New views and processes

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Cooling off. Polymer clay doll form after baking. Image: Su Leslie 2019

When we look at a piece of art, it is easy to forget that in its making, it may have gone through many stages or forms quite different to the end result.

Polymer clay doll-making is an excellent example, often beginning with a wire and aluminium foil armature around which clay is formed — sometimes for the whole body, but in many cases just for heads, hands and feet.

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Once the clay is sculpted and baked it must be cooled before the soft materials that will form the body can be attached. Image: Su Leslie 2019

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Clay, especially small pieces, are extremely fragile and need to be properly cooled before the next stage can begin. Image: Su Leslie 2019

I have made dolls in the past, but these belong to students at a recent workshop held by an artist friend. I was there solely as the photographer.

I must say though, it did rather inspire me.

Posted to the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge | something different

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“Art … is a form of truth”

If art is to nourish the roots of our culture, society must set the artist free to follow his vision wherever it takes him… We must never forget that art is not a form of propaganda; it is a form of truth.” John F. Kennedy

Posted to Debbie’s Six Word Saturday

The Changing Seasons: January 2019

all done with a chainsawStihl more to do. Image: Su Leslie 2019

There are worse metaphors for my month than the Big T’s chainsaw.

There have been days when I’ve effortlessly cut through “the big stuff”, and others when it’s felt like my plans and good intentions have been chopped off at the knees.

But overall, we managed to tackle some jobs that have been over-long in the “too hard” basket, and reward ourselves with a few escapes from our normal landscape.

I’ve already posted shots from most of these trips, (very poor planning) so here are a some from a long-delayed visit to The Lighthouse (see below), an exploration of the walk and cycleway under Mangere Bridge (we weren’t even sure it existed), a visit to the beautiful Northland beach at Whananaki where T and I once camped, and a few days in Rotorua.

A highlight of that trip was the Redwoods Tree Walk; 28 connected suspension bridges, up to 20 metres off the ground in the midst of the redwood forest. I hate heights — but it was fabulous. It is open until 11pm, and the forest is lit up at night, but there were massive queues the evening we considered it, while we had the daytime walk almost to ourselves.

It hasn’t felt like a particularly creative month. I messed around with a design for a tote to hold a couple of bottles of wine, on the basis that this (suitably filled) would make a good gift. The design is good, but I’m struggling with execution.

In the kitchen, my sourdough obsession has produced a few attempts at pizza / pizza bread. I’m definitely getting there, and T is happy for me to keep experimenting!!

About The Changing Seasons

The Changing Seasons is a monthly challenge where bloggers around the world share what’s been happening in their month.

If you would like to join in, here are the guidelines:

The Changing Seasons Version One (photographic):

  • Each month, post 5-20 photos in a gallery that you feel represent your month
  • Don’t use photos from your archive. Only new shots.
  • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so that others can find them

The Changing Seasons Version Two (you choose the format):

  • Each month, post a photo, recipe, painting, drawing, video, whatever that you feel says something about your month
  • Don’t use archive stuff. Only new material!
  • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so others can find them.

If you do a ping-back to this post, I can update it with links to all of yours.

Update

Ladyleemanila

Tracy at Reflections of an Untidy Mind

Marilyn at Serendipity — Seeking Intelligent Life on Earth

Tish at Writer on the Edge

The Covert Novelist

Joanne at My Life Lived Full

Deb at The Widow Badass

Ju-Lyn at All Things Bright and Beautiful

Jude at Living on the Edge

Little Pieces of Me

Pauline at Living in Paradise

Ruth at Ruth’s Arc

Sarah at Art Expedition

Yvette at Priorhouse blog

 

 


The Lighthouse is a work of public art by NZ sculptor Michael Parakowhai. It’s sited at the very end of Queen’s Wharf in the CBD and from the outside, is a 1:1 scale replica of a New Zealand “state house” of the 1950s. The interior is completely open and contains clustered neon lights and a large scale statue of Captain Cook (there is an identical sculpture in the New South Wales Art Gallery).

It’s an interesting work — with the interior defying expectations. I didn’t manage to capture any particularly good interior shots, but there is one in this article. And uou can read more about it here.

2018 through my lens

In the final Lens-Artists photo challenge for 2018, Ann-Christine asks us to review our photos of the past year and share some favourites.

