Culture, Heritage, and International Museum Day

Entrance, Te Papa Tongarewa -- Museum of New Zealand, Wellington, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2014

Te Papa Tongarewa — Museum of New Zealand, Wellington, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2014

Today is International Museum Day (IMD). Museums and art galleries have always been amongst my happy places — oases of culture, history and learning. Places to make discoveries, to connect with the past, and to dream.

The theme of this year’s IMD isMuseums and contested histories: Saying the unspeakable in museums.” According to the International Council of Museums:

This theme focuses on the role of museums that, by working to benefit society, become hubs for promoting peaceful relationships between people. It also highlights how the acceptance of a contested history is the first step in envisioning a shared future under the banner of reconciliation. Media release for launch of IMD: ICoM, May 18, 2017

Like most cultural institutions, museums have traditionally represented culture and heritage from a particular perspective — that of the society’s dominant groups. Women, ethnic and religious minorities, and members of various sub-cultures have tended to find our stories either absent, or told through a lens not our own.

Definitions of “culture” are themselves contested, and in fact I can remember a time in New Zealand when there was widespread popular debate about whether this country could be said to have “a culture” — and if so, of what it might consist.

In 1980, Kiwi band, The Knobz, released the song, Culture, in response to then Prime Minister Rob Muldoon’s assertion that pop music was not “culture.”

Thankfully, New Zealand, and the culture sector has moved on a bit.

I hope that this year’s Museum Appreciation Day theme will encourage both dialogue, and popular engagement with cultures, heritage and museums.

And ok: I’m trying to cover a few bases with this post:

Daily Post Photo Challenge | heritage

Sarah at Art Expedition‘s celebration of the National Appreciation Days that take place in May. Please visit to see her creative responses to these Days.

NZ Music Month

 

National Alpaca Day — yes, really

Close-up shot of alpaca. Image: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Stackables.

Alpaca love. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

So there’s that thing, right? Where you go through life oblivious to stuff (like National Appreciation Days), until someone (my friend Sarah, over at Art Expedition) makes you aware of them.

Then of course, they’re everywhere.

Which is why you’re looking at a picture of an alpaca.

According to a post I saw on FaceBook (no eye-rolling please), in which a friend was tagged, today is National Alpaca Day. At least here in New Zealand it is.

According to the National Alpaca Association of New Zealand, “… Alpaca owners throughout New Zealand open their farms to the public to promote alpacas, alpaca fibre, and alpaca products.”

So if I get off my bum quickly enough, I can spend today overdosing on camelid* cuteness.

Since that’s unlikely to happen, here are some I prepared earlier.

Close-up shot of two alpacas, edited to oil painting effect with Snapseed and Photolab. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

More camelid cuteness. Edited with Snapseed and PhotoLab. Image: Su Leslie, 2017.

Sarah is doing a series of posts this month around the daily National Appreciation Days that take place in May. Please visit Art Expedition to see her clever drawings and paintings, and wonderfully creative posts. Since I don’t have Sarah’s skill with a paintbrush, I’ve enlisted the help of the Snapseed, Stackables and PhotoLab apps.

Group of alpacas.Image: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited to painting effect with Snapseed and PhotoLab.

Not sure of the collective noun for alpacas? Image: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed and PhotoLab.

A song to play us out?

How Bizarre, by OMC (Otara Millionaires Club) was released in December 1995. It was hugely successful in New Zealand, and unusually for Kiwi music, also charted (in 1996) in a number of European countries, as well as Australia, Canada and the US.

I first heard this while driving on the M11 near Bishop’s Stortford.

For those of you who remember the song, does it evoke any memories for you?

May is NZ Music Month.


* Alpacas, like lhamas and camels, belong to the biological family Camelidae, the only currently living family in the suborder Tylopoda. Camelids are even-toed ungulates classified in the order Cetartiodactyla, along with pigs, hippopotamuses, whales, deer, giraffes, cattle, goats, antelope, and many others. So there!

Thank you Wikipedia.

 

Regular random: five minutes with some cool fluffy stuff

Close up shot of burst milkweed seed pod on black background. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Burst swan plant (milkweed) seed pod. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Photographically, the swan plants in our garden have proved to be the gift that keeps on giving: caterpillars, chrysalis, butterflies and now the plant’s decaying seed pods.

I’ve become quite a fan of photographing objects on a black felt background, and I think it works especially well with the slightly other-worldly fluff balls that emerge from the pods.

This week, as well as posting these images for Five Minutes of Random (the RegularRandom challenge), I’m adding a YouTube clip. I’ve had this song — Mud and Stardust — looping in my head ever since I took these photos.

Regular Random is a weekly photo challenge hosted by Desley Jane at Musings of a Frequently Flying Scientist.

Both sides, now

Storm clouds over a field of grazing cows. Seen from the roadside, State Highway 16 Kaipara, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed.

Storm clouds gathering. Seen from the roadside, State Highway 16 Kaipara, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed.

You know that thing, where you’re traveling along and in one direction the weather is all clear blue skies, but on the other it looks like a storm coming?

The Big T and I found that driving back from Atiu Creek at the weekend. Off to the west, the Kairpara Harbour was fair glistening in the sun. At the same time, huge dark clouds were lowering over the east.

Storm clouds approaching over hillside and mangroves. State Highway 16, Kaipara, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed.

Storm clouds approaching. State Highway 16, Kaipara, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed.

The contrast in light was breathtaking. Grass in the slightly parched fields seemed to glow golden, and foliage shimmer, against the matte chalkboard sky.

Just a few miles further south, and the clouds were behind us.

Since I’ve pinched a Joni Mitchell song title for this post, here is the song to enjoy.

Written for Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge at Lens and Pens by Sally. This week the theme is black and white.

“The heart asks pleasure first” … when music shows us nature’s beauty

Karekare Beach, NZ. Clouds and cliffs reflected in wet sand. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Evening; Karakare Beach, New Zealand. Image: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed.

With about 15,000 km of coastline (for a landmass of 268,021 km²), New Zealand does beaches pretty well. But even by our standards, Karakare Beach on Auckland’s west coast is quite spectacular.

North end, Karekare Beach, NZ. Sky, clouds and cliffs reflected in wet sand. Image, Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed.

North end, Karekare Beach, NZ. Image, Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed.

Enjoying the last of the light, Karekare Beach, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed.

Enjoying the last of the light, Karekare Beach, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed.

Sun seting on shoreline, Karekare Beach, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed.

Sunset, Karekare Beach, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed.

For those of you who have seen Jane Campion‘s 1993 film, The Piano, Karekare is the beach where Ada and her daughter are abandoned with the piano. That scene is often remembered because of the music from Michael Nyman‘s beautiful soundtrack — ‘The Heart Asks Pleasure First.’

Close your eyes and listen. In your mind, you will be transported to Karekare.

Written for Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge at Lens and Pens by Sally.


NB: The title of Michael Nyman’s piece comes from Emily Dickinson’s poem of the same name.

Friday flip through the archives

"... and the road seems so much longer when you're alone." Dirty Lucy, 'Ride'  Evening sky in car side mirror. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

  Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Found this image and a line from the Dirty Lucy song Ride popped into my head:

… and the road seems so much longer when you’re alone.

The world is feeling particularly fractured right now — physically, socially and politically — and it is easy to feel overwhelmed. Now more than ever it is important to find others who feel as we do, and join together to work for the future we believe in.