Standing out from the crowd


Fatih Semiz; Curious Dreams of an Architect — III. Sculpture by the Sea 2018. Image: Su Leslie 2018

In one respect, placing over 100 contemporary sculptures around a coastal path in suburban Sydney does make them stand out — but it’s relative.

Some works,distinguished by their scale, colour, subject matter or position, couldn’t help but announce their presence.


Smaller, more subtle works sometimes seemed to blend in to the environment, and required time and closer inspection.


Other sculptures found themselves jostling for space. Over 40 of the 107 sculptures exhibited were sited in Marks Park, which is about midway around the Sculpture by the Sea trail. It is home to the pop-up gallery of smaller indoor sculptures and the event’s hospitality area, so despite some of the works being quite large, many simply didn’t stand out in the crowded space.


Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are, by Sydney artists Gillie and Marc Schattner,  was the only work that really stood out for me in the Marks Park area. The artists’ statement says about it:

“The work calls on the world to welcome endangered species out from hiding, into a place of safety and love.”

And finally, there were works that weren’t always recognised as sculptures.

Several sites containing discarded items — including the bottles and cans below — formed a work concerned with the waste produced by our society.


One element from Monique Bedwell’s, But It’s Not My Rubbish. Sculpture by the Sea, 2018. Image: Su Leslie 2018

Hossein Valamanesh’s Conversations, involved weaving Persian carpets into seven existing public benches sited along the coastal path. This chap was not the only visitor who seemed confused by the rather beautiful, if understated, work.


One of the seven works in Hossein Valamanesh’s, Conversations. Sculpture by the Sea, 2018. Image: Su Leslie 2018

Posted to Lens-Artists Photo Challenge | Blending In –Or Standing Out?

Postcards from Sydney #4

This is my last night at the quirky and frankly brilliant Collectionist Hotel, so it’s fitting I begin by showing you some of the things that make this place so nice.

I’ve just left “happy hour” — a three hour evening ritual, where the staff put on complimentary drinks and nibbles for guests. I’m normally too introverted for anything like this, but I as arrived home, the lovely young man who has organised my late check-out offered me a drink, and it would have been rude to refuse. It’s a very nice beer (above) for anyone who’s interested.

In general I’m not a fan of Nespresso machines — or of any device that relies on single-use consumables. But, I have to admit, having one in my room has been brilliant. The coffee is really very good. And the little cup — which looks like a disposable — is ceramic.

Even better though is the presence of a jar of loose tea and a pot to make it in!! So much nicer than teabags.

My day has involved lots of art, lots of walking, and too much food (including some breakfast banana bread also provided by the hotel).

I’ve been to the Modern Art Museum and to the NSW Art Gallery. As with any gallery, there is much to love and a lot that I just don’t connect with.

I’ve realised from my photos on this trip, that I am more and more interested in three-dimensional art that works with the human form. My Bondi photos show this, and it was reinforced at the NSW Art Gallery tonight.

Walking, Wei Wang: seen at Sculpture by the Sea, Bipondi.

Shifting Horizons, April Pine. Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi.

The English Channel, Michael Parakowhai. NSW Art Gallery

Veiled Female Bust, Agathon Leonard, NSW Art Gallery

I like Sydney. It is in a beautiful location. There are so many places to eat. Public transport is frequent, reliable and seems affordable. People are really friendly, and everywhere you go there are directional signs with destinations and distances — for pedestrians and cyclists.

But: it is a city that seems to be “under construction.” Everywhere I look there are building sites and cranes and people in hard-hats. That means it is also very, very noisy. More than the traffic and the planes overhead, the sounds of construction are relentless.

Snapshot of development: the view from Pyrmont Bridge.

I have totally loved my time here, but I am looking forward to going home tomorrow.

Postcards from Sydney #1

I’m indulging my love of art — sculpture in particular — with a visit to Sydney to see Sculpture by the Sea at Bondi.

This involved a five am start to catch my flight, which was surprisingly not full and I had a whole row of seats to stretch out in.

I’m staying in a new hotel, in a part of town I’ve never been to before. So far, so awesome.

