The Changing Seasons, August 2020

dance me to the end of love Art play. Image: Su Leslie 2020

Well, August. A month of two halves.

It started well enough; a visit to the hairdresser, dinner with the boy-child and his partner at a new restaurant, preparing to host a dinner party — even checking flights and accommodation for a trip to Christchurch.

Then Covid-19 re-emerged in the community and Auckland returned to Level 3 lock-down for 19 days, ending last night. Today we begin a period in Level 2.5, and wait to see what will  happen next.

Confinement to barracks meant I had no excuse not to embrace my “Arty August” project. If I’d been hoping for 31 finished pieces of work, I would have been disappointed. Luckily my goals were more about process than product and I’m happy. I’ve played a lot with watercolours — trying to understand washes and blending; experimented with some air-dry clay that’s been in the art box for a while, and transformed a pair of thrift-shoes into a … 3D collage?

Embracing process doesn’t come naturally to me; I am very goal-oriented and naturally tend to become incredibly frustrated when my output doesn’t match my vision.

A few years ago my friend Claire — who is both a talented artist and a very good teacher — said something that stuck with me and helps me find value in everything I make, even when it’s simply marks on paper. She suggested that in each piece of work there is something good; maybe just a tiny part of a sketch that really works, or a blob of colour that’s pleasing. The trick is to find that one thing and enjoy it, celebrate it, and use it to move forward. In the last month I’ve covered lots of sheets of watercolour paper with blobs of colour. None screams out to me as the basis for a work in itself, but together, they suggest materials for a collage.

And if that’s good enough for Eric Carle in The Very Hungry Caterpillar –it’s definitely good enough for me.

As always, when I’m at home a lot, I cook a lot.

I am finding more and more that I want to eat a largely plant-based diet, and mushrooms are not only a favourite food, but work really well to provide the texture and depth of flavour found in meat dishes. I also love miso and am experimenting with making a miso glaze/sauce for mushrooms. The first attempt was pretty good, but needs tweaking.

And continuing my obsession with scones; I went right back to basics with a recipe from Maw Broon’s Cookbook. If you’re not familiar with Maw Broon (i.e. if you’re not Scots), she is the matriarch of a comic strip called The Broons which has appeared in the Scottish newspaper The Sunday Post, since March 1936.

Maw Broon’s Cookbook contains recipes that have formed the basis of Scottish cooking for generations. Many were handed down from mother to daughter, and on again.

I was interested in the recipe for Puff Scones because it uses buttermilk, and because it calls for plain flour, baking soda and cream of tartar — instead of the more usual self-raising flour. I’m not sure if it was the combination of ingredients, or the fact of adding the acid and alkaline raising agents as separate entities, but the scones were amazing. Seriously; they were the lightest, fluffiest scones I’ve ever made (and I’d thrown in some cheese which often makes them more dense).

They have the Big T’s approval, so now I have to try Maw Broon’s treacle scones … and maybe a wee Dundee cake.

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

Please visit these bloggers to find out how July played out for them:

Pauline at Living in Paradise

Suzanne from Life at No. 22

Tracy at Reflections of an Untidy Mind

Joining us this month is Ann-Christine, or Leya, who many of you will know as a host of the great weekly Lens-Artists challenge.

Tish at Writer on the Edge

Marilyn at Serendipity Seeking Intelligent Life on Earth

Little Pieces of Me

Lani at Life, the Universe and Lani

Ju-Lyn at All Things Bright and Beautiful

A Wonderful Sheep

Brian at Bushboy’s World

Layers upon layers

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Evening light, Whanganui River estuary. Image; Su Leslie 2019

This week’s Lens-Artists Photo Challenge asks for interpretations of the word layered.

Do I approach it literally with the layers of a macaron or a cafe breakfast?

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Salted caramel macaron. Not only layering of the biscuits with buttercream, but layers within the baking itself. Image: Su Leslie 2019

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Hash-browns, mushrooms, eggs; layered to look good on the plate and distribute those delicious runny yolks throughout the dish. Image: Su Leslie 2019

Or stacked container layers, gone awry in high winds?

