Pleasure in ambiguity

cobbled lane north melbourne

Who else has passed this way? Cobbled lane, North Melbourne, Australia. Image: Su Leslie 2016

“To me photography must suggest, not insist or explain.”
– Brassaï

Ambiguity in an image can come from many sources; choice of subject, an unusual camera angle or focal point, unexpected movement, or shooting through an opaque surface — to think of a few.

bubble deer state gallery vic

Detail, PixCell-Red Deer, sculpture by Kohei Nawa, seen at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia. Image: Su Leslie 2016

wall of water state gallery vic

Out there. Visitors outside the National Gallery of Victoria, seen from the Waterwall. Image: Su Leslie 2016

By suggesting, rather than explaining, the photographer allows every viewer to create their own meanings and stories.

More fun that way.

Posted to Debbie’s weekly quotation-inspired image challenge at Travel with Intent

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Sing out strong

singer songwriter

Young talent. My young friend Aiko performing at her mother’s book launch. Image: Su Leslie 2018

One of the pleasures of getting older is watching children I’ve known since birth develop their talents and grow into themselves as adults.

Posted to Ragtag Daily Prompt | sing

The loveliest distance

child drawing

“A curved line is the loveliest distance between two points.” — unknown. Children’s art class. Image: Su Leslie 2018

Art begins with the line; sketches, paintings, even three dimensional works.

It seems to me that the urge to mark lines on a surface is quite fundamentally human. From paleolithic cave art to toddlers “redecorating” walls with Mum’s lipstick (true story — but it was my brother, honest); in all times and at all ages we seek to explore, document and indeed change our world with lines and all that flows from them.

Or as art historian Sir Kenneth Clark put it:

The difference between what we see and a sheet of white paper with a few thin lines on it is very great. Yet this abstraction is one which we seem to have adopted almost instinctively at an early stage in our development, not only in Neolithic graffiti but in early Egyptian drawings. And in spite of its abstract character, the outline is responsive to the least tremor of sensibility. 

At a cultural level, line-making helps to define humanity.

At a personal level it makes us happy — and sometimes deeply unhappy.

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” — Pablo Picasso

The joy children experience in making art can so quickly be extinguished by external — and internal — critics. “That’s no good” becomes “you’re hopeless at art”, which becomes “I’m not creative.” I actually heard a woman at an art workshop say that while introducing herself to the group.

I started writing this post for Debbie’s One Word Sunday, where this week the word is lines. Then I realised that when I talk about art, and about making art, I am also talking about happiness. So I’m adding the post also to the Lens-Artists challenge | happiness is.

Little shop of delights

Studio Sale, Claire Delaney Studio, Auckland, NZ. Image: Su Leslie 2018

I’m a buyer, not a shopper. I tend to know what I need and dislike shopping as recreation.

There are exceptions of course. I love bookshops (especially second-hand) and small independent galleries.

And pop-up shops run by those who make the products; like my friend Claire’s studio sale last weekend.

Studio Sale, Claire Delaney Studio, Auckland, NZ. Image: Su Leslie 2018

Claire makes her living entirely from art — teaching, painting and book illustration. Her annual pre-Christmas sale — which this year included the new edition of her book Little Wing — is an important source of her income.

I’m pleased to say that (appropriately) Little Wing was flying off the shelves, and there were lots of red stickers on the original art too.

Ragtag Daily Prompt | Shop

Just what the doctor ordered

There is quite a lot of evidence that engaging in creative activities improves health — mental and physical. Writing, drawing, painting, making crafts or music, even doodling and colouring in — they can all help to focus our thoughts, increase our happiness, boost our immune systems and even help treat dementia.

I’ve experienced periods of depression for most of my adult life. Of all the treatments I’ve tried, what seems to work best is making stuff; focusing my mind and hands and energy on some creative project, however small. At the moment, it’s Christmas cards.

I’m always a bit reluctant to recommend anything, especially for something as serious as mental health, but there is a significant body of research behind this — and it works for me.

Posted to Ragtag Daily Prompt | recommendation

Time to brush up my printing skills

The problem with having a tidy-up is finding evidence of past enthusiasms and becoming side-tracked.

Once upon a time, an art teacher friend kindly showed me how to do lino block printing.

(My lack of talent is no reflection on her teaching abilities btw).

At that time I obviously acquired some blocks, carving tools, roller and ink. Today I found them again.

Cutting turns out to be easier than I remember, but I really need to work on the printing side of things.

But as my work-table graffiti tells me; it really is worth it.