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

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.

“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.

Handy skill to have (pun totally intended)

My friend Claire teaches art classes and workshops, including one on doll-making.

She learned this skill so she could make 3-D models of the characters she wrote about and drew in her first published book, Little Wing.

Some of her students wanted to try their hand at making dolls too, so the workshops were born.

I recently spent a day photographing Claire and her students. When I arrived they were making hands, which I know from my own doll-making attempts are VERY fiddly.

And very rewarding when you get it right.

Posted to the Ragtag Daily Prompt | Skill

Standing out from the crowd

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Fatih Semiz; Curious Dreams of an Architect — III. Sculpture by the Sea 2018. Image: Su Leslie 2018

In one respect, placing over 100 contemporary sculptures around a coastal path in suburban Sydney does make them stand out — but it’s relative.

Some works,distinguished by their scale, colour, subject matter or position, couldn’t help but announce their presence.

 

Smaller, more subtle works sometimes seemed to blend in to the environment, and required time and closer inspection.

 

Other sculptures found themselves jostling for space. Over 40 of the 107 sculptures exhibited were sited in Marks Park, which is about midway around the Sculpture by the Sea trail. It is home to the pop-up gallery of smaller indoor sculptures and the event’s hospitality area, so despite some of the works being quite large, many simply didn’t stand out in the crowded space.

 

Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are, by Sydney artists Gillie and Marc Schattner,  was the only work that really stood out for me in the Marks Park area. The artists’ statement says about it:

“The work calls on the world to welcome endangered species out from hiding, into a place of safety and love.”

And finally, there were works that weren’t always recognised as sculptures.

Several sites containing discarded items — including the bottles and cans below — formed a work concerned with the waste produced by our society.

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One element from Monique Bedwell’s, But It’s Not My Rubbish. Sculpture by the Sea, 2018. Image: Su Leslie 2018

Hossein Valamanesh’s Conversations, involved weaving Persian carpets into seven existing public benches sited along the coastal path. This chap was not the only visitor who seemed confused by the rather beautiful, if understated, work.

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One of the seven works in Hossein Valamanesh’s, Conversations. Sculpture by the Sea, 2018. Image: Su Leslie 2018

Posted to Lens-Artists Photo Challenge | Blending In –Or Standing Out?

Postcards from Sydney #4

This is my last night at the quirky and frankly brilliant Collectionist Hotel, so it’s fitting I begin by showing you some of the things that make this place so nice.

I’ve just left “happy hour” — a three hour evening ritual, where the staff put on complimentary drinks and nibbles for guests. I’m normally too introverted for anything like this, but I as arrived home, the lovely young man who has organised my late check-out offered me a drink, and it would have been rude to refuse. It’s a very nice beer (above) for anyone who’s interested.

In general I’m not a fan of Nespresso machines — or of any device that relies on single-use consumables. But, I have to admit, having one in my room has been brilliant. The coffee is really very good. And the little cup — which looks like a disposable — is ceramic.

Even better though is the presence of a jar of loose tea and a pot to make it in!! So much nicer than teabags.

My day has involved lots of art, lots of walking, and too much food (including some breakfast banana bread also provided by the hotel).

I’ve been to the Modern Art Museum and to the NSW Art Gallery. As with any gallery, there is much to love and a lot that I just don’t connect with.

I’ve realised from my photos on this trip, that I am more and more interested in three-dimensional art that works with the human form. My Bondi photos show this, and it was reinforced at the NSW Art Gallery tonight.

Walking, Wei Wang: seen at Sculpture by the Sea, Bipondi.

Shifting Horizons, April Pine. Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi.

The English Channel, Michael Parakowhai. NSW Art Gallery

Veiled Female Bust, Agathon Leonard, NSW Art Gallery

I like Sydney. It is in a beautiful location. There are so many places to eat. Public transport is frequent, reliable and seems affordable. People are really friendly, and everywhere you go there are directional signs with destinations and distances — for pedestrians and cyclists.

But: it is a city that seems to be “under construction.” Everywhere I look there are building sites and cranes and people in hard-hats. That means it is also very, very noisy. More than the traffic and the planes overhead, the sounds of construction are relentless.

Snapshot of development: the view from Pyrmont Bridge.

I have totally loved my time here, but I am looking forward to going home tomorrow.

Postcards from Sydney #3

Damien Hirst Looking for Sharks, Cool Shit.

Short postcard today. I was up early, and walking the Bondi sculpture trail before 8am to avoid the heat and crowds.

Definitely the way to go– but my knee is paying for all the stairs and steep streets between Tamarama Beach and Bondi Road.

Walking, Wei Wang. Bronze sculpture, visitor and resting bird.

Sea Scene, Rebecca Rose (a New Zealand artist).

These were some of my favourite shots.

The other nice thing about getting to Bondi early, is that it left lots of time to do other things too. so I’ve been “playing tourist” wandering along Circular Quay and past the Opera House.

While I admire the exterior architecture, I’m not a great fan of the interior and couldn’t face the stairs up to the entrance.

Instead, I went to the NSW State Library.

Like the Victoria State Library in Melbourne, this is housed in a beautiful neo-classical building (oops, forgot to photograph the exterior I was so keen to see inside).

The main reading room is lovely

… and I was very taken with this ‘Curate your own Exhibition’ activity on the lower floor. There were two boxes of prints that people could put into the frames. A lovely way to engage visitors.

I’ll leave you with the sunset view from my balcony — sans wine tonight. I’m just too tired.

Postcards from Sydney #2

I am definitely feeling my age — or perhaps just my arthritic knee.

I visited Sculpture by the Sea today, and found that by the time I got to the trail end at Tamarama Beach, my knee was aching and I was feeling quite tired.

I suspect this may partly have been due to how busy the exhibition was. Trying to enjoy art with so many people intent on taking selfies is exhausting.

With 107 sculptures being exhibited, there is so much to see, and I will go back — probably quite early in the morning to avoid the worst of the crowds.

In the meantime, here are a few images from my day.

Another glimpse of my home away from home. The balcony is proving to be a lovely place to enjoy breakfast and dinner — and a glass of wine as the sun goes down.

There seems to be quite a lot of sculptures featuring human forms at this year’s exhibition. Here are a few of them:

Detail, “Niemand”: Victor Fresno, 2015 (with friend). Full sculpture below.

Bank”: Mu Boyan, 2017. One of the most popular sculptures, judging by the crowds surrounding it.

Thoughts of Pinocchio”: Kim Bongsoo — and detail below.

Look inside my mind”: Studioex@UNSW

I’ll leave you with a shot I took outside a bookshop in Newtown. I like the Karen Walker quote (she’s a Kiwi fashion designer for those who don’t know), but I absolutely love the blind-date book idea. What should I choose?