycle traffic only, crosses the Waiwhakaiho River on New Plymouth’s coastal walkway.

Te Rewa Rewa Bridge, Coastal Walkway, New Plymouth, New Zealand. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Rising like a giant skeleton, Te Rewa Rewa Bridge, Coastal Walkway, New Plymouth, New Zealand. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

The Big T and I first spotted the bridge’s arched white skeleton from a distance — unsure what exactly we were seeing. The overall impression is one of giant dinosaur or fish bones, or perhaps a breaking wave? The ribbed structure was the designer’s response to the landscape; coastal, semi-rural and also the site of a Maori burial ground.

Te Rewa Rewa Bridge, Coastal Walkway, New Plymouth, New Zealand. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Hidden by the mist, but on a clear day Mt Taranaki is framed by the bridge’s arches. Te Rewa Rewa Bridge, Coastal Walkway, New Plymouth, New Zealand. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Peter Mulqueen, the engineer who designed the bridge has said of his design that it should “touch lightly” on the Rewa Rewa side of the river, in order to honour the deceased (1)

Organic design — allowing human-made structures to harmonise with the natural landscape –is a relatively recent trend in New Zealand engineering projects. It is driven perhaps by a changing philosophy within engineering design towards greater sensitivity to nature, but also owes much to new design technologies which enable engineers to virtually model ideas to test their feasibility and robustness.

The Big T works with such technologies every day, and there is a special pleasure in visiting beautiful works of engineering with him, knowing that the work he and others do is playing a huge role in lightening the touch of humans on the natural world around us.

This post was written for Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge at Lens and Pens by Sally.

(1) Te Rewa Rewa Bridge, Wikipedia.