Portraits of the spirit

Detail: 'Jockey' by Francis Upritchard. From the exhibition, Jealous Saboteurs. Seen at Wellington City Gallery. Image: Su Leslie, 2016. Edited with Snapseed and Stackables.

Detail: ‘Jockey’ by Francis Upritchard. From the exhibition, Jealous Saboteurs. Seen at Wellington City Gallery. Image: Su Leslie, 2016. Edited with Snapseed and Stackables.

A gallery of clay figures; posed, painted, dressed. All different, but at the same time strikingly similar. One face in many disguises?

This gallery of characters forms part of the exhibition Jealous Saboteurs — a survey of work by Francis Upritchard, a New Zealand-born, London-based artist. They are clever and whimiscal — drawing on motifs and imagery from many sources.

Detail: 'Mandrake', by Francis Upritchard, Jealous Saboteurs exhibition at the City Gallery, Wellington, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2016. Edited with Snapseed and Stackables.

Detail: ‘Mandrake’, by Francis Upritchard, Jealous Saboteurs exhibition at the City Gallery, Wellington, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2016. Edited with Snapseed and Stackables.

In sculptures of the human form, the eyes are almost always blank — there is no discernible pupil or iris to give us the visual cues we draw from living people. So if eyes are “the window to the soul” — how do we read statues?

Detail: 'Potato Seller' by Francis Upritchard. From the exhibition, Jealous Saboteurs. Seen at The City Gallery, Wellington, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2016. Edited with Snapseed and Stackables.

Detail: ‘Potato Seller’ by Francis Upritchard. From the exhibition, Jealous Saboteurs. Seen at The City Gallery, Wellington, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2016. Edited with Snapseed and Stackables.

Without the clues provided by body and clothing, what can we say about these figures, who all seem to share the same facial features. Can we discern, or perhaps imagine, emotions? Is it possible to create meaningful portraits of a statue? I’m interested in your views.

Detail: (name unknown) by Francis Upritchard. From the exhibition, Jealous Saboteurs. Seen at The City Gallery, Wellington, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2016. Edited with Snapseed and Stackables.

Detail: (name unknown) by Francis Upritchard. From the exhibition, Jealous Saboteurs. Seen at The City Gallery, Wellington, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2016. Edited with Snapseed and Stackables.

Detail: 'Yellow and Black Gown' by Francis Upritchard. From the exhibition, Jealous Saboteurs. Seen at The City Gallery, Wellington, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2016. Edited with Snapseed and Stackables.

Detail: ‘Yellow and Black Gown’ by Francis Upritchard. From the exhibition, Jealous Saboteurs. Seen at The City Gallery, Wellington, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2016. Edited with Snapseed and Stackables.

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

The title is from Robert Louis Stevenson, who said:

It is not likely that posterity will fall in love with us, but not impossible that it may respect or sympathize; so a man would rather leave behind him the portrait of his spirit than a portrait of his face. — Robert Louis Stevenson

 

 

 

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Quest for improvement

Sourdough foccacia with rosemary and olive oil. Image: Su Leslie, 2016


A year or so ago the Big T and I created a sourdough starter: flour, water and whatever bacteria and yeasts inhabit our kitchen. We feed it, keep it warm and sniff it a lot to check its health. We also bake bread: mainly wholewheat, but sometimes fruit bread or foccacia.

Over the year our bread has got better but there is always room for improvement in our quest for the perfect loaf.

Proved dough ready for toppings and baking. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Lunch: greek salad with homemade sourdough foccacia. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

The last morsel. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

 

This week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge theme is Quest.

… a cube of sunlight

 

Black and white shot, Oriental Bay boatsheds, with St Gerald's church in the background. Wellington, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Oriental Bay boatsheds, with St Gerald’s church in the background. Wellington, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2016. Edited with Snapseed.

I recently spent a long weekend in Wellington; the world’s southernmost capital city and one of my favourite happy-places.

Wellington is a small city, full of art and culture and great places to eat and drink coffee. Bounded by the sea and the hills, it works on a human scale. Everywhere is walkable, even in one of the howling gales for which Wellington is famous.

