Herding us towards disaster?


Following the herd. Image: Su Leslie 2018

New Zealand’s wealth has long depended on exploiting natural resources; native forests, marine life (including seals and whales), and — once the trees had been felled — grazing animals on the vast tracts of land left behind.

In the early 1980s, there were 22 sheep for every human living in this country. Then dairy (and to a lesser extent beef) farming became more profitable, and now, while there are still six sheep for every person in NZ, humans are outnumbered about 2:1 by cows, around 65 percent of which are dairy cows.


Farmer moving herd of cows, Tuapeka, Otago, NZ. Image: Su Leslie 2018

Dairy farming in particular is hugely damaging to the natural environment; half of NZ’s greenhouse gas emissions come from this activity, and you can add massive damage to soil and waterways and the impacts of transporting millions of tonnes of milk around the country, etc.

Yet even as the IPCC report is painting a picture of a world in absolute climate crisis, the industry continues to grow, with bigger farms and more land being converted to pasture.

Cows are herding animals, but it seems to me that many humans are too. And once the “dairy is good” herd gained momentum, it is proving incredibly difficult to turn them back.


Turning away from the herd. Image: Su Leslie 2018

Posted to the Ragtag Daily Prompt | herd


Working in colour


Getting ready. Image: Su Leslie 2018

All the spring-cleaning and re-organising of my stuff that’s been going on has revealed the true extent of my fabric stash, and I am determined to start using it.


Green certainly seems to be my colour. Image: Su Leslie 2018

These shades of blue and green seem to form the palette of my life, and I think look really good on my newly painted work table.


New work table, new enthusiasm. Image: Su Leslie 2018

Sanded, sealed, splashed and sealed again; our old table repurposed. The surface is smooth enough for working with fabric, and waterproof so I can use it for painting too.

It’s amazing how having a fun, colourful workspace improves my enthusiasm for a project.

Of course the painting helps. I bought it about 30 years ago from a friend who in turn bought it in an art school graduate show. I love the colours, and the landscape is Auckland’s west coast, probably either Piha or Te Henga beach.

Posted to Ragtag Daily Prompt | colour

Story-telling in glass


Window dedicated to members of the Royal New Zealand Navy and New Zealand Merchant Navy who served in conflicts abroad. Hall of Remembrance, Auckland Museum. Image: Su Leslie 2018

I’ve always been drawn to the Auckland Museum’s Hall of Remembrance — a long marble gallery lit softly by multiple leadlight and stained glass windows set in the walls and ceiling.

It is a quiet space, where symbolism and personal loss hang heavy. Where column after column of names engraved on the walls mark, but do not do justice to, the thousands of New Zealanders who have died in wars, and continue to do so.

It’s difficult to reconcile that still, beautiful space with the noisy, ugly realities of conflict.

But perhaps that is the point.

A lie preserved in stained glass doesn’t make it more true. — Saul Williams

We must shine with hope, stained glass windows that shape light into icons, glow like lanterns borne before a procession. Who can bear hope back into the world but us.  — Marge Piercy

Posted to Lens-Artists Photo Challenge |window