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


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.


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.


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?

Blue skies and art

I’m a fan of Ramon Robertson‘s work. The Glasgow-born, Auckland-based sculptor explores themes of urbanisation, mass production and human engagement with the built environment, often placing stylised human forms in structural contexts.

Gravity Bag (above):

… is a black timber tower standing at 280 cm with a group of 15 concrete figures standing on top.

The figures depict senior architects, junior architects, planners and contractors who are experimenting with the idea of wearing sand bags to work out an alternative way of assessing the gravity pull on built structures. (Sculptor of the Week — Ramon Robertson, Our Auckland, 11 February 2016)

Because much of his work involves figures — often garbed in unusual ways — atop plinths, to see it close-up means looking upward into surprisingly characterful faces molded from concrete and resin.


In context. Gravity Bag, by Ramon Robertson, installed at the Auckland Botanic Gardens for Sculpture in the Gardens, 2015-6.

We visited Sculpture in the Gardens on a perfect blue day, and I love the contrast between the intense blue sky and the figures — which themselves are a contrast of light and shadow.

Posted to Ragtag Daily Prompt | contrast, and Lens-Artist Photo Challenge | look up


The Changing Seasons, September 2018


Detail, Diminishing Returns, sculpture in bronze by Bing Dawe. Havelock North, Hawke’s Bay, NZ. Image Su Leslie 2018

Spring flowers and art.

Both of these things make me happy, but throw in good company, good food and some wine — and I’m positively beaming.

September has delivered on all of these things, almost simultaneously in the last few days while the Big T and I have been on holiday in Napier.

On the east coast, about 400km from Auckland, Napier is a city in Hawke’s Bay. In February 1931, it was at the epicentre of a magnitude 7.8 earthquake which killed 256 people, injured thousands, and devastated much of the region, including destroying most of the buildings in central Napier and the neighouring town of Hastings.

Both Napier and Hastings were rebuilt, with much of the new architecture in the Art Deco style. Today, Napier is considered one of the finest Art Deco cities in the world.

Five major rivers flow into the Hawke’s Bay region, providing huge areas of fertile land for agriculture, and more recently viticulture. Local vineyards produce award-winning wines, so naturally T and I tasted a few (along with locally brewed beers and ciders).

It would have been wrong not to.

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.


Here is what September looked like for some other bloggers

Max at Cardinal Guzman

Sarah at Art Expedition

Tracy at Reflections of an Untidy Mind

Marilyn at Serendipity Seeking intelligent life on Earth

Mick at Mick’s Cogs

Jude at Under a Cornish Sky

Deb at The Widow Badass Blog

Joanne at My Life Lived Full

Lee at Ladyleemanila

Klara over at lessywannagohome on Blogspot

Ruth at Ruth’s Arc

Pauline at Living in Paradise

Ju Lyn at All Things Bright and Beautiful

Little Pieces of Me — who joins us for the first time.