I arrived in the midst of such a storm. Throughout the flight from Auckland the captain warned that we might be in for a “bit of jostling” as our plane approached Wellington airport. He wasn’t joking.

Girls pose with the Max Patte sculpture, 'Solace in the Wind.' Wellington waterfront. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Waterfront sculpture. Max Patte, ‘Solace of the wind‘ — with admirers. Wellington waterfront. Image: Su Leslie, 2016. Edited with Snapseed.

Although the wind dropped a little over the weekend, it remained a grey and windy time — perfect for black & white photography.

Wellington street sculpture. Terry Stringer, 'Grand Head', Victoria Street, Wellington. Image: Su Leslie, 2016.

Wellington street art. Terry Stringer, ‘Grand Head‘, Victoria Street, Wellington. Image: Su Leslie, 2016. Edited with Snapseed.

Sculpture on Wellington waterfront. Michael Tuffery, 'Nga Kina', sculpture at Kumutoto Wharf, Wellington waterfront. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Michael Tuffery, ‘Nga Kina‘, sculpture at Kumutoto Wharf, Wellington waterfront. Image: Su Leslie, 2016. Edited with Snapseed.

After the movies. Coffee and cake at kaffee eis, Cuba Street, Wellington. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

After the movies. Coffee and cake at kaffee eis, Cuba Street, Wellington. Image: Su Leslie, 2016. Edited with Snapseed.

'The Beehive', NZ Parliament building, Wellington, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

‘The Beehive’, NZ Parliament building, Wellington, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2016. Edited with Snapseed.

Indoor sculpture. Francis Uprichard, 'Mandrake', from Jealous Saboteurs exhibition at Wellington City Gallery. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

More sculpture indoors. Francis Upritchard, ‘Mandrake‘, from Jealous Saboteurs exhibition at Wellington City Gallery. Image: Su Leslie, 2016. Edited with Snapseed.

The title of this post comes from the Alistair Te Ariki Campbell’s poem ‘Blue Rain.’ An extract, below,  is included in the Wellington Writers’ Walk — a series of “typographical sculptures” placed around the city. It occurs to me that the phase “cube of sunlight” might also be applied to photography.

“Blue rain from a clear sky.
Our world a cube of sunlight –
but to the south
the violet admonition
of thunder.”

— Alistair Te Ariki Campbell. From ‘Blue Rain’ in The Dark Lord of Savaiki: Collected Poems, Hazard Press, 2003

Posted to Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge, at Lens and Pens by Sally.

 

 

On inspiration, making stuff and labours of love

Su Leslie, choirboy doll. Polymer clay, wire, fabric, paint. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Choirboy doll. Polymer clay, wire, fabric, paint. Su Leslie, 2016. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Needing more physical projects in my largely online world, I’ve been pootling around making various things, indulging my enthusiasm for anything artistic or craft-based

The messenger bag I talked about a couple of weeks ago (here), worked well on its maiden trip to Wellington last weekend, and I’ve finally got around to photographing one of the dolls I made as a result of a workshop with my friend, artist Claire Delaney.

I love the doll-making process. Not only does it involve different techniques and processes (clay-sculpting, armature-making, fabric construction); it’s also wonderfully iterative. At each stage I’m surprised by something and often have to change direction in the project to accommodate what has evolved (especially at the clay-sculpting stage).

The boy-child claims I’ve used him as inspiration for my choirboy doll — but I can’t imagine what he means. Hehe.

The boy-child with a box of hand-painted eggs, ready for the annual Easter Egg roll on Mt Victoria, Devonport, NZ. Image: Su Leslie

The boy-child at 8; with a box of hand-painted eggs ready for our annual Easter Egg rolling. Angelic face, but a choirboy??? Image: Su Leslie, 2006

The boy-child, aged 11. Image: Su Leslie, 2009.

Well, maybe the hair? The boy-child at 11. Image, Su Leslie, 2009.

Claire is a talented artist, and a very good teacher. She began making dolls as an aid to illustrating the children’s book she has written and published.  Little Wing is a lovely story, beautifully illustrated. It is letterpress printed and hand-bound — a true labour of love.

Find out more about Claire’s art.

The making of Little Wing