One of the cool things about The Collectionist is that all the rooms are designed by local artists — and they are all different. The other cool thing is that you get to choose your room. I had a choice of three and picked The Santa Rosa Suite. I’ll give you a peep inside tomorrow.

I’m not sure if it’s a legacy of my recent cold, or a sign that I’m getting old, but the last time I came to Sculpture by the Sea three years ago, I headed straight from checking in to Bondi Beach and walked the sculpture trail to the end at Tamarama Beach (and then walked back).

Today, I felt too tired to face the 12km bus trip to Bondi, let alone a 3km (return) walk around the exhibition, so I’m saving my energy for tomorrow.

Instead I’ve been exploring the neighbourhood and back towards the CBD, where I found dinner at Fishbowl.

A note to all The Changing Seasons contributors.

I will update the blogroll with links to your posts whenever I am able to, but I may be a little slower than usual.

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


Three sleeps ’til Melbourne


Melbourne, here I come. Actual view may vary from that shown. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

The Big T’s work in Melbourne is continuing so I’m going to join him for a few days. It’s been too long since I visited my favourite Australian city and I’m looking forward to shopping, galleries, catching up with friends, eating far too much, and spending time with the Big T.


I know the Australians amongst you will take exception to my choice for Kiwi Music Month today. Yes, Crowded House formed and was based in Melbourne, and had a majority of Australian members — it’s an Aussie band. But while this song may have been written about Melbourne, it was penned by a couple of boys from Te Awamutu.

Four Seasons in One Day (Neil Finn, Tim Finn) is from Crowded House‘s 1991 album, Woodface.


ANZAC Day: art and remembrance

Anzac Illuminations, Auckland War Memorial Museum. Photo: Su Leslie 2012

Anzac Illuminations, Auckland War Memorial Museum. A silent display of war footage projected on the museum facade which attracts thousands of Aucklanders each year. Photo: Su Leslie 2012

April 25th in ANZAC Day here in New Zealand and Australia; our most important national day of remembrance, for all Australians and New Zealanders

“who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations” and “the contribution and suffering of all those who have served.”

 A bit of history you can skip over if you already know it

ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps; a term – and an entity – that came into existence in World War One. The ANZACs first major engagement was the ill-fated and disastrous attempt to capture the Gallipoli Peninsula, in what is now Turkey, from troops of the Ottoman Empire – with whom the British Empire was at war.

The Gallipoli offensive – involving troops from Britain, India, Canada and France as well as Australia and New Zealand – began at dawn on April 25, 1915 with thousands of soldiers landing along the rugged, hilly coast of the peninsula. The objective was to charge Turkish posts (which unsurprisingly were on high ground), and capture key points along the landmass. That offensive, and each subsequent attack over the following EIGHT months, failed to capture significant ground. The defeated and exhausted remnants of the Allied expeditionary force were finally evacuated in January 1916.

Around 120,000 troops lost their lives during the Gallipoli Campaign (Allies and Turks); 8709 of them were Australian; 2721 were Kiwis. That may not sound like a lot, but remember that New Zealand’s total population at that time was only about a million people.

ANZAC troops fought and suffered terrible casualties in all the major WWI European battles too, but Gallipoli shaped our national psyches like no other.

What ANZAC Day means to me

I’m a child of the ’60s, a mother, an internationalist rather than a patriot. Yet I commemorate ANZAC Day, not out of glorification of war, but because it is such a stark reminder of human suffering. The Allies failed at Gallipoli; and in sending wave after wave of soldiers ashore, their commanders killed and maimed almost 200,000 mainly young men. ANZAC Day reminds us, not of boys-own, gung-ho, biff, pow, comic-book war, but of mud and blood and fear and misery. And in that, it has become a force for peace.

Strange Fruit, by Turtle Donna Sarten at the Academy of Fine Arts, Wellington.

Turtle Donna Sarten, ‘Strange Fruit’. Academy of Fine Arts, Wellington, 2013. The ‘strange fruit’ of the title is 3890 military dog tags – one for each of the New Zealanders who served in Vietnam between 1964 and 1972. Vietnam was a war people wanted to forget, yet the suffering of veterans is immense and ongoing. I’ve written more about this work here. Photo: Su Leslie

Art and remembrance

Art makes some of the clearest and most powerful statements about the world. Art which draws on, and references the military can be particularly powerful.

