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


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.


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.

88.5 degrees ARC x8

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.


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.


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



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.


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


Sally D’s Mobile Photograhy Challenge: black and white

Seen in Sydney. Woolloomooloo Bay Sculpture Walk. Image: Su Leslie, 2015

Seen in Sydney. Woolloomooloo Bay Sculpture Walk. Unknown artist. Image: Su Leslie, 2015

I’m finding it difficult not to feel overwhelmed by the tragedies that engulf so many in the world. I’m thinking not only of acts of terrorism and the on-going refugee crisis, but the less visible evils that are visited upon us. In my own country government policies work hand in hand with corporate greed to create and exacerbate homelessness, poverty, welfare dependence, child deprivation and the long-term consequences of these for physical and mental health.

If feels sometimes that society, instead of being a strong membrane that holds us together, has become infected — a weeping sore through which evil seeps.

Not a cheery thought I grant you, and probably not what the artist who created the sculpture above was thinking. But I found myself looking at the shot with that gloomy thought in mind. Then I found Brecht’s poem below, reminding us that things are always more complex and nuanced that we might want to believe.

On my wall hangs a Japanese carving,
The mask of an evil demon, decorated with gold lacquer.
Sympathetically I observe
The swollen veins of the forehead, indicating
What a strain it is to be evil.

The Mask Of Evil
Bertolt Brecht

It is also a reminder of how much art and beauty can help heal us.

white rose b&w.jpg

Finding peace in simple beauty. Image: Su Leslie, 2015

This post was written for Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge. This week’s theme is black and white.


Daily Post Photo Challenge: Careful


Barbara Licha; ‘ Listen time passes’ seen at Sculpture by the Sea 2015, Bondi Beach, NSW, Australia. image: Su Leslie, 2015

Barbara Licha’s sculpture, Listen time passes  seems to me to fit very well with this week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge theme — careful.

The work is a series of figures encased in wire boxes suspended on poles by a cliff-edge. Although grouped, each figure exists in its own space, separated from the others by the tangle of wire which forms both a  prison, and the support structure that prevents each figure from falling into the ocean.

Barbara Licha; ‘ Listen time passes’ seen at Sculpture by the Sea 2015, Bondi Beach, NSW, Australia. image: Su Leslie, 2015


Detail: Barbara Licha; ‘ Listen time passes’ seen at Sculpture by the Sea 2015, Bondi Beach, NSW, Australia. image: Su Leslie, 2015

The title of the work is a line from the opening monologue of Dylan Thomas’s ‘Under Milkwood’.

The narrator is describing, in rich and careful detail, nighttime in the small town of Llareggub where the inhabitants experience in their dreams the wild and fantastical denied them in their careful waking lives:

The boys are dreaming wicked or of the bucking ranches of the night and the jollyrogered sea.

You can listen to the wonderful Richard Burton as The Narrator, delivering the opening monologue here.

‘Under Milkwood’ is one of my favourite plays; and the opening monologue one of the best ever written. It reminds us that no matter how carefully we craft our social selves, our dreams and passions and loves and losses will always shape our actions and relationships with others. Barbara Licha’s work similarly speaks of the carefully constructed, parallel worlds we each inhabit; touching but not always connecting.

Service disruption: when WordPress and my iPad stop talking to each other

Wellington waterfront, from Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

Wellington waterfront, from Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

I spent the weekend in Wellington, visiting friends, exhibitions and Wellington LUX – a light festival installed along the city’s waterfront. I had intended to write the a few blog posts while I was away, but my iPad decided otherwise. I suspect that the version of iOS I’m running isn’t compatible with the version of WordPress, so while I can eventually access the Reader (after clicking through half a dozen error messages); I can no longer post anything. OK for now, but I’ll have to address the problem before I go to Sculpture by the Sea in Sydney at the end of October.

LUX was wonderful — and definitely worth a separate post — but here is a shot from the installation Shima for Wellington by Murasaki Penguin — a collaborative project between Japanese dancer and choreographer Anna Kuroda and Australian artist David Kirkpatrick.

Murasaki Penguin, 'Shima for Wellington', Wellington LUX, 2015 . Photo: Su Leslie, 2015.

Murasaki Penguin, ‘Shima for Wellington’, Wellington LUX, 2015 . Photo: Su Leslie, 2015.