It hasn’t taken long for the closely folded petals of my cheer-me-up tulips to relax and turn their faces to the sun. Image: Su Leslie 2019
“Sculpture occupies real space like we do… you walk around it and relate to it almost as another person or another object.” — Chuck Close, artist.
As I walked past this garage one day, there were two men standing just inside the door. One was wearing overalls, and it was his voice I heard.
I don’t claim this is a verbatim recollection of his words — but it’s pretty close.
“Yeah, I could do it cheaper, but I couldn’t do a good job. I’d have to compromise: on parts, on our time. And that’s not the way I work.”
I would love to have heard the other man’s response (I assumed he was a potential customer). But the doorway wasn’t that wide and I’d have looked really conspicuous stopping to eavesdrop. So I carried on, thinking about those words.
A couple of days later, I walked past again, but on the other side of the street. That’s when I noticed the sign — Leo’s Way.
I know a lot of small business people. I used to be one. It’s a tough way to make a living and there is an almost constant pressure to lower one’s prices. Mass-produced goods — especially those made in countries where costs can be kept very low — have created a culture of price over value. A throwaway world where it’s made easy to buy cheap and replace often. Where skill and experience, craftsmanship and quality are downplayed and punished.
The terrible environmental and social costs of such mindless consumption are becoming clear — at least to some of us. One way or another, things must change.
One day, the world will wake up and realise how much we need craftsmen like Leo. I hope there are some left.
We tend to think of relaxation as a personal experience — the places and activities and moments that refresh and recharge us. Indeed, it’s not uncommon to find our attempts to relax utterly thwarted by the presence of too many other people with the same intent.
But sometimes it seems, relaxation can be collective. So many people arrived at Castlecliff Beach in Whanganui to watch this glorious mid-winter sunset, the little carpark ended up full. Families were picnicking on the beach, others in their cars, and a couple of groups lit driftwood fires. No-one played loud music or behaved badly; we were all too focused on enjoying nature’s theatre.