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Containers, Wellington Harbour. High winds have wrecked havoc with the carefully constructed layers. Image: Su Leslie 2017

More broken layers?

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Reflections in the contoured glass exterior of the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery/Len Lye Centre, New Plymouth, NZ. Image: Su Leslie 2017

Or maybe layers in art?

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Detail, ‘Wave 2’ sculpture by Annette Thas. A tidal wave of discarded Barbie dolls installed at Tamarama Beach as part of Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi 2015. Image: Su Leslie

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Layer after layer of discarded Barbie dolls form a wave shape. Layers of plastic and layers of meaning. Image: Su Leslie 2015

And then there are layers created by the two-dimensional nature of photography; compressing landscapes into bands of colour and texture.

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Landscape, Canterbury, NZ. Image: Su Leslie 2019

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Tutukaka, Northland, NZ. Image: Su Leslie 2019

Not to mention layered images; double-exposures, super-impositions.

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Double-exposures; a newly discovered camera setting. Su Leslie 2019

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Photo-montage. Su Leslie 2019

Obviously, I couldn’t decide which to focus on.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge | layered

Just what the doctor ordered

There is quite a lot of evidence that engaging in creative activities improves health — mental and physical. Writing, drawing, painting, making crafts or music, even doodling and colouring in — they can all help to focus our thoughts, increase our happiness, boost our immune systems and even help treat dementia.

I’ve experienced periods of depression for most of my adult life. Of all the treatments I’ve tried, what seems to work best is making stuff; focusing my mind and hands and energy on some creative project, however small. At the moment, it’s Christmas cards.

I’m always a bit reluctant to recommend anything, especially for something as serious as mental health, but there is a significant body of research behind this — and it works for me.

Posted to Ragtag Daily Prompt | recommendation

Regular Random: five minutes investigating the contents of a shelf

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Aprophenia (see below), or a carefully curated installation? Image: Su Leslie, 2018 (click to enlarge image)

I spent much of the weekend in my friend Claire’s studio, photographing the painting and drawing workshops she was running.

In the quiet moments, I turned my lens on the studio itself, including the contents of a shelf tucked away in a back corner.

And in case you’re wondering, Apophenia (/æpˈfniə/) is the tendency to perceive connections and meaning between unrelated things (Merriam-Webster).

Regular Random is a photo challenge hosted by Desley Jane at Musings of a Frequently Flying Scientist. If you’d like to join in:

  • choose a subject or a scene
  • spend five minutes photographing it – no more!
  • try to not interfere with the subject, instead see it from many angles, look through something at it, change the light that’s hitting it
  • have fun!
  • tag your post #regularrandom and ping back to Desley’s post

 

Playtime in the electronic studio

Blurred, exposed twice, tweaked a bit ... Abstract image in blues and greens. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Blurred, exposed twice, tweaked a bit … Image: Su Leslie, 2017

When photography took on the role of offering verisimilitude from painting, it freed painters to experiment with new forms of artistic expression.

Now, the ubiquity of photo-editing tools offers photographers a similar chance to experiment, play, and test the boundaries of the medium.

Blurred image; movement of the camera while shooting in woodland. Image:  Su Leslie, 2017

Error or art? Moving the camera while the shutter is open. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

In the past, “camera shake” and blurring made a photograph seem less valuable. Now such shots are just a starting point for creative play.