Helen Pollock, 'Victory Medal' 2010. Photo: Howard Williams

Helen Pollock, ‘Victory Medal’ 2010.Feet lined up in ‘Standing To’ formation; scarred, naked, battle-weary. Photo: Howard Williams.

NZ Sculpture OnShore is a biennial sculpture exhibition that raises money for Women’s Refuge. It is held at Fort Takapuna, a Historic Reserve that was once part of New Zealand’s coastal defense and has a long association with the military. In this blog post  I’ve looked at some of the artistic responses to the site over the last few exhibitions.

NZ Sculpture OnShore ANZAC Day blog post 2014

NZ Sculpture OnShore ANZAC Day blog post 2014. Click on the image to see more of the post.

To me, these are beautiful and poignant works. I’d like to know what you think.


Defining nationhood: we are what we eat?

anzacs on tray

Cheap and easy to make, delicious to eat. If they make it into a biscuit tin in our house, it means the boys are unwell.

First of all, thanks to Seonaid at Breathofgreenair for inspiring me to write this post with her comment about Anzac biscuits on my recent post about Anzac Day and remembrance in New Zealand and Australia.

For those of you who don’t know –  Anzac biscuits (think cookies North American readers) –  are a delicious sweet biscuit made with flour, rolled oats, coconut, butter, sugar and golden syrup. Legend has it that the biscuits are so named because they were sent by women in Australia and New Zealand to their men-folk serving in World War I.

From what I can gather, this isn’t quite true; the ANZAC troops were issued with an army biscuit (known at the time as a ANZAC wafer or ANZAC tile), but this bears no relation to the biscuit we know now, and according to the Australian War Memorial website:

is essentially a long shelf-life, hard tack biscuit, eaten as a substitute for bread. Unlike bread, though, the biscuits are very, very hard. Some soldiers preferred to grind them up and eat as porridge.

It seems that the first recipe for the biscuit we know today appeared in 1921, according to Professor Helen Leach, of the Archaeology Department of the University of Otago:

The combination of the name Anzac and the recipe now associated with it first appeared in the 9th edition of St Andrew’s Cookery Book (Dunedin, 1921) under the name “Anzac Crispies”. Subsequent editions renamed this “Anzac Biscuits” and Australian cookery books followed suit.

ANZAC biscuits are commercially available in Australia and New Zealand, but frankly I don’t know why anyone would bother to buy these when they are so cheap, easy and quick to make. In fact, here’s a recipe.

Anzac Biscuits*

1 cup flour

1 cup white sugar

1 ¾ cups desiccated coconut (the coarsely shredded type is great for texture)

1 ½ cups rolled oats

100g butter

2 tablespoons golden syrup

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 tablespoons boiling water

 NB: this recipe also specifies ¼ cup chopped walnuts, but these are not traditional and I tend to omit them

 Preheat the over to 160 degrees Celsius. Mix the flour, sugar, coconut and rolled oats in a bowl.

Melt the butter and golden syrup together.

Stir the baking soda into the boiling water, then mix the butter and baking soda mixtures together (NB: either do this in a new bowl, or make sure you’ve melted the butter in a large pan as the mixture bubbles up. I find that adding the baking soda to the butter then immediately pouring this over the dry ingredients works fine).

Combine wet and dry ingredients thoroughly.

Roll teaspoonfuls of the mixture (NB: I use a dessert spoon for bigger biscuits) into balls and place on well-greased or baking-paper-lined oven tray.

 Press flat, allowing room for them to spread.

Bake for 25-30 minutes (NB: maybe my oven is hotter, but I find they are cooked after 15-20 minutes – even the larger biscuits I make).

Cool on a wire rack and store in an air-tight container.

* This recipe comes from Jo Seagar’s All Things Nice. Random House, Auckland, 2002.

coffee and anzacs2

Latte and biscuits. I didn’t actually eat both of them; that’s just my attempt at food styling.