There are threads that run through all my photography: preferred subjects, lenses, and styles of composition. Food, flowers, beaches and art are always well-represented in the archive.

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The first plums harvested from our tree. Image: Su Leslie 2018

My enjoyment of food photography is a natural extension of my passion for food. What I like best about the shot above is that it was my first (and only) “take.” I don’t have a dedicated studio, and have to construct a set-up for every shoot. Because I’ve done the close-up-on-black-background style of photography before, I was able to set this up really quickly and got the shot I wanted first time.

What’s not to love about dramatic landscapes?

Manukau Heads, from Huia. Auckland, New Zealand. Su Leslie 2018

Manukau Heads, from Huia. Auckland, New Zealand. Su Leslie 2018

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Old garage, Whangaehu, Whanganui. Image: Su Leslie 2018

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Morning walk, Greenhithe. Image: Su Leslie 2018

Or beautiful flowers?

I like the shots below because they not only remind me of a great visit to Sydney to indulge in my passion for art, but about being in the right place at the right time.

This year, my interest in art has taken a new direction with an on-going commission to photograph the life of a friend’s art studio. Because it’s both a working and teaching space, I have suddenly found myself learning to take portraits — not only of a dear friend but also the many students she teaches, and a couple of events the studio has hosted.

I’ve chosen the portraits above, not because I think they are necessarily great photos, but because they represent moments in women’s lives that I was privileged to be able to share.

My favourite photograph of 2018 is another portrait.

 

The Big T, with whom I’ve shared my life for 32 years, doesn’t generally like being photographed, so allowing me to point my camera at him is an act of generosity, if not love. For which I am really grateful.

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The Big T. Image: Su Leslie 2018

Wishing you all a very happy and creative year ahead.

“The Garbo of the Skies”

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Statue commemorating Jean Batten, New-Zealand born aviator of the 1930s. Image: Su Leslie 2018

It’s almost a year since I was inspired by Anabel at Glasgow Gallivanter (in Hidden Histories, a guest post at Retirement Reflections) to search out public commemorations of women’s achievements in my home city of Auckland.

My initial post focused on the ways Women’s Suffrage has been remembered in public art around the city, and since then I’ve only managed a (quite accidental) post about the botanist Lucy Moore who has a park and stormwater pond named after her in Warkworth, north of Auckland.

So today I bring you aviator Jean Batten (1909-1982) who, during the 1930s made a series of record-breaking solo flights, including a return flight from England to Australia (1934), the first flight by a woman across the South Atlantic (1935), and ever direct flight from England to New Zealand in October (1936). She made her last long-distance flight in 1937, returning to England from Australia.

She retired from flying, aged only 28 and spent the rest of her life in relative obscurity, living and traveling, first of all with her mother, then alone after the latter’s death in 1966.

The last anyone heard from Jean was in November 1982, when she wrote to her publisher in London, letting him know her new address in Majorca.

It took until September 1987 for researchers to learn that she had died alone in a hotel within weeks of arriving in Majorca, and had been buried in a mass pauper grave. She had suffered a dog bite, and refusing treatment, died of a pulmonary abscess at the age of 73.

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Detail, statue of Jean Batten, aviator, located outside the International Terminal, Auckland Airport. Image: Su Leslie 2018

Jean Batten left New Zealand in 1929, and only returned as an occasional visitor. In recordings I’ve heard of her speeches and interviews, she sounds terribly British, and I’m not sure how much her Kiwi origins were public knowledge.

But her achievements, in an overwhelmingly male field of endeavour, were considerable and she deserves to be recognised and celebrated.

The International Terminal at Auckland Airport (where the statue above is located) is named after her, as are streets in in Auckland, Christchurch, Mount Maunganui, Wellington and Rotorua. The Jean Batten Building (in Jean Batten Place, Auckland) no longer exists, but the facade has been incorporated into the high-rise constructed on its site. She has had a primary school named after her, and in her hometown of Rotorua, another statue is sited at the airport.

The title of this post is taken from the 1988 television documentary titled Jean Batten: the Garbo of the Skies, directed by Ian Mackersey, who in 1991 published a biography with the same name. It was the research team working on Mackersey’s documentary that uncovered the mystery of Jean Batten’s death.

You can also find more information about Jean Batten at Te Ara: The Encylopedia of New Zealand and NZEdge: The Global Life of New Zealanders.

Pleasure in ambiguity

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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.

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

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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