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Blurred, another double-exposure and tweaked a bit more. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

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

Six Shot Saturday: Melbourne

 

A restaurant i think. Victoria Street, North Melbourne. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

I’m spending a long weekend with the Big T in Melbourne; one of my very favourite cities. Here are a few shots from my first couple of days here.

i’ve found a new place i could call home. Faded Victorian architecture and lots of quirky shops and cafes — I love you North Melbourne. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

 

“Pop up library” — at Queen Victoria Market, Melbourne. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

 

Taxidermy with bling — Kohei Nawa’s PixCell-Red Deer, seen at National Gallery of Victoria. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

 

Kohei Nawa’s PixCell-Red Deer, seen at National Gallery of Victoria. Quite disturbing seeing deer pelt through the glass beads. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

 

Dancing water. Wall of water in foyer of National Gallery of Victoria. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

 

Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge: looking back on the year

Like Sally and Raewyn (decocraftsdigicrafts),  I’m using this last post of the year to Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge  to look back at some of the images I’ve shared in 2015.

There are definite themes that emerge; my growing fascination with the minutiae of the natural world, my frustration with neo-liberal political and economic systems that devalue both human life and the earth upon which we depend, and a growing interest in the interplay between memory and image. And of course art; particularly sculpture. This last has also provided an excuse to indulge in another love — travel — taking me to Wellington for LUX Festival of Light, Gibbs Farm on the Kaipara, and Sydney for the Sculpture by the Sea exhibition at Bondi.

 

Visitors to Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi, NSW, Australia pose by Norton Flavell's sculpture 'Dust.' Image: Su Leslie, 2015

How to experience art in the twenty first century. Artwork: ‘Dust’ by Norton Flavell. Image: Su Leslie, 2015

At Bondi, I noticed an alarming number of visitors treating works of art as little more than backdrop for selfies; this became the basis of my post Putting yourself in the picture: how to experience art in the 21st century.

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Bernar Venet, ‘88.5 ARC x 8. Gibbs Farm Sculpture Park, Kaipara Harbour, NZ. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

A rainy day visit to the monumental sculptures at Gibbs Farm left me feeling renewed and awed at the juxtaposition of art and landscape (Art in the Outdoors: a vigorous antidote to melancholy)

Art installation, "Feed the Kids Too [Capital]", Turtle Donna Sarten and Bernie Harfleet, Wellington LUX, 2015. Photo; Su Leslie, 2015

Feed the Kids Too [Capital], Turtle Donna Sarten and Bernie Harfleet, Wellington LUX, 2015. Photo; Su Leslie, 2015

My friends Turtle Donna Sarten and Bernie Harfleet took their beautiful and thought-provoking work Feed the Kids Too to Wellington’s LUX Festival where it proved once again to be a hit with visitors.

"All that is solid melts into air" graffitti on old pipes lying alongside the River Thames, London. Black and white photo by Su Leslie, 2015.

Riverside, Greenwich, London. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

Marx’s “all that is solid melts into air” graffiti’d onto rusting pipes beside London’s Thames provoked a piece on urbanisation and unchecked growth — a theme I had already visited in an earlier challenge — On the Half-Gallon, Quarter-Acre Pavlova Paradise.

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High density housing on the city fringes. Far from the “Kiwi quarter acre” and beyond the means of many. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015.

Politics was never far from my thoughts in 2015, as the Big T and I joined many thousands of people around the world protesting at the proposed TPPA agreement.

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The face of peaceful protest to protect New Zealand’s economy, environment and way of life. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

 

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Enjoying the beauty of age. Image: Su Leslie, 2015

Photo-editing as a tool to explore the relationships between image, emotion and memory became increasingly important to me, as I began to focus on the natural world and my place in it.

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Agapanthus. Photo: Su Leslie, 2014. Edited with Snapseed.

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Money tree blossom. Image: Su Leslie, 2015

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Autumn. Photo: Su Leslie 2015.

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Surprisingly warm for the time of year; the boy-child testing the water. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

And sometimes I managed not to over-think and seek deeper meaning. Sometimes, I was able just to enjoy the moment and the images that captured that moment — particularly when it meant spending time with my son.

To Sally, many thanks for hosting this challenge. Thanks too to everyone who takes part and makes the experience so interesting, sociable and rewarding.

Wishing you all a very happy new year.

ngā mihi o te tau hou